Thursday, September 22, 2011

Laughter and Medicine

My primary-care physician now does her thing out of a new office. A few days ago, I dealt with these digs for the first time. While waiting for my routine physical to get underway, I was summoned to the reception desk and was notified that the check-up wouldn’t be covered by my insurance because I already had a physical on January 14th.

Nice try, but I have an alibi for where I was on the 14th day of this year. It’s not an airtight one, but it’s credible enough.

Ten minutes and $15 later I was steered into a side room and onto a scale, 2 feet away from a nurse who was silently drawing another woman’s blood. Although I’m farsighted, I’m not blind or dumb. I know how to read a scale and have no trouble making out its numbered notches when they’re directly in front of me. My nurse saw that I was following along without any visible confusion, so I assumed she would just write down my weight on the chart she was holding. She did - right after she broadcast it to the group. And then she repeated it! Is this a doctor’s appointment or an audition for the Bolshoi Ballet?

Should a patient’s blood pressure be taken immediately after a mistaken-identity fiasco and a public weigh-in?

I’ve always put this doctor on a pedestal, and it remains unclear how a clinician of her caliber could have gotten mixed up with an operation like this. When she walked into the examining room, it was tantamount to reuniting with a cousin you hardly ever get to see; one of the cousins you really like - not one of the ones you’re planning to quietly leave off your future wedding’s guest list.

The problem with having a reputation for being a joker is that people constantly think you’re trying to be funny when you’re not. That’s why my internist was cracking up with impunity as I caught her up to speed on what’s been happening with my body this year. The only point in the monologue where the snickering might have been warranted was when I started doing (spot-on) impersonations of people.

She called with my blood test results earlier tonight, and was still laughing. We both were – I had accurately diagnosed myself. One of the first things I said at the exam was: “I think I have a thyroid problem.” And I do.

She also said I have the healthiest cholesterol level she’s EVER SEEN. I (an English major) accurately diagnosed that in advance too. Medical school is for suckers.


  1. Wow, the public announcement of the weight hit a nerve. I have never had a nurse announce it publicly, but I have had nurses (more than one) make comments about it in a private weighing room. And then there's blood pressure--the shocked tone of voice, even though with meds, I'm within striking distance of normal--why do they think I am in a doctor's office, anyway?
    Glad to hear about the excellent cholesterol, Kadzi, but sorry to hear about the thyroid. I hope the problem gets resolved.

  2. Those nurses must not be so clueless that they don't know we don't enjoy having our weight announced to the curious public. It's a power trip!!