I do this thing where I think I’m real sick
But I won’t go to the doctor to find out about it
‘Cause they make you stay real still in a real small space
As they chart up your insides and put them on display
They’d see all of it, all of me, all of it
~ Rilo Kiley
I really, REALLY hate going to the doctor. So I must give props in a way to FirstCare Clinic in Baldwin. They don’t even try to front, you know? First of all, they hung up on me three times when I called. I guess I wasn’t coming in clearly, but I mean, they hung up RIGHT away. When I did finally get the receptionist to stay on the phone longer than half a second, she spoke to me like I was the biggest idiot in the world.
Then when I arrived, the “Rent” soundtrack was playing in the waiting room, and I’m thinking that as awesome as that album may be, perhaps the music from a play about AIDS and poverty is not the MOST comforting thing you could be playing in a clinic specializing in patients who have no money.
So I was left to ponder this, and also try to figure out exactly what Ladies Home Journal was trying to say about Kirstie Alley, because on the cover, they were all, “How Kirstie Really Lost the Weight,” spirituality, blah blah blah, and so I am wondering if maybe Scientology says “Stop being fat” in the same way that it says “Stop being depressed” and “Stop having labor pains,” so I open up the magazine, all curious to see how Kirstie really lost the weight, but before I can get to the article, there is an ad where she explicitly states that she lost the weight by dialing Jenny, and WHICH IS IT?
It was hard to concentrate; however, as not two minutes into my arrival, the entire staff began YELLING. I mean full-on arguing at high decibels back and forth and back and forth, and everyone was yelling, the doctor, the nurses, the receptionist, and I honestly couldn’t decide whether to be annoyed that they were thwarting my Kirstie Alley weight-loss mystery solving, unsettled that my health was in the hands of this bunch of hooligans, or pleased by the awesomeness of it all. I settled for a combination of the three.
On to the examination room, where the nurse stuck something in my ear en route and did some other medical things, and it all happened very quickly. The doctor came in like, RIGHT after, and I began to feel like this one regular who used to come into Red Lobster for lunch and sit in the hut, and he’d get the lobster stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer and fried food as the meal, and on any given day when the restaurant was running its usual 57 minutes behind, with half the necessary number of servers and cooks, you’d see his bread and salad come by, and then two seconds later, his meal arrive, and two minutes later, the lobster stuffed mushrooms, because although you would think that you’d get your appetizer first at Red Lobster, you would be wrong, and the poor guy would just sit there at little table 36, looking all befuddled at his table full of food, and that is how I was feeling as Dr. Crack entered the room.
Now Dr. Crack is almost as famous in Baldwin as Bradley and Eddie Collins. If you don’t have insurance, he’ll just go into his closet o’ magic and find you 45 doses of whatever you need, and if you’ve been a good girl or boy, he’ll toss in some codeine cough syrup. I personally had never experienced the magic of Dr. Crack, but having heard the stories, I tried as hard as I could to convey that I was in pain. Dude, I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this codeine cough syrup. “Now Judith, don’t become a drug addict,” my mother admonished me when I shared this with her, but as I told her, if I were a drug addict, I wouldn’t have to be banking on once-in-a-lifetime visits with Dr. Crack; I’d totally have my own hookup, you know? My mom didn’t really care for this line of reasoning, I don’t think.
So but anyway, I guess I’d built up Dr. Crack in my own mind as some kind of prescription piñata straight out of “Requiem for a Dream,” because I was completely unprepared for what came next!
1) Follow-up questions.
2) “I’ll run some x-rays.”
3) “Maybe we’ll do some blood tests.”
What was THIS? I don’t get that at my regular doctor; and certainly wasn’t expecting it today! All right, then. I could get down with this responsible health care business. He told me to take all clothes off from the waist up, and put the robe on, and the lady nurse would come in to get me so I wouldn’t feel sexually harassed, and then he left the room.
I wish I’d worn one of my pretty bras, I thought to myself as I prepared for the x-ray room, until I was immediately hit with the realization that if this is what my life had come down to, picking out pretty bras to better impress Dr. Crack, then I might as well take one of those sterile needles in the corner, stick it in my jugular, and call it a day. Because that is reaching new lows of patheticity, even for me.
Then I started getting all melancholy, and all the reasons I hate going to the doctor with every fiber of my being rose to the surface as I walked around the fluorescent-lit hallway in my sad little paper robe, feeling completely vulnerable and helpless as the nurse led me into this dark room where I had to keep adjusting my position and holding my breath so that she could take x-rays of my lungs and sinuses. The whole thing just felt like something out of TV, like there should be some serene yet foreboding classical music playing on the score, and then the gloom set in, as I realized I was never going to have anyone to drive me home from the doctor’s office, and would surely die alone.
Opting not to burst into tears in front of the once-yelling, now-nice nurse, even after she told me to feel better and seemed to mean it, I waited to cry until I got back to the examination room. Once my clothes were back on, I was okay, so maybe the robe was like the Cloak of Invisibility from Harry Potter, only this was the Cloak of Melancholy.
Dr. Crack came back (hee!), and pronounced my chest x-rays fine, but my sinus ones not so much, and he wrote me a prescription for decongestive cough syrup, which, if I am not mistaken, is narcotic-free, so of course I was very sad about this turn of events. And he was very nice. It was definitely the craziest doctor’s office I’ve ever been in, but I think I will go back, because: I’d like to see if the robes really do have magical powers, and I want that codeine cough syrup, dammit! And I never DID get to the bottom of how Kirstie really lost the weight.
© January 24, 2006