Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How TB Gets You The Best Seat in the House!

I went to the doctor today for my allergies and sure enough there were ten billion people in Part One Waiting Room. This particular pill pusher has devised a system to keep customers happy by making them think they aren’t waiting ten million hours to see a doctor. It keeps getting more and more like Disney in the sense there’s the two hours in line for the two minute attraction, and there’s a rat running the system.

I’ve discovered Procedural Masks. No, silly, this has nothing to do with some trick a lawyer pulls in court, these are great pollen masks, just don’t wear them into convenience stores. So I’m figuring wearing one in the Part One Waiting Room is just fine. The Part One Waiting Room has a television that is volume controlled: whoever yells the loudest for their favorite channel controls it. I’m surprised, really, there are not more people, but I haven’t been educated yet. There’s room for a few more people, and there are a lot of empty chairs. I’ve learned to sit in the one place in the room where the television cannot be seen, and you will sit alone. Not today. Some burly redneck comes in, sits down beside me, and starts bitching about the women in the room controlling the television. I’m reading “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury and I’m liking it. I’m wearing earplugs because I’m listening to music. I stare at the guy for a second, and then start coughing like my lungs are turning inside out. I mean I lay down on the cough, and the Procedural mask jumps around like a leaf in a dryer. The redneck stops his bitchin’ and looks at me, as half expecting something to fight its way out of my chest.
“Sorry, bout that, man” I rasp, “That TB ain’t no joke, I tell you.” I wipe my mouth with my hand, wipe it on my pants leg, and then stick my hand out to him, “I’m Mike, glad to meet’cha”.
I get that same look when I’m holding a live rattlesnake.

He retreats without shaking my hand, and gets as far away from me as he can. I grin behind the mask as two women who have overheard the exchange get up and move three chairs away. The receptionist looks at my chart. She looks at me and frowns. I cough again and she starts looking me up on her computer. Time to move me on down the line, it seems.

Waiting Room Part Two is a broom closet with a thermometer in it. See! There is no reason on earth to put me into the broom closet until someone is there to tell me I have a fever, or not, but I sit there for ten minutes. The Frowning Receptionist comes in and frowns at me. “Mr Firesmith, I have no record of you being here for Tuberculoses.”
“Well, it’s not like they put you in an ambulance for it.” I snark back at her. Without taking my vitals, without asking me a single question, without so much as wondering if there was a problem, the last time I was here they called an ambulance to come get me because I fell asleep in the waiting room. I had an “appointment” but after an hour I dozed off and this woman, sans medical experience of Bert, decided to call an ambulance because I had “passed out”. Needless to say, I didn’t get into the damn thing.

I’m some sort of freak in the medical community. I do not give a damn what they want. I do not give a shit about some new wonder drug for my already very low cholesterol or some pill that will give me a new mortgage rate, or whatever. I’ve been treating this one medical problem I’ve got for longer than this silly little bitch has been alive. “Don’t you have a phone to answer?” I don’t really say this but I stare her down. Put a moron in a white lab coat and you still have a moron.
A pseudo nurse comes in to discover I’ve gained three pounds since last year, my pulse rate is exactly the same, my temperature hasn’t moved, and blood pressure matches to a number last year’s low reading. For this I waited fifteen minutes? But here’s the kicker…Waiting Room Part Three.

There’s along row of chairs in a hallway where people who have been vitaled now wait for…something else? I sit down between two bored looking women and start hacking up a lung. “Damn, TB!” I finally gasp. “Who knew it was transferrable sexually?” The two women squeak and retreat. The doctor wanders by and sees me sitting there with four seats on either side of me, empty. Three people have retreated to the television at Waiting Room Part One. Frowny Face pulls him to the side and frowns at me. He doesn’t like me either.

Last time I was here I refused antibiotics, which I think are evil and I refused to take a Cortisone shot, which I didn’t need. I did tell him I wanted Codeine and that blew his mind. He looks at me, looks at the other patients, and sighs. Lesser of evils, yea. “I can see you now, Mr. Firesmith”

We sit in a room just slightly larger than a broom closet. “No antibiotics, “ he reads, “I remember you” he doesn’t sat it but the word ambulance forms on his face. “He reads some more and sighs. “Why don’t you just tell me what you want?”
Well, gee, thank you for asking! Why the hell NOT? It’s my damn body, it’s my money, it’s certainly my time we’re on, and you, after a half dozen times of seeing me, you suddenly realize that short of there being some sort of multi-legged organism doing the Rockettes kick while growing out of my forehead, MY OPINION IN THE PREVAILING ONE!
“I want to see an allergy specialist.” I tell him. “I want to find out what I am allergic to, and get shots for it.”

“I suggested this three years ago, “he reads to me.
“And three years ago I told you when I was ready to see a specialist, I would.” I reply.

“I’m ready.” I say.

Take Care,
Mike

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