I woke up with a sore throat earlier in the week. I thought nothing of it, maybe gargle with an antiseptic a couple of times and it will go away. But then I got a sniffle, so I took a decongestant. Okay, I’ll spare you the icky stuff. I thought I had like an allergy attack or something. But after agonizing through three days of not being able to breathe, swallow, or move — after sucking down alternating doses of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (it does help with the aches) — after not knowing which way is up a couple of times — I headed out the door this morning and drove to my doctor’s office.
Thar be highway construction around Houston, so I had a long drive ahead of me as I took the back roads. I figured, I might as well call and see if I can get an appointment. Maybe the day of the drop-in visit is done. Good thing I called, because my doctor was not in this morning. Oh, yeah, I thought. It’s Thursday. I know what he does on Thursday mornings.
So I randomly went with the first available doctor in the house. Never saw the guy before in my life, but when a man is feeling small enough to want to see a doctor, any doctor will do as long as there are scheister lawyers in the phone book.
I had woken up with this image of going to see my doctor, however, so that I could ask him for The Good Stuff, the Magic Healing Powders they always hold back until you’re so sick they just absolutely have to share them with you. I wanted the magic healing powders. I was prepared to offer any convenient sacrifice that would appease his dark spirit. I was tired of feeling pain in my ears because my throat is sore. I was willing to pay for a prescription. No more of this, “You got any free samples this week, doc?” Just give me the piece of paper and I’ll be on my way.
So I got to the doctor’s office (which is a huge building, sort of a megaclinic that lots of doctors share so they can charge exorbitant fees) and promptly locked my keys in my car. That was okay because I didn’t realize I had done that. All I could focus on was getting up the stairs, avoiding pregnant women by the elevators, and staggering into the right office so I could say, “I’m Michael Martinez and I’m here to see Doctor whatshisname….”
“Please fill out this form,” I was told.
Now, waitaminnit. I’ve already filled out forms twice. How many times do you have to fill out forms just to get Magic Healing Powders? I mean, come on. It’s not like they haven’t photocopied my driver’s license, insurance card, and address a dozen times over. These doctors share a clinic. They split fees and profits. They cover for each other on those weekends when they visit their wives or girlfriends. They each need their own piece of paper saying, “I, Michael Martinez, being of sound mind and body, do hereby affirm that I’ll pay the exorbitant fees my insurance company eschews paying by whatever means necessary”?
That just ain’t right.
But like the sign in the waiting room says — well, technically, there is no such sign — but if you don’t sign the stupid piece of paper that they’ll use against you in court, you don’t get the magic healing powders.
So I signed the paper and sat down and waited. A guy came in right behind me and said, “I’m here to see Doctor whatshisname. They said I could see him at 9:30 AM.”
I wanted to scream, “NOOOooo! That’s my timeslot!” Double-booked in a doctor’s office and I still didn’t know I had locked my keys in the car.
Well, he had never crossed the threshold before, so fortunately for me (I think) he had more paperwork to fill out. They called my name and took me to waiting room number 2 before he turned in his clipboard.
Why does a doctors’ office need two waiting rooms? I have no idea. Technically, I went to pre-examination room 3 first, where I was weighed (“Your scale is broken, miss”) and asked why I had come. (“Oh, I was in the neighborhood, just thought I’d drop in and see if anyone had some spare donuts”).
Why do people go to doctors’ offices? I thought it was because we’re sick or injured. Nope. Today people were flooding into this megaclinic for annual physical exams. Apparently, my doctor lives in part on the taxes that people pay to the local school systems because he and his colleagues spend part of their time giving physical exams to bus drivers.
Have you heard the joke where the bus driver goes into the doctor’s office and says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this with my arm”? Yeah, I’ve heard it too. Several times.
So school is about to start up, or has just started up, and we’re spending all the taxpayers’ money determining that bus drivers are capable of taking themselves into the doctors’ offices. In the meantime, where are my Magic Healing Powders? I mean, there is a sample closet right in the hallway. I could almost smell them.
Well, after I had read about half of a Business Week magazine I had no interest in, someone called my name. “Great!” I thought. I’ll just ditch the magazine and go see the doctor and get my magic healing powders.
Why do I always leave the magazine? Do you have any idea of how difficult it is to get a halfway interesting magazine in a doctor’s office? And who knows where that magazine has been? Why do I even pick them up in the first place? Sick people have been reading those things. And bus drivers.
Well, whomever sat alone in Exam Room number 4 before me had left a couple of magazines. Obviously, they didn’t have a sore throat, throbbing ears, and icky stuff in their chest. They could think clearly. So I picked up the Reader’s Digest Special Humor Issue (Note: do not ever read the Reader’s Digest Special Humor Issue again!).
I read the magazine. I looked at the pictures on the wall. Yes, this doctor puts pictures in his examination room. His practice includes helping a local high school football team and wrestling team. One plaque contains a letter from an 18-year-old boy thanking the doctor for sewing him back up and helping him go on to State Finals.
“Ohmigod I’ve got Doctor Frankenstein!” I thought.
I stared in horror at the pictures of young athletes lying in agony on fields around the state of Texas. This guy was in every picture, happy, smiling, loving his work. I started pacing, wondering if I could break out through the wall should Doctor Buzzsaw come through the door with a machete and a weedwacker.
Instead, I listened to various bus drivers talk about–whatever it is that bus drivers talk about during their annual physical exams. I ran through nearly all my cough drops.
“This guy won’t get the magic healing powders joke,” I concluded. My last grasp on sanity for the morning slipped away, vanishing in a dimly lit examination room I feared I might never leave again. Perhaps I had died and this was the Hell to which I had been consigned for eternity. I looked at my watch at 10:30 AM and saw that it was 10:30 AM. I had been here for an hour for my 9:30 AM (last minute) appointment and all I knew about this doctor was that he sewed kids up so they could go on to state finals…and he knows a lot of bus drivers.
Okay, the door opened and in comes this congenial man. “Hello, Michael, how are you feeling?”
Do you really want to know? I almost asked. But my throat was so dry all I could croak at him was, “Not so good.”
He took one look down my throat, asked if I smoke (I don’t), and said, “Looks like this is going around.”
Oh, cool. I’ll be the first of many people suffering in long lines at Houston area doctors’ offices while the bus drivers get their physicals. Well, at least I now know what I’m up against.
He quickly wrote out a little prescription. And then another one. He said, “I hope you feel better in a few days,” shook my hand, and bid me adiea, fare well, good-bye, and may have mumbled something about “Thank god it wasn’t another bus driver” as I stumbled toward the clerk waiting to take my money.
What about the keys? Oh, yeah, I realized what happened when I got to the car. Fortunately, I carry a spare set.
And, yes, I now have my magic healing powders. I feel better already.