I entered a large department store on a rainy Sunday two weeks ago. My foot hit a slick spot and I became airborne. You know that awful feeling when you’re going down and there is nothing you can do about it. I drifted in slow motion closer and closer to a display table, finally making contact with my right temple, surely breaking the skin. My glasses flew off my face. I landed on the ground, half sitting and half lying. The two men who had been looking at clothing—this was the men’s department—when I first walked in started to run toward me. They could have been father and son.

“Are you alright,” the dad said.

“Let me help you up,” the young one said.

By that time I had grabbed a wad of tissues stored my jacket pocket and slapped them on the side of my head, pressing hard. I knew the laceration would bleed profusely. Thank goodness I had tissues in my pocket ready for an episode of coughing. I was recovering from a mild case of walking pneumonia.

“No, I’ll sit here a while,” I said as I reached over to retrieve my glasses. They weren’t damaged.

The nurse in me did a quick assessment. Nothing hurt. In spite of feeling a little shaky from the surprise of the accident, I was oriented and felt in control.

I pulled the tissues away from my face. They were soaked with blood. I could feel the stream of blood oozing down my skin. I quickly put the pressure back on.

“I’ll get help,” the older man said and hobbled down the long aisle. The younger fellow stood guard beside me. If we made small talk I don’t remember. In short order, two women with department store nametags rushed up to me.

Did I want an ambulance? Of course not. What I wanted was that this had never happened and get on my way looking for a pair of slippers.

I asked for some ice and time to think about what to do.

One of the women moved the jeans that were folded neatly on the display table that just damaged my face, making space for me to sit while I pondered my dilemma.

I took a selfie picture of my wound. There was no denying it would need attention. I called my husband to schlep me to yet another Urgent Care facility.

This would be my second trip to Urgent Care in less then two weeks.

Christmas Eve, after a bout of coughing and shortness of breath, I decided to head to an Urgent Care to forestall any problems I might face over the Christmas holiday. My daughter drove me to the closest one. Did I mention how I hate to admit I’m sick? I am the ultimate denier that anything is wrong. Is this a nursing trait?

The two Urgent Care units were vastly different. The one I went to on Christmas Eve was a clean, well-lighted facility with a couple of adjoining waiting rooms with comfortable chairs. A nurse introduced herself, asked what was wrong and if I had allergies and some other pertinent information that I had already put on the four pages of admitting paperwork. The repetition was reassuring. And the doctor was attentive and sat down to talk with my daughter and me as if he had all the time in the world. Both the nurse and doctor washed their hands in the sink in the room before touching me.

When we left, the receptionist wished me a speedy recovery.

The Urgent Care I went to the day I fell—nearest to the department store—had a bleak and dreary waiting room with white washed walls, scruffy linoleum and metal folding chairs. After filling out one page of admitting info, I was called into a room. The physician’s assistant came promptly and introduced herself but didn’t wash her hands or put on gloves before she touched my laceration.

“Glue,” she said. “The nurse will get your vital signs.” She left.

A young man in blue scrubs motioned to me from the hall to follow him and had me sit next to a exam table where he rolled up my sweater sleeve, took my blood pressure, stuck a thermometer under my tongue and a pulse ox clip on my finger with minimal words and no eye contact. When he sat on a chair at the end of the table to jot down the numbers, I asked his name and if he were the nurse. He was. He didn’t wash his hands either.

Oh, how I wanted to step into my long ago role of nursing instructor and berate him for not identifying himself or washing his hands. And I didn’t say anything later when the PA came back and put on gloves without washing her hands first before she proceeded to glue me up. I figured I wasn’t having brain surgery and just wanted to have my cut sealed so the bleeding would stop and I could go home.

After she was done, she stood by the exam table where I still reclined and ticked off what complications to watch out for. No smile, no handshake and she was gone. The receptionist told me I could go home.

What a contrast in Urgent Care facilities. I could bemoan my behavior at not speaking up at the last one. But you know, I really don’t care because I never want to visit another Urgent Care center again.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. I’m so sorry about the need for both visits to urgent care, and I so appreciate the nursing instructor in you and wish the second urgent care personnel had been under your tutelage.


  2. Just the other day I thought about why doctors aren’t nice these days? It wouldn’t hurt them to smile more or offer some comforting words. I haven’t felt the need to go for anything serious here in Canada yet, but something along the lines of ‘doctors need to SHOW they care’ is seriously lacking! Hope you feel better soon.


  3. So sorry, Marianna, about both urgent care trips. Sounds like you didn’t break anything. Thank goodness.
    I am never reluctant about insisting that doctors and nurses wash hands before coming near me. This started when my infant son was desperately ill in the hospital and I watched everybody, eagle-eyed. I didn’t care what they thought or who they were. Wash before handling my baby.
    And I’m still that way.
    Sounds like those medical people at the second place need to read Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande–and learn how to behave. Keep us posted and I hope you feel back to normal soon.


  4. Marianna: So sorry to hear about both trips to urgent care, but especially the fall! I hope you have healed well by now. To follow Carol’s comment above, I am reading a piece right now about my grandparents’ first baby who died due to infection. They blamed it on the doctor who didn’t wash his hands before performing a minor procedure. I’ve become better at speaking up about things in medical settings as I get older 🙂


  5. Marianna-
    First time reading several of your blog posts and perceive a kindred spirit. Like you, as a nurse and 72,I have resisted the occasional physical interruptions that come with being a Senior, but had to be on the other side of the bed twice between last Oct and December, I watched my professional caregivers like a hawk, ready to spot any weaknesses.
    Retired 3 years ago after 30 years as an oncology certified nurse. During the final 10 years or so I had begun to write articles about my nursing experiences and ventured some clinical articles, and lucky in publishing several in peer-review nursing journals . To keep the brain cells synapsing I’ve increased my writing time and last year completed a fictional mystery novel; 7 years of off-again-on-again revisions. Currently getting it ready for editor review, and assembling a collection of nursing experiences to see if any editor or Amazon interest.
    I enjoyed your posts very much today, especially about meeting the challenge of rafting even though you were apprehensive after your recent fall. I will follow your blogs. My blog site is https// and hope you check it out.
    Joyce Hislop, RN


    1. Joyce, I did check you blog and enjoyed your stories. We do have a lot in common. I’m glad to see another nurse writing about our profession, especially one of “a certain age.” Best of luck with your book.


    2. Interesting. Maybe you should keep up with her, do a nurse author tour together. 🙂 Great to see you over the weekend. I hope the writing and book-shopping-around go well. Keep in touch. Carol


      1. Thank you, Carol, for leading the wonderful writing workshop this past weekend. I learned much and felt inspired to write some new stuff. In fact, one of your prompts gave me an idea for an upcoming post. Thanks for all your help with my book and your continued support


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