I have a doctor’s appointment coming up this week, which brought to mind a piece I did a while back for an online writing class. It ended up on the slush pile because the word count exceeded the limit. Though loosely based on real-life events, this story-with-a-twist is fictional:
When the smiling medical assistant calls my name, I get up and follow her down the hallway to the examination room. I don’t know about you, but all that smiling gets on my nerves. Why do they always have to be so damn cheerful as they lead you to the slaughter? The paper-covered table awaits. She gestures and says,“You know the drill, everything off from here down. Dr. Shwarma will be in to see you in a minute.”
I remove no more than absolutely necessary, stack my things neatly on the pink pleather chair in the corner, and sit down on the table to wait. The doctor will not be in “in a minute.” That’s just another glib lie they tell you. The air conditioning is chilly and I wish I had one of those little mini-sheets to cover up with. I guess modesty isn’t as big a deal where Dr. Shwarma is from, but she’s generally pleasant and competent, so I keep my complaints to myself.
In due time, Dr. Shwarma arrives. She gives three quick raps on the door, then squeaks it open before I have a chance to holler Come in. “Gooood morning,” she sings through the entryway, as she grabs my chart and flips it open. “You are here today for check-up…” she says.
I can’t tell if it’s a statement or a question, but I can see clear into the hallway behind her so I answer in the affirmative, hoping she’ll come inside and shut the door before the whole clinic gets a free show.
“Well then, let’s have a look.” She slides on the half-glasses hanging from a silver chain around her neck and begins her exam. I stare up at the ceiling and try to escape to my happy place, but her near-constant commentary is distracting. “The anatomy here is a bit unusual,” she says, touching the weird part with her gloved finger. “It’s nothing to worry about, just something to be aware of. If function is affected or
it bothers you,” she prattles, “there is surgery that can be done. Does
it cause you any problems? Any pain?”
“Nope,” I say curtly, hoping she’ll get the hint and move things along.
“You have a small lesion here that should come off. I can remove it for you now, if you like. That would save you another trip, yes?”
There is nothing I would like less, but I nod. I don’t want to have to come back. She fills in a few blanks on a consent form and has me scribble my signature at the bottom. She roots around in a nearby drawer, grabs a sterile package, and peels it open. She withdraws a throwaway scalpel and leans toward me. I scoot back. “You’re just going to cut it off, just like that? Shouldn’t you numb it first?”
“There are no nerves here,” she says. “It will not cause any pain.”
My mouth is dry and my heart is racing. I brace myself as she presses the blade against my flesh but she’s right, I don’t feel a thing.
“This,” she says, holding up a thin slice of tissue, “is a benign thickening caused by overuse and friction. You do not have much cushion there, between the surface and the bone.” She rolls her little stool backward and discards her gloves in the trash can. “As long as there is no pain or bleeding, you may resume your normal activities today.” Then, almost as an afterthought, she points and says, “You might want to trim those. Or perhaps treat yourself to a professional job. Summer fashions can be quite revealing, as you know.”
I am beyond embarrassed. The minute the door clicks shut, I yank my socks and shoes back on and grab my purse. On the way out, I stop to schedule my follow-up. Though the dog days of August are still in full swing, the clerk’s desk sports a Halloween-themed bowl of corn pads next to a crafty wooden sign that says “Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet.” Podiatry humor. Ugghhh.
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