The doctor will see you now

Recently I went for my annual physical and was pronounced in reasonably good health, despite having a body that looks like it belongs on an autopsy table.

Be that as it may, I'm thinking about shopping around for another physician because of lingering questions about the quality of treatment my present doctor provides.


To be honest, I'm not even sure he went to medical school.

Oh, he says he went to med school. But they all say that. I used to say it myself back in college to impress women.


We'd be hanging out in some bar and one of my buddies would ask if I wanted another beer, and I'd say in a loud voice: "Gee, I don't know. I've got that kinesiology class first thing in the morning."

It got a few nibbles, especially from women who wore very thick glasses, although the majority tended to move to the other side of the bar.

The thing is, I don't see any diplomas lining the walls of my doctor's office.

Instead, a huge picture of those poker-playing dogs dominates one of the walls.

On the other wall is a velvet Elvis painting and an inspirational poster that says: "Let's put an end to frivolous lawsuits!"

So I don't know. It doesn't give you a very reassuring feeling, that's for sure.

The other thing that can be a bit unsettling is that, instead of wearing a white coat, my doctor wears a Nike sweat suit.

Oh, he says he has a white coat. But they all say that. I used to say it myself back in college. In fact, there was a point during my junior year where I actually took to wearing a white coat around campus.


It got a few nibbles -- mostly from women who were shallow, lonely and desperate. Which were the only kind of women I was interested in.

Anyway, I arrived for my physical promptly at 11 a.m. and reported to the receptionist, Miss Stoneface, who barely glanced up from her crossword puzzle.

Apparently there is a law in the state of Maryland requiring physicians to hire only the most surly and irritable people as receptionists.

Sliding open the little window to her glass-enclosed booth, she tossed a clipboard onto the ledge, indicating I should sign in.

"The doctor will see you soon," she said with a straight face.

So I took a seat and settled in with the requisite two-year-old copy of People and a riveting profile of Barbara Mandrell.


It was tough to concentrate, though, because all around me other patients were wheezing, sneezing, coughing, moaning and crying out in pain. A couple of times I had to ask the feverish young man next to me to please quiet down -- he kept passing out and banging his head against the magazine rack.

I don't know how long I waited. Morning drifted into afternoon. Finally, just as I was nodding off, a nurse came out and led me to an examining room.

"The doctor will be right with you," she said with a straight face.

Then she closed the door and I was left to stare at a container of tongue depressors.

This is something I could never understand. Why do they drag you out of the waiting room if the doctor isn't ready to see you? At least there's something to do in the waiting room.

Even if you get tired of reading, there's always a chance that one of the seriously ill patients could collapse and cause a little excitement.


Anyway, 10 minutes went by. Fifteen minutes went by. Finally after 20 minutes the doctor came in.

"How've you been feeling?' he asked.

"Well, I was feeling terrific," I said. "Now I'm kind of drowsy -- although that's probably from staring at the tongue depressors for so long."

With that, the examination got under way and he started poking and prodding me.

At one point, he suddenly whirled around and said: "You like Chinese food?"

When I said yes, he nodded and said: "I think the Bills are going to the Super Bowl again."


So he's not much of a conversationalist, is what I'm saying. Finally we were all done. After I got dressed, we went back to his office and I stared at the picture of the poker-playing dogs while he wrote something in my file.

As for my actual condition, well, he was a little vague. He said he thinks I'm OK.

Then again, he said, none of us has any guarantees in this life. Who among us knows what kind of raging illness or dreadful disease is infiltrating our bodies at this very moment?

I'm wondering if I should get a second opinion.