The Doctor’s Office

I finally decided to see the doctor today, when my terrible sore throat turned into a fever with body aches and a rattling bronchial cough. Since I didn’t already have an appointment, I was told I could be a walk-in patient but I’d have to wait.

After an hour of waiting in a nearly empty waiting room, I was joined by a teenager who’d been stung by a bee. Her father was an asshole. They took the bee-sting girl and left me to wait, coughing my guts out. I asked why the girl got to be seen before me, and that seemed to elevate the hostility from behind the window.

I lay down across some chairs, and tried to stop coughing. Patients arrived and were led behind the door to see their doctors. They were all fat. The women behind the glass window were fat as well, and spoke in proud pidgin English or whatever it’s called when you’re Latina and refuse to use proper grammar.

A father arrived with four kids under the age of ten. I was entranced by how gently he brushed his son’s hair behind an ear stuffed with cotton. The youngest child walked over to me to look at the fish tank. We talked about the stuff in the tank and she called the sponge a “ponge.”   I was brokenhearted when her father took her away to see their doctor.

Three hours passed. I decided that the office women were punishing me for not being fat. I wanted to stick my head through the window and scream, “It’s not my fault I’m not fat.”

Meanwhile, I brought a book with me that I’ve meant to read for years: The Afterlife, by Donald Antrim. It turned out to be a memoir about a crazy mother. The writing is amazing. The kind of writing that hits the exact right spot, like sex. It was so intense that I had to keep putting it down to recover from it.

Finally, I pretended to have to use the restroom, and I went behind the door. I sat on a chair in the hall where no one could ignore me, and coughed dramatically.

A doctor I’ve never met before asked me what the problem was. I told her that one problem was the 3 1/2 hour wait. I confided that it was punitive because the office women hated me. She reacted badly to this so I apologized and told her my symptoms.

She gave me some antibiotics, some cough syrup with codeine, and a ridiculous lecture about my attitude. She told me that there was a time to be stoic and a time to be vulnerable. Except she said “vunerable” without the L. That was the last straw. I felt a visceral* repugnance for this doctor, who then went on to ask “What are you doing for yourself?” I am always disgusted by that question and I   don’t like to lower myself to answer it. I told her, Well, I write.

She said, “That doesn’t count. I mean, like music.”

*The word for this week is visceral.

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35 Responses to The Doctor’s Office

  1. Miggs says:

    God, this is just another example of why I hate doctors. They’re so goddamn smug.

  2. arline says:

    I loathe the doctors office, and would be furious after waiting three and a half hours to get a lecture on my attitude.

  3. Question says:

    I don’t get the final quote. What does she mean, “That doesn’t count. I mean, like music.”? She wanted to know what kind of music you are listening to? Or that writing doesn’t count as a profession just as music doesn’t??

  4. alittlelux says:

    how disgusting! i was completely traumatized by a doctor last year ( everything from the first reviewer happened to me. ultrasound, dirty looks and comments, hour long waits…. i would leave the office crying. all i wanted was birth control!

    perhaps you should have bargained with the lady in the front office? you could have promised to gain 20 pounds to get in before bee sting girl? tempted her with twinkies?

  5. Faux Fuchsia says:

    Hey Sister, I hope you are feeling better.

    In Australia, they’d never let you wait 3 hours to see a General Practitioner!!!! That’s insane! I love my GP, he is so kind and sweet. Can’t you get a new doctor? I actually had to go to hospital a week ago for emergency surgery and the doctors and nurses were so lovely that I wrote them thankyou notes and sent the nurses flowers.

    I don’t understand the American Health Care system.

    It sounds flawed.

  6. boops says:

    from time to time at work i deal with doctors in training…they’re a bunch of douchebags and need to be knocked down a peg or two.

  7. JK says:

    Sis? That’s the “new and improved inake questionaire” for fine built women.

    The correct answer is (if it’s a female doc) “Thine cunthair glare, I stare and am aware you’re aware” at that last moment of that last “aware” hawk a loogie on her labcoat. And look contrite.

    If male – “I’m sick, you look like a dick, let’s compare pricks.”

    Both approaches work best with sputum forcefully ejected onto white clothes, and all sing-song appropriated from Mr. Rogers.

    But my personal prescription to get that phlegm ejaculated is to watch a campaign commercial for an Arkansas School Board position.

    Actually, it’s amazing how “truth in politics” translates into feeling good.

  8. that is dreadful! holy shit that is shit. 3 and a half hours!
    I get hoity toity with the receptionists if I have to wait 20minutes! As for the doctor….speechless.

  9. GPs are nothing but over-paid, glorified script-writers. They couldn’t diagnose something serious if it came up, hacked a spraying cough in their face, and tap-danced on their porsche. Invariably whenever I go to the doctor feeling like death warmed over they either advise me to go home, take a paracetamol and get some rest (that will be $80 please) or write me a script for some crappy drug they get kickbacks for prescribing.

  10. hammie says:

    Oh Sis! I had to go twice this week because the first time I went the new doctor didnt know my history and started talking about Echineaca and bed rest and taking it easy to get over it by myself.
    2 days later I came back, cried, begged and coughed sputum (a bit bloody as I have had several blood noses in the course of this infection) and then got the empically tested, multinational evidence based pharmaceuticals that I wanted in the first place.

    At no point did I have to wait more than 15 minutes! So I am so sorry for you. Is because of medical insurance issues, or just a shitty no appointment doctor?

    but I like that we both did the coughing up sputum trick in the same week! xx

  11. scout says:

    Sister Wolf, I was all excited to settle in and read another one of your rants about egregious medical malfeasance, but was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

    “The women […] spoke in proud pidgin English or whatever it’s called when you’re Latina and refuse to use proper grammar.”

    Well, as a Latina who “refused to use proper grammar” until I was 14 or so (i.e., I grew up in the hood and attended some of the shittiest, most underfunded, decaying, demoralizing, bug-ridden, laughable excuses for public schools known to man), I’d like to tell you that as soon as I got out (i.e., got a scholarship to a good private school), I picked up “proper grammar” pretty quickly. Now when I go back to my old neighborhood, the Minervas and Marias I grew up with, the ones who never got out, still speak that “proud pidgin” that annoys you so much. Utter hopelessness and lack of upward mobility is a bitch.

    You’re usually so insightful; I wish you could see that those Latinas don’t exist to annoy you, but are the product of an injustice at least as great as the fucked-up health care system you regularly decry. Get pissed at the system, not the people who are victimized by it.

  12. Deni says:

    Funny, you must belong to the same group I belong to, because it sure sounds so familiar. My group is on the 2nd floor in SM between a number and a state street? I was mocked by my doctor when I asked her about a natural remedy. Oye vey, I long for the days of mid-wives and witch doctors who listened, were compassionate, and gave you the time of day in exchange for a chicken or bad of veggies.
    Feel better Sister Wolf, drink plenty of tea (not coffee).Try Tulsi tea if any one can get it for you. And steam your sinuses. Just breath in steam vapors from a pot of recently boiled water with a towel over you head.
    Be well,

  13. Deni says:

    It’s bag not bad of veggies, but you already knew that. Well at least I haven’t sullied my record of consistently making typos.

  14. andrea says:

    The way you were treated was beyond horrible! What is with the drs in California? My dog is treated better in her vet’s office than you were treated! You know that if you lived in NY I would get you in to see a dr who would never treat anyone that way. Get well soon. : )

  15. andrea says:

    Also, drink some hot ginger lemonade. Get some fresh ginger, a lemon and some honey. In a mug, grate a teaspoon of ginger (or half, depending on how strong you can stand the ginger), squeeze half a lemon, and a tsp of honey. Pour boiling water into the mug and let this sit for about 5 min. Then you may drink it as is, or strain the liquid into another mug. It always helps me when I have your symptoms, and my daughter always asks me to make it for her when she is sick too. It just feels like it is burning away all the bad germs. Again, feel better!

  16. Aja says:

    Oh my goodness. Just reading this makes me want to punch that Dr. straight in the head. And people say we don’t need better healthcare in this country. Riiiiiiight.

  17. Sister Wolf says:

    Question – She appeared to be saying that writing has no benefit as stress-relieving. And here I thought that self-expression was cathartic or something.

    scout- Okay, I hear you. But these women work in a medical office and have to deal with the public. I don’t expect them to speak like professors. Maybe they cling to Hood vernacular as a defense against the rich white patients? Oh well. My husband is a first generation Mexican American, in case you’re interested.

    Hammie – What’s wrong with us?? Is it Mom Syndrome or SWine Flu or what??

    andrea – That sounds so comforting! I want that.

    Aja – I am continually shocked by how uncaring the caring professions are.

  18. Queen Marie says:

    The word of the week is ‘cow’
    Your doctor sounds like a one.
    I have dispatched the Palace Guards to escort her to the tower.
    She will pay for her folly!!!!
    Be well…
    Queen Marie

  19. as i sit here sick myself i want to reach my (weak) hands through the computer and throttle that fuckingdoctor. authoritative assholes is what they are who do absolutely nothing but prescribe medicine.

  20. WendyB says:

    I wouldn’t hate you because you’re thin, but I might take issue with your amazing hair out of jealousy.

  21. My sympathies on your Dr. ordeal.
    I’m sick too. Sucks.

  22. Juri says:

    Damn you, Sister Wolf, I would like to hear some happy doctor stories for a change but nobody ever tells them! I have convinced myself that this year will be a good one for paying attention to my liver and putting some time aside to go through the intereron treatment for my hepatitis C.

    But the problem is I loathe doctors and hospitals. I can’t stand either of them! And to get in touch with a liver doctor I must call “my” GB (that is, the 60 something village doctor the Danish system has attached me to). Then I must speak broken Danish on the phone, make an appointment and tell him I’ve had hep C since the early 90s and want him to hook me up with a liver guy. Then I must do my best to pretend I do not noticce the contempt he’s breathing in my ear, and bite my tongue so that I don’t tell him “I pay taxes and haven’t done drugs since 1993.” It’s free but it’s so fucking annoying.

    Your doctor was a cunt. You should have written “-what a fucking cunt (TM)” under her name on the sign and asked her, “what do YOU do for yourself, you cunt?” I hope the medicine works, though. Go easy with the cyrup!

  23. Kim says:

    What a horrible story. If something like this happens again and you don’t have an appointment, I strongly suggest going to an Urgent Care facility. You usually get in within 30 minutes.

  24. theresa says:

    visceral is a good choice. It hisses.

    and why should human beings be expected to trust people who find a diseased/broken body a thing to fiddle with and profit from?
    fuck that.

    I’ll check out The Afterlife.

  25. Finding a responsive doctor is a lottery. I went to he emergency room Monday afternoon, after a very bad weekend, with chest and arm pains. The ER doc was very responsive and intelligent. Tests showed that, at least as of Monday, no heart troubles. Probably referred pain from esophageal acid reflux.

    These days, I Google doctors’ names. Their are now various sites where you can see patient ratings on doctors. I check those.

  26. Sisimae says:

    That is disgusting. In england, we are encouraged or told not to see a doctor if we got a flu. Because if you want medication, forget it. If you want any kind of examination, forget it. Because they just really haven’t got the time or the money to deal with you unless you are dying. I was once left in emergency room for 12 hours, with some condition that I cannot pee. My stomach was like a watermelon, but they still won’t see me. It sounds gross, but that’s the way it is. They thought I was lying.

  27. Bevitron says:

    Sister, I seriously think you’re on to something with your thin theory of execrable office treatment. As one whose weight is either going up or going down, I’ve been on both sides of the flabbage and sometimes hell hath no fury like a plump girl out-thinned.

    Anyway, let me tell you a tactic that’s worked for me (twice) im situations similar to yours – a walk-in with no appt…. I had the usual coughing, fever, & sore throat. When the sliding-glass window person told me about the looong wait ahead of me, how the drs have patients with appointments, etc., I got all Mimi (La Boheme) and humble and said how sorry I was, I realize I’ll have to be worked in, not a problem – laid it on real thick – then I sat in chair in the corner with my alarming cough (not an act) and they took me back real fast. To be fair, though, I once used the aggressive, disgruntled approach and it worked too. But most of the time, nothing works.

    The steam-breathing is an excellent idea – it always helps me. So, are you better? I hope you’re better. Eat oranges and blueberries (if you can afford them) and drink Vodka.

  28. Juri says:

    Sisimae, I hear you – Swine flu was lots of fun in Scandinavia! I suppose I had that in September – judged from the symptoms. Sweden, Finland and Norway chose to vaccinate everybody, and people were fist-fighting in the vaccination cue (in Funland, at least) when the vaccinations begun. It was lots of fun reading about that in the papers.

    In Denmark, on the other hand, we were told to stay at home so that we don’t come and contaminate others. It doesn’t matter, since the swine flu was just a hoax, but as soon as a real pandemic hits Denmark we’ll all be dead. When push comes to shove, this cuntry can’t govern its own arse.

  29. ching says:

    hey boop, you’re really nasty for saying that. i’m a medical student and i think from where i come from (South east asia), we’re generally pretty humble and are the ones constantly getting picked on by everyone in the hospital. please don’t say such things, it’s really ignorant and a generalization.

    anyway sisterwolf hope you feel better. i hate long waiting room times. the longest i waisted for one time was in the emergency department– a total of 3 hours. so i totally understand your pain. take care now.

  30. i like my scrambled eggs when they’re still a bit visceral.

    i gave up on my doctor. i think her vision of the future destroyed her mind. really. last time i saw her she lightened the mood with “the world is descending into chaos’. her and many other well-moneyed professionals have bought land up north in BC, Canada. and have created a self-sustaining community. so as to protect themselves from this impending chaos thing. not reassuring. and i moved. and i hear people don’t have doctors anymore. welcome to the future.

    sorry about your crap doctor visit. they should just set up a torture rack in that office.

  31. dust says:

    My doctor at the moment can handle only one disease at the time, so if I come with a question about my chronic condition AND ear infection, he gets totally confused and useless.

  32. Alicia says:

    It amazes me how you haven’t gone on a mass choking spree. It really, really does.

  33. Ann says:

    Your doctor blows. Where did she find her staff, in that nursing home that held Max captive last year? And while there may be a time to be stoic and a time to be vulnerable, which was it you were supposed to be as you lay dying in a room with uncomfortable chairs and shitty periodicals?

    Maybe you can get yourself some cancer, like me. There is no wait in a waiting room when you have cancer! It’s like walking into Neiman Marcus with a black American Express card – you are immediately taken seriously and waited on hand and foot. It’s almost a fair trade.

  34. Sil says:

    What a shit of doctor. I have now one of the really less doctors in Spain that are kind, and use the brains God (supposely) gave them, and I have not changed my adress at Health Care Sistem just because if I do I will get another doctor. Come on, now I have one I trust a bit…
    Here sometimes you wait more in ER than at regular doctor.

    Get well soon!!!!

  35. Mark says:

    Mother of God! I believe those women did indeed resent you for being thin. They resented you for not immediately supplicating yourself to them. They resented you for not instantly respecting the tiny bit of power they have on this planet. I say, fuck them.

    And that doctor! What a fucking cunt (TM). Wow.

    Here’s my medical maltreatment story:

    Night sweats and beyond-human-comprehension headaches. A left hand that was so painfully cramped that I couldn’t unfist without wincing and yelping. Day three, my urine darkened. So I went to ‘urgent care,’ thinking I had a kidney infection–I’ve had them before.

    Four hours later, I was called into see a grouchy cunt nurse, who looked as if she had partied hard all through the ’80s. I told her that I had a history of kidney problems and that my urine was dark, so I thought I might have a kidney infection. She scoffed, and told me not to diagnose myself. I told her that I wasn’t diagnosing myself–that’s why I came here, to be diagnosed and treated. I might have said it with a tone. Whatever the case, I was sent back to the waiting room for another two hours–because of, I think, the gouchy cunt nurse, who pretty much emptied the waiting room three times before she finally called me back.

    In the back, I was seen by a no-affect PA, who began to take my blood pressure and temperature and then was distracted. He looked like an uglier version of a young Robby Benson. He left that squeezing cuff on my arm and the thermometer in my mouth for eleven minutes before I finally removed them. He returned for a moment and said only, “You took it off.”

    Next was the doctor, a balding, nervous man with a pasty pallor and breath like rotting dead squirrels. He confirmed that there was indeed blood in my urine, but that I had no kidney infection. That was $1700.

    The night sweats and dark urine continued, so I went to my own doctor, a GP. He was out of town, so I saw his partner. He told me that my urine was dark because I was dehydrated from the night sweats. When I asked him about the night sweats and the cramped hand, he said the sweats were most likely from a flu virus and the cramped hand might be because of my cholesterol-lowering medication. He advised me to stop taking the cholesterol-lowering medication.
    That was $350.

    A few days later, I noticed a bull’s eye rash on my arm. I had Lyme disease. I live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, the Lyme disease capital of the world. All those fuckers at the hospital and my GP’s partner never brought it up–even though this was July, the height of Lyme disease season and the nadir of flu season.

    The really scary thing is that if I hadn’t have gotten the bull’s eye rash (like a large percentage of Lyme patients), I would have never known I had Lyme disease, and it would have gone untreated and perhaps progressed into chronic Lyme.


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