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01.20.2003 - 6:04 p.m.


Today's visit to the doctor, a lie:

As she entered the medical building she was greeted almost instantly by a trio of willowy nurses in flowing yellow robes who bore her through the hallways, fussing and twittering about her. She was escorted to a warm, richly painted room in hues of ruby and gold, where she was given a soft cashmere wrap to wear. For the few moments that she waited, the nurses cooed and laid aromatic cloths on her aching forehead, and rubbed a soothing balm into her temples.

He strode into the room, his white coats billowing behind him. He knelt at her side, looking deep into her eyes, and traced one finger across her chest. She opened her mouth to speak, but he stopped her. I can help you, he said softly. I know exactly what this is. He pressed a small bottle containing 3 brightly colored small blue pills into her hand. Take these tonight, and by morn you will be as new. He lingered for a moment, gazing at her.

Before she could thank him, he was gone from the room, his footsteps echoing down the hall. The nurses swarmed around her again, smiling and laughing, and took her back to the entrance, where she waved goodbye and walked out into the sunlight.

Today's visit to the doctor, the truth:

She waited in line at the front desk. Although technically there was no one in front of her and therefore it wasn't actually a line, there was a stern sign informing her to wait several feet from the desk for 'patient privacy'. The various people behind the desk chatted comfortable for several minutes before one reluctantly beckoned to her.

Once her insurance was verified (she was certain she would have been driven from the building with flaming sticks had she forgotten her card), she was handed a folder and told to go to a different part of the office. She wound carefully through hallways, wishing she had brought some crumbs to mark her trail.

Seated in the examining room, she was asked why she was there. Well, she said, she'd had a horrible cold since Christmas, and now she had started coughing up a bunch of crud, and she just, you know, wanted to make sure everything was in working order. She was told to strip from the waist up and don a thin cotton robe.

She did this, and sat on the table. During the 10349012485 minutes she sat there while waiting for the doctor, she amused herself by trying to tie the rudely gaping back of the robe shut. She also idly leafed through a copy of both Parenting Today and Golf Digest.

The doctor finally entered the room and asked her why she was there. She was beginning to feel quite unwelcome, but she patiently reeled off what now sounded like the whiniest complaint on the planet. He nodded, bored. He had definitely heard this before, she felt. He peered in her mouth and in her ears. He listened to her chest. Practically stifling a yawn, he said to her that there was a lot of this going around. I can't really do anything for you, he said. It just has to run its course.

She was left to struggle out of her robe, and tentatively wander the labyrinthine halls back to the front door. She felt a little stupid. When she got to her car she drove away quickly, as if hoping to avoid detection.


This is only the third time in my adult life I've gone to a doctor outside the scope of a regular checkup. Years ago, I developed severe pain in my back that made it a shrieking horror to sit down, stand up, bend over, or do basically anything. When I finally went to the doctor, she said something like "Well, welcome to the 80% of people who experience lower back pain." And gave me a badly photocopied sheet with some exercises printed on it.

The second time was with a dermatologist a few months back about my rosacea. "Yes, it tends to get worse as you approach your thirties", I was told. "Avoid spicy foods, hot showers, the sun, and alcohol."

Where are the magical DRUGS that MAKE THE BAD STUFF GO AWAY? We can send people into space but no one can get rid of the gobs of snot that are plaguing my body?


Goodness Gracious Great Gobs O' Snot would be good name for a decongestant.

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