I recently injured my biceps while unwittingly indulging my dog in his favorite activity—chasing cats. Lying flat on the ground with gravel embedded in the palms of my hands, in such pain that when MyHusbandTheEngineer found me and asked, first, “Where is the dog?” I couldn’t raise my arm to hurl the “diaper bag” at him. I replied, “I told him to go play in traffic.”
Since this was a sports injury of sorts, I called The Sports Health Clinic.
Receptionist: Oh, you again. Another “sports” injury?
Me: I need to see the doctor.
Receptionist: Have you gone online yet?
Me: Had to – you’re not in the phone book anymore.
Receptionist: Well, go back there and scroll down to “C: Ten things we do to avoid seeing you because you have an HMO.” If you pass 11 out of 10 (you get an extra point for the essay question), call me back.
Me: What if I’m willing to do “A: link to my retirement account and provide the password?” Can the doctor see me sooner?
Receptionist: No. We Snopes all applications. But you could do “B: Mail a blank, signed check to our office.”
I busy myself with “C,” then call her back.
Me: I got eight out of ten—I couldn’t honestly answer that my humerus bone is poking through the skin or that gangrene has set in, but trust me, he’ll want to see me—next year’s Lexus is already in the showroom.
Receptionist: Can you come in ten minutes?
Me: Be right there.
Receptionist: Bring a book, it’ll be a long wait.
I enter the reception room, which has been cleared of hazards such as comfortable chairs, alternative health magazines and other suffering patients I could commiserate with (due to the diligence of the receptionist, who is deflecting calls with mind-numbing speed; just watching her anesthetizes my arm). She recognizes me as the only caller able to jump through her hoops, and waves me into the exam room.
Duty Doctor: I see from your medical history this is not your first visit. You’ve had prior contusions all over your body. Please remove the sling, splint and bandage from your arm. (Visual aids—in case he needed convincing.)
“How did that happen?!” the doctor exclaimed.
Me: Louie did it.
Duty Doctor: I thought you said this was a sports injury.
Me: It was. Define “sports.”
Duty Doctor: Are you still seeing him?
Me: We live together. He didn’t mean to do it. It just happened.
Duty Doctor: You need to talk to someone about this.
Me: That’s why I’m here. Now can we do something about it?
Duty Doctor: Tell me about your relationship.
Me: What can I say? I’ve tried talking to him; it didn’t do any good. He’s still Louie. He’s abusive—passive at home, aggressive when we go out. Manipulative, too. If I don’t feed him gourmet meals he withholds love.
Duty Doctor: Was he responsible for your last three visits?
Me: Oh, those were just falls—he didn’t mean to drag me over the curb.
Duty Doctor: How long have you been in this relationship?
Me: Two years; since his last significant other tossed him out on his ear. He’s also very sloppy—leaves half-eaten food all over the house, lies around all day, no motivation.
Duty Doctor: You need a mental health professional; this is a case of pure domestic abuse.
Me: Not really. It never happens at home.
Duty Doctor: You know, the first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one.
Me: Fix Louie?! (That doctor just lost all credibility with me.) He’s already been fixed and it didn’t change anything. But since you mention it, I think I’ll go see the vet—fixing me may not be as big a stretch for him.
Footnote: To separate fact (50%) from fiction (50%), I actually have a PPO … for the reasons stated above.