Dumb but not stupid.

More accurately, stubborn but not stupid.

Ok, so an innocent trip to the Keys has turned into a lot of medical deductions right at the end of 2005. Good thing, too, ’cause I just make SOOOO much money taking Little League pictures for The Gabber and reading rejection slips from the major mags, I really needed the write-off.

Let’s recap: 12 days ago, I met with the business end of a stingray. Severe pain followed, then cleared up after about four hours or so. I stayed off my feet (ok, sort of) for a few days, but by Christmas had started walking without a limp again. Yay me, good, fine, whatever.

On the advice of pretty much the entire Gibson family and the Gabber staff, I succumbed and broke my “no doctor” rule (that, and my foot looks really, really bad). Except the holidays are about the worse time to try and get in last minute to see a doctor. My doctor’s office reopened yesterday, but the one person with the magic computer passwords to “work me in” to the schedule returned today. So yesterday, still unwilling to shell out almost $100 to have a doctor look at my foot and hand me a ‘scrip, I actually called the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Clinic was full for the day by 9:30 am. Fine, I decide, I’ll wait until today and surely my doctor’s office will work me in.

No such luck. Apparently a gangrenous foot just doesn’t garner an appointment. So, still trying to hang on to the last of my money, I call the Free Clinic again. They tell me they will not have another clinic until January 9, by which time I should need an amputation just below the knee.

I grit my teeth and ask them for the name of a walk-in clinic locally, as the one I used once before is- you guessed it- closed until after the first of the year. At this point, I start to worry that I will end up in the ER just to get antibiotics, something I do NOT want to do.

Anyway, I call the walk-in clinic, and they tell me I may have to wait two hours, but they can help me today. Of course, just to get an audience with a doctor will cost me $70; anything ELSE will be extra. Fine, whatever, just clear up the infection.

So I pack up my laptop and drive down to Bayfront Convenient Care, which is just over the Corey bridge. I mention this only because I realize after I sign in that they have, courtesy of their proximity to the beaches, quite a bit of experience with stingray stings. So much so, the nurse tells me, that they have buckets sitting in the back that they reserve for hot water for stingray victims.

After a bit of a wait (although not quite two hours), they bring me into “the Back” (you know, they call your name and say, “come on back”) and thankfully believe me when I tell them that yes, I’ve had a tetanus shot in recent memory, and, no, I don’t think the barb broke off. The doctor, a rather friendly sort, gives me all the samples he has of some incredibly heavy-duty antibiotic and a prescription for the other five, and warns me that they’re going to be expensive.

That should have given me pause and made me ask for a different medicine. I mean, doctors generally have a higher standard of living than I, and when one of them thinks something pricey, it ain’t a good sign. But it was only five pills, so how much could it be, right?

According to the pharmacist at Wal-Mart, a lot. I ask him how much, precisely. $108.60, precisely, or $21.65 per pill. More than seeing a doctor, more than the hotel room in the Keys, more than I spend on groceries in a month, more than… well, I’m out of dramatic examples, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I got the pills, I’ve seen a doctor, and while he did seem to think the infection had gotten pretty severe, he didn’t mention amputation, so it looks like I’m gonna make it.

And I’d like to point out that my total medications and prescriptions this year have cost $475.10. How much have you spent on health insurance, deductibles, and co-pays this year? I think I’m still ahead of the game, and I didn’t need a referral for any of it.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.