It has been a stressful couple of days around the HotC household. Last night, I spent 3 hours with my daughter in the Emergency Department. She is fine, and after a day spent chafing at home, is now ready to return to her normal activities. We are exhausted.
We have become, I am sorry to report, frequent flyers at the ED since her birth. The staff there now knows she loves band-aids and jumping off things, and provides rooms where the potential for self-destruction is limited. However they lack the reflexes we have developed, and so were unable to catch her when she vaulted off a moving stretcher (The doctor: “Oh! There’s that lust for danger.”) But I did, so at least I feel I’m not wholly incompetent.
We live mere blocks from the ED, so we walked (okay, I ran while carrying her). Parking near the hospital is limited and expensive, and it would have taken us longer to drive there, find parking, and wait for an elevator to take us up to the admission desk than it takes to hoof it, even at a slow amble. Who puts an emergency department at the top of a steep hill, anyway?
At 10pm on a Wednesday night, our discharge instructions were to get a specialty prescription into her before she went to sleep. It was already well past her bedtime and our only options were 24-hour pharmacies (for reasons that mystify everyone, the on-site pharmacy closes at 8pm).
Our closest choices were the Walgreens in the Castro or the Walgreens in Daly City. The Castro Walgreens is known for its close relationship with San Francisco’s storied Ward 86 and it is substantially closer to us. But in my addled state, I assumed that the Castro site would not have pediatrics formulations readily available because it primarily serves AIDS patients. And I knew we couldn’t park there: there is never any parking in the Castro, at least while the bars are open. So I had the ED call her prescription into Daly City, which is a 30+ minute drive away, but located in a mall with a huge parking lot where every other store closes by 9pm. Matt drove there and waited while they compounded her prescription and I tried to keep her awake until he returned. She finally got to bed at near midnight after passing out in my arms.
With hindsight I realize we could have saved ourselves nearly an hour by skipping the drive. There are hundreds of pediatric AIDS patients in San Francisco, so the Castro pharmacy undoubtedly has pediatric drugs in stock. And I forgot in the press of events that it is nearly always faster to get around the city by bicycle than by car. Even though Matt would have had to detour around Twin Peaks if he rode the bike there, it is a 20-minute round trip (probably 15 minutes given the adrenaline). Alternatively we could have picked up one of the taxis available 24/7 outside the ED discharge doors.
Under the circumstances, though, we went with what seemed obvious. We walked to the hospital because it felt within range (and because we’ve done it before). But when we were unfamiliar with alternatives and panicked, we defaulted to the car. That’s where we are.
We have discussed whether it makes sense for us to live without a car. We know many families in the city do this already, although they thin out when kids reach school age. Given the plethora of public transit options, our bicycles, and strategic use of cabs and car shares, it is objectively possible, likely cost-effective, and arguably more practical.
But for now, it’s clear that we’re still attached to the safety net of having a car.