Last week on account of the cold weather and a cold that would not go away, I actually had to go to a regular doctor; something I’ve hardly done since my childhood pediatrician. Going to the doctor as an adult is a completely different experience than when you’re a kid. At walking in, I felt strangely large, as if I could pick up one of the chairs in the waiting area with a pinkie and place it over on the opposite side of the room. This may have had something to do with the fact that – for the first time in a long time – I was confronted with a children’s play area. Tiny chairs, tiny tables, a tiny castle that I could not fit into but the little blond boy waiting could. That’s when it struck me the unfairness of it all, where was the entertainment for adults? I didn’t want the four-month old Marie Claire or Time Magazine. Where were the hoverboards, iPads and customized Kindles? Highlights wasn’t going to do it for me…didn’t the practice realize I was a creature from the 21st century?
To make matters worse, there was a sign that instructed me to refrain from using my cell phone, and I wondered just who executed punishment when it came to patients disobeying that command? I’m pretty sure the girl behind the desk was younger than me; I was tempted to hop on a call the same way a child timidly takes that step towards the X-box during dinner when their parents just said something like “One more step and you’re in trouble Mr!” You could say I have a problem with authority.
And then the waiting…
After waiting way too long in a waiting room, you forget the strong, independent, won’t-take-no-shit woman you were just a mere forty minutes ago. Even Hillary herself would crumble in the face of the doctors-waiting-room-limbo, a universe where time seems to stand still.
While I knew deep down the world was continuing to turn, I forgot the bird-chirping sound that happens when a Tweet comes through on my phone, or the amorous swooshing – not of couples dancing in summertime – but of my email when I send something. And I was hungry…like really, unreasonably hungry seeing as I had had lunch an hour ago. The woman at the front desk gave the little blonde boy a lollipop, and I wondered where the adult options were. My mind wondered, and I came to the realization that if I were to ever run for office someday, waiting room canapés would be first on my agenda. Perhaps I should write Hillary a letter.
Finally – like in gym class roll call – my name was announced, and I’ll admit I was feeling a lot like The Chosen One. Everyone was talking about that 1.5 billion dollar Powerball prize but this…this was winning. I glided on out of that waiting room glamorously, like Naomi on a runway, soaking up my four seconds of glory.
And then the waiting came again…
But this time, this time I had to wait alone. No magazines, no people-watching, no little Tommy in his tiny castle…just me. There was no sign about cell phones so I excitedly checked back in with the real world. It only took reading a couple group texts to realize though: I couldn’t relate to these people anymore. They were living their lives out there on the outside, but I was stuck in here. I decided to adapt to my natural habitat, I would make this my home for the time being; not try to be part of a world that very well may have forgotten about me.
I examined the room: My eyes went from the stethoscope to the ear, nose and throat diagrams to the degrees from impressive colleges to the scale. Panic. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d weighed myself, and then and there I decided that if the doctor made me do so, I’d insist on getting naked beforehand; no matter how creepy that came off. I mean, my clothes and shoes alone had to weigh twenty five pounds at least right? I made the Plan B decision to simply tell myself that over and over again if she didn’t let me get naked beforehand.
Enter male doctor…a complication.
I breathed in and out as he sat down and looked at his clipboard. He jotted down a note, but what? I hadn’t even said anything yet.
The basic questions were the worst questions…
“Do you drink?”
“Do I drink?”
Perhaps if I repeated his question, he’d move onto the next one.
“Yes, do you drink alcohol?”
I had a feeling the answering-with-a-question strategy wouldn’t work.
“How many drinks would you say you have – on average – a week?”
Did little Tommy have to go through this interrogation?
“I guess it depends on the week, like you know…around 5 or something…”
I wasn’t under oath or anything…
“Do you currently or have you ever smoked?”
“Like ever ever?”
I mean there was that time I did my semester abroad in Paris. What was this? I’m Jewish I’ve never had to confess before.
“I mean I did abroad a couple times when I was in college. But not anymore.”
And that one weekend in the Hamptons.
“And you eat healthy?”
I mean, what week are we talking here?
After my own personal version of what seemed like CSI, the questions about my current condition started, and as he smiled kindly my discomfort slipped away and I told him my symptoms: Coughing, headaches, a stuffed nose, all that persisted for much longer than normal.
Turns out, I had a mere sinus infection that he prescribed a very effective antibiotic for…no harm done. And, most importantly, no scale involved; we really dodged an awkward situation there.
As I opened the door to exit, I felt as if I was a free man breathing in the air from the outside for the first time in years. It was like I had to shield the sunlight from my face as I staggered out. It all came back to me though, and I headed for a glass of wine with my friends, not even remembering that it would be number four that week and it was only Wednesday…
– Laura Kosann