I hate going to the doctor. Just hate it! If I’m going, that means I’m ill. If I’m ill, I don’t want to leave my cozy little bedroom. But now, already hesitant to tread beyond the relative safety of the front door, I’m forced to sit in a place where everyone is sick, where the most recent magazine touts Jerry Lewis’s new film, “The Nutty Professor,”, and where the only possible televised offering seems to be watching two under-educated Neanderthals duke it out on Springer. But not to dismay, I’m also afforded the opportunity to be coughed at and sneezed over while breathing the least sterile air this side of a biological warfare test facility.
Of course, once there, I must wait… and wait… and wait. It’s a law. Article 7, paragraph 16 of the physician’s office code stipulates that “wherefore the physician must maintain complete and utter control and superiority in all situations. No patient, no matter how gravely ill, no matter how late for work, or grievously inconvenienced, may venture into an examining room prior to 45 minutes after check-in.”
Once, when I braved the uncomfortably cool examining room – they’re always cool, I don’t know why they keep them so chilly – the doctor informed me that I had bronchitis and two ear infections. After this cheery revelation, he then added, “So, what do you want me to prescribe?”
Now, it could be me. It could be the way my not-so-medical mind operates, but isn’t it the doctor who’s supposed to make this recommendation?
I thought so.
And thus I smiled a salamander smile and said, “Well, I’ll take a course of Amoxicillin, an Ibuprofen – hold the cheese – and a large side of Vicks Vapor Rub.”
He didn’t get it.
This all got me to thinking. What makes doctors so special? We put these modern-day alchemists on pedestals as if they hang with Michael the archangel chomping on bacon, lettuce, and manna sandwiches every day at noon. But these are fallible human beings just like you and I. Sure, they have those spiffy diplomas hanging on the wall. Of course they’ve attained some phantasmic level of education and training; but truly, what makes a doctor so special?
Personally, I think it’s that they can see really, really gross stuff without passing out. In fact, I think that’s one of the key requirements for becoming a doctor. Imagine, if you will, this scene from a highly-regarded medical institution:
“Well, John, you did a great job stabbing the dummy’s arm with multiple hypodermic needles, and that cure for cancer you developed is really quite impressive.”
“Why thank you, Professor,” the young would-be physician might say.
“But,” says the instructor. “There’s one more thing you need to do before becoming a real doctor.”
“Yes?” says the student, a dubious fold creasing his brow.
“I want you to take a look under that sheet.”
“This one here?”
“Yes, yes, that one there.”
At this point the aspiring medical genius peeks under the covers, turns seventeen shades of something akin to green, and asks for one of those little baggie things they have on airplanes. After which, his guidance consoler redirects him toward a career in heating and air conditioning.
Okay, silliness aside. We do need doctors. They provide a useful and much-needed service. But I do have some requests for the medical profession:
THE PIZZA CONTINGENT: Some pizza places have an on-time-or-it’s-free policy on deliveries. I propose that all doctor visits should be free if a patient is made to wait more than ten minutes past the scheduled appointment time.
THE BANKER’S HOURS STIPULATION: Yes, Doc, you’re important, but so is my job. Please offer office hours outside of 9-5 Monday through Friday. Really, we’re the ones paying you. We’re your customers, your clients. Treat us as such.
And finally – and most importantly – THE THIS DECADE PLEA: Please locate some periodicals that were actually published during my lifetime. Subscriptions aren’t that pricy – really!
Now, how will you be paying for this diagnosis?
Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.
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