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.
“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.