In the Office of Dr. Bizarre
I should have known he'd be a strange bird when I called to make the appointment. My dear friend, Marcie, had recommended him, but warned me that he was very popular, and that even she, an established patient, had had to wait quite some time for an appointment recently.
"Hello, I'm hoping to get an appointment with Dr. B. I'm a new patient."
"What will you be seeing him for?"
The list of symptoms is too long, and I'm hoarse, and I'm near tears, as I often am these days. Deep breath. "I've been very sick for a long time and no one knows what's wrong with me."
"Dr. B. can see you at 9:00 next Wednesday."
"Wednesday? Five days from now?"
"Yes. What is your name?"
Had this doctor actually given his office staff instructions to be kind to people? Sick people? And to use some judgment as to who would be seen when, based on how desperate they seemed to be? And I didn't leave out the part where she asked about what kind of insurance I have. She did not ask. I should have known then that the guy was a weirdo.
When I arrived, the front desk people were friendly. I waited about 15 minutes, and then Dr. B. himself came out to get me. He didn't put me in a holding cell. He brought me into his office, and took my thick stack of lab and radiology reports.
"It's a long story; I'll try to give you the short version..."
"Tell me whatever you need to tell me."
So I did. And he listened. And during the next half hour that he spent with me, he took about 12 phone calls. Actually answered them while I sat in the chair in his office, or lay on the table in the exam room. At first this was disconcerting to me. And if it had been anyone else, it would have pissed me off. But it didn't. This was clearly just one of the quirks that make him him. Obviously, his staff has no concept of "holding" calls. If someone asked for him, they got him. And each person who called was spoken to with kindness, thoughtfulness, clarity. "No, dear, we're not going to talk about dementia, now. We're going to get your B-12 levels up, and you'll be just fine. Don't be frightened, this will work, you'll see." I could almost guess the age, the gender, the severity of illness, by the tone of his voice. And I wasn't perturbed by the interruptions because I knew that he would take my calls, too.
In my work, if one of my clients is under a doctor's care -- a psychiatrist, a neurologist, whatever -- I will, more often than not, get consent from that client to speak to the other caregivers involved. It simply makes sense to me, as one member of a team trying to help improve the quality of someone's life, to communicate with the other people who presumably have the same goal. So many, many times since I've been on this long, strange medical trip, I have said to Jif, "I wish Dr. McC would talk to Gastroboy. . . This would be so much simpler if Dr. S. would just call Dr. McC . . . Apparently radiologists are like the Wizard of Oz, and NO ONE is allowed to approach them . . ."
So imagine my surprise when this bizarre Dr. B. says to me, "Do you have a good gastroenterologist? Would you like for me to talk to him?" I think he was trying to kill me right there, saying such a thing.
And if I had any doubts that he was trying to make me stroke out on the spot, do you know what he said to me as we were ready to say goodbye? He said, "Here is my email address. I don't want you to ever be unable to reach me. You've been too sick for too long, and I know you must be frustrated."
I think he's an alien.
My friend told me that he has the reputation of being a "brilliant diagnostician." I don't know yet. He has a theory, and he's started treating me for his theory. And he listened to my theory, and told me it makes sense, and gave me the test orders to check that out, too.
I don't know if he's going to diagnose me and/or cure me. I do know that for the first time in months, I left a doctor's office feeling hopeful. Thank you, Dr. Bizarre. The world needs more docs as crazy as you.
file under: &Partial Nudity &Can't Make This Stuff Up