So then…she opens the door ever-so-slightly, revealing a shaft of glowing light that hints at the promise of miraculous cures that lie within. Everyone stares at her expectantly.
She glances at her clipboard, then announces the name as though she were calling the winning lottery numbers.
I’m so elated that it’s finally me — I actually jump up and shout, “It’s me! It’s me!” The other patients glare at me as I skip to the door.
I can feel their critical eyes surveying my body parts with that judgmental “she doesn’t look sick” expression. Oh, please — as though they’re sporting gaping gunshot wounds to the head.
I mutter internally, “Hey, I’ve been waiting an hour and 23 minutes, my friends.”
I zip into the inner sanctum, relieved that I’ll finally have an audience with my new HMO doctor. But then I wait in the examining room another agonizing 38 minutes.
Finally, Dr. Kendall enters. He looks at my chart and my red, swollen eyes, then asks a few quick questions about any new soaps or new foods — contacted or ingested.
(I consider making a pun about ingesting a Dove bar – since it’s both a soap AND a chocolate – but think better of it as he seems to be in a hurry.)
Just as I begin to ask questions about my eye ailment, he scribbles “Benadryl” on a piece of paper and hands it to me.
“But I tried Benadryl,” I stammer. “I think this is more than an allergic rea-”
He gives me that look. You know, the “Pardon me, which one of us went to med school?” look. “Take two Benadryl a day until it clears up. You’ll be fine.” He turns to the door.
“But I have more questions. I’m worried my eyesight may start to –”
Then he does something I’ve only seen blackjack dealers do when their shift is done:
He claps his hands lightly, dusts off the palms, then holds his hands up!
HOLDS HIS HANDS UP! Like he’s saying, “That’s enough. I’m done. Time to move on.”
And with a mumbled “You’ll be fine,” he disappears.
Of all the nerve! So I call my HMO and request another doctor.
Two weeks and a $35 co-pay later, I’m sitting in the virtually empty waiting room of Dr. Simmons. Cool. This should be a much shorter wait.
Only it isn’t. I wait almost an hour, then finally I meet the good doctor — who is also the old doctor. He’s easily in his late 70’s.
I’m a little bit concerned, but he seems very thorough. He asks me for a complete medical history — and being the attention-deprived patient that I am, I gladly comply. Even though this is an eye issue, I’m so attention-deprived, I’d even disrobe if he asked. He doesn’t ask.
The doctor’s advanced age reminds me of the time my friend Jill disrobed and wore that little paper cover-up when she went to a really old doctor in Washington. When he examined her, he placed his stethoscope against her chest and asked how old her children were.
“Oh, I don’t have any children yet,” she said.
He listened to her heart and asked, “Well, when did you have your appendix out?”
Perplexed, she responded, “I still have my appendix.”
So he said, “Oh. Well, then what is this scar from?”
She looked at her abdomen and said, “Doctor, that’s the indentation my pantyhose left when I took them off!”
I’m worried that septuagenarian Dr. Simmons might also confuse pantyhose lines for a surgery scar, but perhaps I’m being ageist.
Dr. Simmons takes my eye ailment very seriously. He takes all the time in the world to answer my questions. He deeply respects me. He’s awesome!
I happily take Dr. Simmons’ prescription to the pharmacist, relieved that I’m close to the cure. I pick up the ointment, pay the pharmacist, and just as I leave, he says, “Now remember, keep that away from your eyes.”
“What? What? This ointment is for my eyes!” I exclaim. “I’m supposed to slather this all over my eyes twice a day for a week!”
The pharmacist looks at the prescription again. He shakes his head and says, “Your doctor prescribed *dio_____________. He probably meant to prescribe *mono______________.”
In disbelief, I ask, “And the difference between the dio and the mono is—“
“Uh, well…blindness,” he says.
I’m in shock. “How could he…I mean…I just…he’s supposed to know…this is insane!”
We’re silent a moment. Then the pharmacist looks at me and says, “HMO?”
We lock eyes. I nod. He pats my shoulder.
— Darcy Perdu
*I can’t recall the names of the two medications, but the difference between “good for eyes” and “causes blindness” was literally the first few letters of the medication names! What the hell’s wrong with you, pharmaceutical drug-namers!? And THANK YOU, vigilant pharmacists!
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Original Illustration for So Then Stories created by Mary Chowdhury
(Any busy doctors who didn’t have time for your questions — or who exhibited odd behavior? Share your FUNNY Medical Stories in the Comments!)