I was having chest pains so I made an appointment with the doc.
Naturally I’d cooked up all sorts of horrific explanations for what was causing this pain. Really, more of a dull ache. A slow growing cancer no doubt, or perhaps the early onset of emphysema, or maybe I’d even hit the jackpot with heart disease. As these diagnoses crossed my mind, I could feel their symptoms worsening, their presence becoming ever more certain.
I’d never been to this guy before, he was uptown, but as I scanned the list of doctors available to me on my insurance carrier’s website, I deliberately selected the one with the Asian name. I’m not entirely sure why I did this. At any rate, let’s call him Dr. Huang.
When I got to Huang’s office, his elderly Asian male secretary handed me the customary new patient forms, except these were clearly created on a typewriter. There were stacks and stacks of paper everywhere, it was chaos behind that front desk. It frightened me. If this is how they keep their practice, how good is their medical care? Then a second thought occurred to me. No, this is good. They’re not all bogged down with the latest technology, they’re the homier sort, they care about people, not metrics.
So Huang calls me back to his office, and starts to ask me some questions. He laughs at me when I tell him I looked him up online. “Tee hee. I get more and more people finding me online, which I find so funny! You could die from a misprint.”
Okay then. This guy is tickled, but I’m not really in the ha-ha mood.
He tells me my insurance numbers look all wrong, but that his secretary is dyslexic and maybe it’s his fault. “He’s a good guy, he sometimes messes up the numbers—and when he does this, the bloods aren’t accurate.”
What’s this now? Good god, why keep this scrambled old man employed?! WE ARE SICK! We need bloods, whatever they are, and for the love of god we need them to be accurate.
“Where did you grow up?” he asks.
“Central Jersey, right off Route 1.”
“Do you go into the woods a lot?”
“I’m asking because you’ve got to be careful of Lyme’s disease. It’s basically syphilis. Tee hee!”
I don’t know why, but I was beginning to trust this quack. If he was this openly insane with how he spoke to his patients, perhaps I could be certain that he’d give it to me straight when it comes to my condition.
Into the examination room we go, I strip to my skivvies and he returns to poke and prod me on the table. “You’re very fair-skinned. Have to be careful of melanoma. It’s very bad, very bad.”
“Yeah, there’s been some in my family.”
“Yes. And it can appear on the bottoms of the feet,” he said as he examined my own. Just then, his eyes narrowed. It appeared as though he’d noticed something on the bottom of my right foot. He looked closer and closer, pushing the skin around, ogling the area with great care and curiosity. Do I have foot melonoma, is that what this all boils down to?
“Tee hee. Just some dirt,” he says. “But it can appear on the bottom of the feet. I had one patient who had two melonoma spots on the feet. I missed one. I feel bad about that.”
He feels bad about that. HE FEELS BAD ABOUT THAT?! Booooom, mind blown. I love this man. He’s so transparent. I believe everything he says. You know, we just want honesty. We want truth. Give it to me straight doc. You know? Your friends can’t give it to you straight, your parents can’t give it to you straight, and your boss can’t give it to you straight. But this doc, well, apparently he’s straight as an arrow. A crazy, crazy arrow.
He continued the examination and concluded with a great deal of certainty that it was stress that was causing these chest pains and sent me on my way with some sort of souped up aspirin that should do the trick. I kind of doubt it but we’ll see. But I have to say—I do feel a bit better already.