Dr. K

So my appointment with the pulmonary specialist was for 1:45, on the theory that they’d “squeeze‿ me in. I suckered the husband into coming with me for hand-holding purposes, but he was late getting to me, so we didn’t get to grab lunch before we ran down I270. We arrive on time, and I’m given a stack of paperwork to fill out.

One of my personal pet peeves is confusing forms. These are particularly bad. They are clearly a copy of a copy of a copy several generations old. The fields aren’t well defined, and the whole thing is arranged on the paper cock-eyed. I struggle through those, give them my insurance card and go back to sit down. The nurse, who has a posh accent from Bath that makes her sound lovely even though I have no empirical evidence to prove whether she is or not, takes the paperwork, and sets it aside. The office manager waddles in a few minutes later. She is one of those unattractive people who are obsessively thorough in their activities. (One cringes to think of what she’d be like having sex.)

It isn’t enough that my card essentially says no referrals required, it doesn’t explicitly say so on the back of the card. We call the insurance company together to get confirmation. Every question the insurance company asks her, she answers in a full-throated outside voice. The people in the office next door can hear her as she recites the spelling of my name, my birthday and so on. The random woman on the other end confirms that I have no referral requirement and off we go.

Except that she forgets to ask the details of my co-pay, so she calls back. In her quest for complete understanding she repeats the details of my insurance deductible, co-pay and so on in the same loud voice as before. As luck would have it, the only other patients in the office are pushing seventy, so even if their hearing is up for the full details, their memory isn’t likely to hang on to it for very long.

They put me on the scale. I don’t want to talk about that.

I think that, after the scale, I’d be off to the examining room, but not so much with that. I’m bustled back to the front office to sort out another detail. I’m standing in the door of the reception/office space and the doctor walks up to me and asks who I am. I give my name. He says “for?‿ and I say “the last 27 years?‿

Too much time passes. The husband is hungry and bitter. I finally go back to the examination room. They take my blood pressure, my pulse and temperature. The room is wicked hot. I’m instructed to take off my shirt and put on a lovely pink half-sized hospital gown. Dr. K finally shows up and proceeds to thump on my back and listen to me breathe. He has me lay back and asks if he can undo my pants. I inform him that I used to require a meal or two before I’d even entertain a request like that. He pokes around on my stomach and asks me when my last bowl movement was. I’d rather thought I was there to discuss my lungs, not my intestines, but whatever.

He goes to sit down and ask me questions, and encounters my bra wrapped up in my shirt. He asks if I mind if he moves them. I guess not. He then suggests that I not forget the items when I leave. I assure him that me forgetting my clothes is unlikely.

He asks lots of questions while I sweat. He leaves me, and I get dressed. The nurse from Bath returns with a little vile of clear liquid and an apparatus that looks like a penile enhancer. (Leave me alone for knowing what this looks like. I’ve been in a naughty store once or twice.) She hooks it all together and the thing starts puffing out white clouds. She hands it to me, sets a timer for 10 minutes and I’m told to start breathing this stuff into my lungs. I pantomime my request that the husband join me. He shows up, and proceeds to laugh at the faces I make as I’m trying to inhale this crap, which is quickly making my heart race and my head light.

Dr. K returns with a prescription pad, which he proceeds to decimate as he writes script after script. I’m suddenly on antibiotics, steroids, inhalers, Prilosec… not to mention the blood work, the chest x-ray and the breathing test. I’ve suddenly got more crap to take than my grandmother, which seems wrong somehow.

Then it’s back to the office manager, who hasn’t reduced her thoroughness one iota. She copies the same information 4 times in different places, she writes stuff out on the prescriptions, photocopies, notes, calls, explains and does it all again. I’m about ready to choke her.

Finally, at about 4:00 PM, we escape from medical hell and into the sunshine. We feed ourselves Ethiopian food as compensation, and then it’s off to the pharmacy.

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Dr. K

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