Thursday, February 2, 2012

We Grew Old Together....

When I moved to Topeka in my very early 20's, finding a doctor before I needed one never occurred to me. On the fourth day of intensifying pain and the escalating fever of a raging strep throat infection, a moment of alarming clarity prompted me to go directly to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. There I met the man with whom I have had the longest, most enduring male relationship of my life: Dr. O. 

By the time I went for medical attention, the infection had almost reached the tipping point. The young emergency room doctor was brusque and his demeanor was quite stern. I feebly tried to joke with him, but he ignored all humor and made sure I knew how ill I was, in his professional opinion. I thought he really needed to smoke a joint and listen to some Santana. 

It was strep throat that brought us together again a couple of years later. Dr. O was no longer an emergency room doctor but an internal medicine doctor in family practice. I recognized his name in the phone book and was lucky to be accepted as a new patient. Aside from the OB-GYN and a few specialists, I never strayed to another doctor's office. 

For over three decades, Dr. O was the go-to guy. His professional face never changed from that same stern, no-nonsense expression. He was always so serious that I just could not help kidding around with him. I usually had to explain, "It's a joke." But I never, ever had to sit in his waiting room for more than a couple of minutes. I rarely had to wait more than five minutes for him in the examination room. His nurses and staff were excellent, professional, on time, and they dealt with the insurance companies like elite ninjas! I once wrote a thank-you to Dr. O and his staff for the excellent organization and finely tuned management of their office. I once told Dr. O he had ruined me from ever seeing another doctor. He almost smiled, then caught himself. 

He did not like it when I disobeyed his orders, but he did not seem to take it personally. My most serious rebellion was not going in for emergency gall bladder surgery many, many years ago. Last January when I finally had the gall bladder removed, I believe he was quite pleased that his original diagnosis at last came to fruition, even though 14 years passed between Dr. O's recommendation and the actual surgery. 

He was always a careful, respectful and excellent doctor. He mentioned several times I was not a "frequent flier", which was true, but still my file was very thick simply from the amount of time I had been his patient. In the last ten years or so of our relationship he had lightened up considerably and actually smiled at some of my jokes. He even cracked one or two of his own. (Santana and pot? Maybe!) 

I have to say, I took our relationship for granted. One day it occurred to me that he might actually retire.  I asked if he was planning to retire any time soon, because I was getting to the age I was probably going to be needing him a lot more. He actually chuckled and replied that he had three kids in college, so he was not going anywhere. I was relieved. 

But all good things must come to an end. Dr. O retired in December of 2011. I did not get to tell him goodbye or thank you for all of those years. When I attempted to get set up with another doctor in his clinic, the woman on the phone was such a pain in the ass that I finally hung up on her. Apparently, Dr. O's staff retired, too. 

I found a group of women doctors practicing family medicine and luckily for me, one of the doctors was accepting new patients. I met Dr. R last week in my initial patient interview. I like her a lot. She commented on the length of time I had been Dr. O's patient. I sighed and said "Yes, we grew old together....". She laughed! She knew it was a joke. We are going to get along just fine. She did not know Dr. O, but mentioned she was getting a lot of his patients. (I must not be the only one who could not get past the dragon lady!) In discussing my overweight status, I deadpanned that I no longer looked cool riding my Harley. Her instant response was "EVERYBODY looks cool riding a Harley!" That made me laugh.
To kill some time while waiting in the new, foreign examination room, I took out my camera to review the photos I have recently taken. That is how I was able to record the following horrific images:
Profound torture can and does happen here...

Innocent enough.... until I saw this:
No one wants to see this combination!


Jackie said...

I am sorry about the loss of formatting in this post.... it's a mystery I don't have time to solve right now...

Li'l Ned said...

One of the worst things about getting older is seeing the providers of one's medical and/or dental care getting younger and younger. I haven't had a regular doctor .... ever. Just not sick enough. And I am allergic to male OB/GYNs. But having an older doctor is so comforting! So glad you found a good new one. Loved hearing about Dr. O!