Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dr. DeMille, I'm Ready For My Checkup

Today was high noon in the office of good and evil. I could not put off my doctor's visit any longer. I had already stalled once, right at the end of the school year. If I was any more off-putting, Doc might become suspicious. Think I was seeing a convenient care nurse practitioner. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This was a regular appointment, nothing special, nothing wrong. I gave my blood to the lab two weeks ago. At that time, they made a big deal of gathering too much information, and encouraged me to divulge my email so I could "check on lab results online" and not have to call the office. I never call the office. I wait for a postcard in the mail so my rural mail carrier will know how healthy I am and ascertain whether he can take me in hand-to-hand combat.

Of course the temperature outside was in the mid-nineties by the time I pulled onto the blacktop parking lot. I said a nearly tearful goodbye to T-Hoe's arctic AC, and dragged myself across the shimmering expanse to the tall professional building that I hoped was a mirage. Nope. At least I had an elevator to myself, and only had to deal with one surly old man with a cane and jeans rolled up near the knee, him sputtering through his white beard as I dared stand outside the men's room when he wanted to exit. Perhaps that needs some clarification. My medical facility is not filled with mountain men/swamp people/dynasty ducks/wild hoggers, or any other backwoods reality stars. He was the only disgruntled person I encountered. And, I don't stand outside men's rooms. It was in an 'L' where I was trying to enter the women's room, and he yanked his door open and wanted to plow me over, cane and all. I suppose he thinks women should be in the kitchen, stewin' up a possum, not seeking well-patient care in a doctors' building.

The first window-woman did not bust my chops today. I went to sign in on the clipboard, after receiving such chastisement two weeks ago for going directly to the window. But no. Today she wanted me to step right up to the window. She asked for not one whit of identification. Neither insurance card, no driver's license, no address or phone number. Just took my name, and told me to go wait somewhere else. Which I did. For 45 minutes. That's a good interval for this office.

When the wacky loudmouth nurse called me back, she got into a detailed discussion with a little girl in the waiting room. "Is that your doll? She's cute. Can you change her clothes and everything? No? Then what fun is she? What? Her eyeballs pop out? Different eyes? Different hair? That's too much! In my day, we just changed their clothes!" After standing awkwardly in the entryway to the inner sanctum for five minutes listening to doll specs, I was summarily whisked around the corner to the scales. Lucky for me, Wacky Loudmouth Nurse likes to talk about herself. I distracted her with doll talk, and inserted, "Aw, this weight thing isn't really necessary. It's the same as last time." It worked!

WLMN quizzed me on my close associates. I'm surprised she didn't want birthdates and social security numbers. She typed that stuff into my file. Verified my meds. Asked me about the book I was reading, just before stuffing a thermometer under my tongue. Which meant that SHE could talk about books she likes to read. Then she pumped up the sphygmomanometer, and asked me to reach my other arm across my ample chestal area, to hold the velcro flap that was ripping loose one synthetic hook-and-eye at a time, as if that would not affect my blood pressure. At the same time, she told me that she had to pay $10 for a library card at the Backroads library. Now THAT'S a blood-pressure raiser. It was only $5 last time I got one. After a tale of her childhood Bookmobile escapades, WLMN left me to stew in my normal temperature and pressure while awaiting the main act.

But no. There was another opener vying for my attention. A medical student! Not just any medical student, by cracky! A second-week medical student! I tried to act normal. No need to scare her into another profession. Though I could have come up with some really creative answers to her questions. I am almost as well-versed in ER trivia as I am in The Show About Nothing. To further show that I meant her no harm, I asked her to look into my right ear. As you might guess, she found nothing. In making small talk, I announced that I had been unable to access my lab results through the patient portal, and that I held her fully responsible. I guess she knew that I was joking.

Doc came in and sat on the exam table and asked for more info. I told him he was part of the vast conspiracy to harvest my personal information, without even any promised lab results to show for it. He disagreed. Declared that my results had been put in the "wrong bin" which made me think of trash. He was in a jovial mood, perhaps to show off for the pretty young med student, in case his two plaques for Medals of Commendation from the U.S. Army, and the certificate of certification in geriatric medicine in 2003 had not worked their magic.

Doc declared that my labs were excellent. I wouldn't know, still not having seen them. He wrote an order for my meds. Listened to my heart, perhaps just checking to see if I had one. Told me to breathe, like I needed his permission for that. Then he sat down again, said I looked great, glowing almost, and asked what was going on, anything exciting? I declared that the heat was killing me, meaning it as an explanation for the "glowing" part, what with my flushed face, and Doc said, "Well, I don't know what you expect ME to do about the heat!" He's a real joker. I should have told him I'd soon be shopping at Aldi's due to cranking my home thermostat lower. "So what else? I knew it was time for you to come in. It's summer. What are you doing with all your time?" Obviously, he could see that it was NOT exercising.

"I like to write, and I'm going to be published in a book coming out in September."

Doc was duly impressed. "Will I get a free autographed copy? That's big time. Bring me a book." Those doctors. Always looking for freebies. Spoiled by the pharmaceutical industry. I explained that it was only in an anthology, and Doc and the medical student still feigned excitement. "Not just anybody can do that! Bring me a book!"

I'm kind of getting worried about Doc's financial situation.


  1. If had were fortunate enough to have something published, anthology or not. I'd be shouting to the rooftops. Glad you checked out okay.

  2. You know, when doctors get bothersome, an anthology can be used to perform a colonoscopy on the pesky physician.

    I'm just sayin'...

  3. Stephen,
    Of course you would. Those rooftops are the perfect venue for celebrating accomplishments with tens of your blog friends. I, myself, blared huzzahs from rooftops with long horns when I placed 89th in the 80th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Contest. Perhaps you should submit to anthologies.

    I sense that you are attempting to have me arrested for impersonating a medical professional, Madam. A tactic which will not work on this savvy cookie. To suggest such a faux procedure on a fine physician like my Doc, who has two medals of commendation AND a geriatric certificate! Fie on you, Madam, and your sordid methods of ridding the world of future anthological competition! You can sell more anthologies dipped in honey than those dipped in...a family practitioner's colon.

  4. I'm impressed by the rapport you seem to have with your doctor. When I joke with mine - which happens when I'm nervous, which I usually am at the doctor's - they stare at me, stone-faced, and then scribble in my chart. I'm just sure they're writing that I'm difficult.

    1. Tammy,
      I hope you haven't been taking dog medicine. Remember, it only works for a cough, not a rash. And if you try to get a diagnosis by acting as an old man's caretaker, don't be hasty when you draw on his eyebrows with a magic marker.