I walked in (hence the name of the clinic) and recognized the receptionist, which meant I knew the doctor on duty, her husband. “Hi Brian.” She said. “Have you ever seen Dr. Smith before?” And I was suddenly confused on a couple levels. First, when I see her husband, Dr. Smith, at the mall, at church or in a meeting we’re both at he’s always just ‘Ed’, not even ‘Dr. Ed’. When I realized she was talking about her husband I was then confused on level two. Of course I’ve seen her husband. She knows that, we run into each other all the time.
This confusion is a part of my ‘condition’. Once, when the elusive Donna and I were driving to the States we got to the border at St. Stephen and before we crossed I stopped to get a coffee and donut at Tim Horton’s. The donut I got happened to be an apple fritter with chunks of apple in the cinnamon, sugar and dough. At border the guard always asks a few questions and this time he ended with, “are you bringing any fresh fruit or vegetables with you?” And I froze. I was thinking, “well, this donut is fresh and it has fruit in it.” and as I thought about my answer, Donna leaned over me and said, “No.” “Have a nice visit.” He said. I was still thinking and Donna stuck her foot over and stepped on my foot on the accelerator and we were across the border.
So I finally come to and use Donna’s answer with the receptionist, “No.” That sent me back to the car for my medical card and in no time at all I had my name on the bottom of the list and I took my seat and waited for my turn. As I sat there I played the “don’t talk to me” game with the other patients. If someone was bleeding out I’d chat with them, chances being pretty good that you can’t ‘catch’ a knife wound. But everyone in the waiting room seems basically well on the outside, like me, so I figure they’ve got something horribly contagious, again like me, and what I have is bad enough without cross contamination from everyone else. So I read and spy on a little boy in the ‘baby corral’ secretly wishing for him to get the freedom he is crying for.
When there are two of us left, Mrs. Smith calls my name. I look at the other person in the waiting area and smile, “Sucker!”, and make my way through the magic door to wellness.
I don’t wait long in the exam room. Doctor Smith comes in, we chat a bit and then he asks me what brings me in as he types what I’m saying on to his computer. “My wife can’t sleep.” He stops typing and looks at me with one eye brow raised. “I mean I’m coughing so much at night that I keep waking her up and she thought I should come in and get checked out.” Waking up Donna, once she’s been asleep, should only be done if the house is on fire or one of the kids is sick. Pretty much in that order.
So he listens to my lungs for a long time. A very long time. Probably the most thorough lung-listening I’ve ever had a doctor do. Of course I’m thinking lung cancer when he says, “Have you ever been on an inhaler?” Again I’m stuck and I have to tell him a story about the time “I had an ulcer and a doctor filling in for my regular doctor prescribed an inhaler because of the way I was describing my pain and the inhaler didn’t help with the pain at all and my regular doctor diagnosed me with an ulcer when he got back and gave me Zantac and took me off the puffer and my pain got better but when I had some people pray for me it was completely healed, so yes, I’ve had an inhaler before.”
Again with the raised eyebrow. “I’ll write you a prescription for anti-biotics in case you have bronchitis because it sounds like you have some kind of infection.” So we chatted a bit and I double checked to make sure he didn’t think I had pneumonia but was just trying to break it to me gently. “No, I don’t hear anything like pneumonia but if you don’t look after this it could get worse I suppose.” He handed me the ‘script and I said, “Thanks!” and I was on my way.
I was in my car, about a block away, heading to the pharmacy when I started thinking, “Why did he ask me about an inhaler? Does he think I need one? Do I have asthma? Is there something wrong with my breathing? Why would he ask me about an inhaler?”
So here I am, sick of being sick, taking my anti-biotic (which I think translates “against life”, not sure of my latin on that, any one?), pumped full of cough syrup and thinking about operating some heavy machinery. I hope you’re feeling better than I am but if we meet up in the doctor’s office, don’t take it personally if I don’t talk to you.