I've known him since I was 12. He came into my life when we asked him to pull the staple from my index finger - something the Nuns at school were afraid to remedy themselves. My shining Knight. As he put the bandaid on my finger, he called the Nuns ridiculous. I knew then that ours would be an easy relationship. It has continued through the years with his treating every injury and illness that's happened to or run through my body and required more than a bandaid or a couple aspirin. So, yeah, we go waaaaay back. Because of that, I never mind going to the doctor. It's like visiting an old friend. Well, all but the twenty dollar co-pay, but still.
We chat in the examination room for about 15 minutes. Me there on the table, swinging my legs back and forth like I'm sitting on the tailgate of a truck parked on the beach on a warm sunny day. He's sitting on the red leather stool by the shelves, physicians desk reference, a jar of tongue depressors, and boxes of samples behind him. We chat away like two old friends. If the lights were dim and we had music and a bartender and maybe a couple pints between us, we'd be in the pub it feels like we're in. We talk about our families, about my job, about his son joining his practice. We talk about my Mom. She doesn't like it when we (her children) talk about her to doctors. He knows this all to well since she also doesn't like it when her doctors talk to us. We've been caught before. I tell him she'd kick us both out of her life if she knew we were talking about her at the moment. We talk about Dad instead. We both express how different things are without my father.
So what brings you here today?
I smile at the familiarity of his face. I missed you.
Then I pull the list from my purse. He raises an eyebrow at me and makes a face. I always wait until there's a few things before making an appointment. The prescription pad comes out and two things are out of the way in no time.
And then I get to it.
The right side of my chest hurts when I breathe.
He furrows his thick grey eyebrows, gives me a stern look.
The stethoscope is cold on my back.
Breathe deep. Again. Again.
And on my chest.
Again. One more time.
He shakes his head at me, says, I need some x-rays of your chest.
The x-rays are taken and he disappears down the hall to review the films. I return to the examining room.
It was so much nicer a few minutes ago when we were in the pub chatting about pissing off Mom. Now, all kinds of health scenarios scramble like dirty and ill-behaved children through my mind. Throwing bricks at the glass windows of my sensibilities, using their chalk to write bad "C" words on the sidewalks of my mind. There is no order; it's a city street turned into playground gone out of control. Chirac's problems are an easy stroll down the Champs Elysees compared to the riots taking place in my mind while I wait for my doctor to return with the news of whatever he hears and now sees in my lungs.
The door opens. I hold my breath.
Alison, you have a nasty infection in your lungs but it's prevalent in your right. You mentioned you had a cough and sore throat a couple weeks ago. Likely that was the infection moving from your sinus to your lungs.
Oh joy, I am only the proud owner of a traveling infection. I sigh so deep with relief that it hurts and I cough. I make a face at him. He makes a face back at me.
He writes a prescription for antibiotics.
You call me in a couple days if you're not feeling better. And don't wait so long next time.
As I walk out the door, he adds, Tell your mother hello for me.