Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Anxiety at the Doctor’s Office

I’ve watched a lot of hospital programs on television. Which isn’t a good thing. Now, I have quite a hard time at the doctor’s office: I’m either over-confident, second guessing the doctor with such statements as “don’t you think we need to order a complete CBC and CT scan, doc? That seems pretty routine these days;” or, left alone in the examination room waiting for the doctor to show up, I let my imagination get the better of me. I’ve seen too many routine procedures end up with someone sitting on top of someone else pounding on their chest with blood spattering a set of protective eyewear. It’s no wonder I’m nervious.

For instance, just today I was at my dermatologist. I’ve just undressed to my underthings, and I’m waiting for the doctor. Sitting in a cold vinyl chair, my feet on the cold linoleum floor, I grow a bit anxious. What if they forgot about me, and the doctor never comes? What if I fall asleep and no one finds me until tomorrow? Is there a certain amount of time after which I should I start yelling for help?

Worse, what if they’ve put me in the wrong room? What if I’m in the room where they do things like “epidermal scrapping” or “laser age removal?” That machine over there, the one with the long retractable arm that looks like a soldering iron, what’s that for? Is the doctor going to use that on me? Not if I can help it!

On the counter, there seems to be an overabundance of latex gloves for a dermatologist’s office, as well as huge piles of gauze and bandages. Dear god, maybe this is where they do the “skin replacement”! I bet that would involve quite a lot of blood and chest-pounding. They may even need to hose down the room afterward. I scan the floor for a drain, and I’m only slightly reassured when I don’t find one.

There’s a door on the other wall I didn’t notice before. Where does that lead? What if it leads to the accounting firm in the next suite, and this isn’t an examination room at all, but the accountant’s break room? I keep a close eye on my watch: is it coffee break time yet? It would be peculiar to be sitting here in my undershorts as accountants pour their coffee and talk of “amortization.” I suppose I’d just ignore them. What else could I do? Perhaps they will assume I was a client come to pay a bill.

To calm myself, I decide to try to amuse myself. Over there, on that stainless steel tray, there are some hypodermic needles. What if I just took the cap off of one and plunged it into this little glass bottle here, like I see them doing on television. There, I’ve filled it, now I'll squirt a little out of the tip (so cool!) and plunge it into my arm. There now, that hurts like hell. The accountant problem doesn’t seem so vexing by comparison.

I wonder what’s in this little bottle? Novocain, judging from the numbness spreading over my bicep. Or some sort of neurotoxin perhaps. But why would they leave neurotoxin about? Perhaps it’s Botox. Now, that clamp sitting there, I bet I can clamp my bicep and not feel anything. Nope, I was wrong. And I can’t get it off. Better inject some more neurotoxin: there, that’s mildly better.

I don’t want the doctor (or horde of accountants) to find me with a clamp stuck to my arm, so I better take some of this gauze and wrap it around it. I can claim I have some terrible injury. A doctor wouldn’t be interested in that. The accountants might be, but I owe them no explanation beyond what I’m doing in their break room. If they ask. Oh look! A scalpel! Better not mess around with that! But this gauze, let me wrap it around my arm, here. You know what would be funny? If I wrapped myself up like a mummy! I can just see the look on the doctor’s face when comes in! What a hoot! He’d be terrified! (Not sure about the accountants.) Imagine the sensational headlines: “Mummy Haunts Doctor’s Office (Accountant’s Break Room).”

And I go on like this, impossibly. I’m sure, when the doctor does arrive, he will think nothing of it. I bet lots of his patients suffer from such anxiety and uncontrollable compulsions. He probably finds them all the time in any number of strange and humorous situations: wearing surgical masks or latex gloves on their feet, using hypodermics as darts, hiding behind the soldering iron. And I’m sure the accounts’ clients are much worse.

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