Futzing around with Dr. Phartz

When I go to see a doctor, I expect to be treated with respect. Good luck with that these days. Now I’ve learned to be prepared for the unexpected.

Take yesterday, for example. I went to see a specialist whom I’ve seen before. Now it’s well known that this guy is a prima donna. I’ve accepted that. Still, there is no excuse for a doctor taking his bad mood out on you.

The scenario went something like this:

I arrive at the office of Dr. Phartz. A nurse who has clearly been on her feet too long ushers me to the treatment room. After waiting for half an hour (not bad) the doc, a put-upon look on his face, walks in.

“Hi Pat. Haven’t seen you in a while.”

Now usually when a physician says it’s been a while since he/she has seen you, that’s a good thing, right? I mean unless you’ve been avoiding doctor’s orders, it usually implies you are feeling fine. But the way Dr. Phartz  said it, it sounded like I had committed some medical ethics crime.

“No, I’ve been feeling pretty good but a—“

“Well, then why are you here?”

Dr. Phartz had a bad habit of interrupting.

“Because a couple of weeks ago my stomach started bothering me,” and I went on to describe my ailment. Or I should say I tried to describe my ailment. I didn’t get very far when Dr. Phartz butt in.

“Do YOU have a hernia?”

Huh? How would I know? I mean, isn’t he the guy who would tell me?

“Uh, not that I know of.”

“You’re a runner, yes?

“Yes. I am.”

“Well then are you sure you aren’t gulping air while you run?”

He’s kidding, right?

“I doubt it. I’ve run for years and never had a problem “gulping air.”

“All right. Get up on the table.” (A command. Not a suggestion.)

After poking and pushing on my stomach, Dr. Phartz rolled his stool away from the examination table, removed his glasses, and dropped his voice to a serious whisper. “You need a CT scan.”

“Really? What do you think the problem is?

Dr. Phartz rolled further away, stood up and let forth his theory.

“Beats me.”

Excuse me?

“Get the scan,” he said handing me the test orders. “We’ll call you with the results.”

And with that, Dr. Phartz strolled out of the room and shut the door.

“Beats me?” That’s all he had to say?

On the way out of the office the receptionist called to me.


“I think you forgot something, dear,” she said.

“I don’t think so. I have my purse. Wait a minute, did I leave my cell—“

“No, dear. We need your co-payment,” the receptionist smiled.

I wasn’t sure what I was paying for exactly. I supposed the authorization for a CT scan. I handed her my VISA card.

“Uh-oh,” said the receptionist. “There’s a problem with the credit card machine. It’s not working. Could you pay by check, dear?”

“Sorry but I don’t have my check book with me.”

It was at that point the genteel receptionist dropped her gentility.

“Look ma’am. We have a very strict policy.” She pointed at a sign—one we’ve all seen innumerable times in doctors offices—that read, “Payment must be received the same day services are rendered.”

“I understand but your credit card machine isn’t working and I don’t have my check book.”

Payment must be received the same day services are rendered,” Ms. Camp Follower reiterated.

I thought for a moment. “Services rendered.” But what services? I’d gone to the doctor to get some kind of idea about what might be causing my stomach ache. But all I’d really gotten was a befuddled, “beats me.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have a check and it’s not my problem that your machine is down. I can always mail—“

“Well,” Ms. C.F. cut me off, “just WHAT are we supposed to do about your payment?”

I thought another moment then shrugged.

“Beats me,” I said and walked out.

7 thoughts on “Futzing around with Dr. Phartz

  1. Ann

    Another perfect ending to a well-told story! So sorry you had such a disappointing exerience, but you are incredibly gifted in writing about your adventures in ways that so many of us can relate. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Peg

    Maybe it’s just Lancaster but I have never been treated like this by a doctor here. The closest I came to something like this was an orthopedic guy who was just dying to get a knife into me, but even he told me what was going on and what the possibilities were. There’s got to be a better doc!!

  3. Maria Posada

    Loved the way you responded to the receptionist! Hope you find a better doctor. No excuse for his “beats me” attitude!

  4. jimmyboi2

    Both doctor and receptionist need to find a better line of work– have they tried pin-setting at the local bowling alley ?

    Loved the ending– it’s the sort of comment I wish would spring to my mind in similar situations !!

  5. Robert Brigham

    This is so funny. Yet another case when you took a terrible situation and showed us the humor in it. This should be required reading at medical schools.

  6. eyedoc90

    I can’t defend the receptionist . . . and the doctor should have been nicer to you as well, but as a physician, try to keep in mind that doctors are human (even when they think they’re GOD) and we deal with OTHER patients. Not every one of which is a pleasure to take care of. You don’t know what kind of um, people that would try the patience of job type of people he might have encountered just before you. I got an emergency page while I was RUNNING today. A lady had red eyelids that were a little puffy. Could it be styes? An allergic reaction? Cellutitis? Panting out of breath over the phone it beats me. It’s Saturday and this is another doctor’s patient whom I am covering for. So I ask how long this has been going on. “Oh, about three weeks off and on.” SERIOUSLY???? You call a doctor who doesn’t even know you on a Saturday with a problem you’ve had for THREE FREAKING WEEKS????!!! Thank God I was running alone because I would have been a miserable bear to deal with for the next fifteen minutes while I cooled down. I can’t imagine having to go deal with someone else after that. I’m still ticked! Give Dr. Phartz a second chance–maybe he was just having a bad day. We all have those days.


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