Laurie and I were going down the checklist of paperwork that has to be completed prior to the home study and we got to the part where we have to undergo a physical and have our doctor submit a health report. We’ve moved twice since Vivi’s birth but have yet to find a new doctor. Typically, Laurie leaves things like this to me, which is why she drives an hour and a half to her doctor and why I haven’t been checked out in over three years. But since this stood between us and the next step in the process, Laurie hopped online, found the closest doctor, and booked an appointment for both us – mine the next day and hers the following week.
In hindsight, I’m glad she booked mine as quickly as she did as it gave me less time to fret and worry. I don’t like going to the doctor. In fact, hate is too strong a word, so I’ll say I experience great feats of anxiety toward anything medical - doctor's offices, hospitals, even the first aid kit in our bathroom has a smell that reminds me of pain and suffering. I’ll spend the days leading up to an appointment worrying where I’m going to get poked and prodded. But since Laurie called me at work to tell me about my appointment, I didn’t start worrying until after the nurse led me to a private room, asked me some questions, said, “The doctor will be with you in a moment,” and left me alone with my thoughts.
The doctor’s office ran like clockwork. I never waited for more than a few minutes for anyone or anything. Everyone in the office behaved professionally, especially the doctor, who, even when I had to turn my head and cough, had a very discreet bedside manner. Thus, it shocked me when he called the next day and made one of the most inappropriate jokes I’ve ever heard.
One of the forms I filled out while at the office was a release for the doctor to post the results of my bloodwork on their website. I mentioned this to Laurie. So when the doctor himself called the house the next day, she panicked and called me at work. “I’ve never had the doctor himself call. Why would he call if everything was fine?”
I told her I didn’t know but that I would call him and let her know. The doctor and I played phone tag for a couple of hours, hours Laurie spent calling and texting me, “What did he say?”
Ultimately, the doctor left a voice mail on my cell phone directing me how to check my results on the website. Everything turned out fine and I called Laurie. Only a minute after I hung up with her, the doctor called my cell. “We have the results from your bloodwork,” he said, “And I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
I paused, wondering if they had made a mistake and posted someone else’s results online. Then the doctor said, “I’m just kidding. Everything’s fine.”
I thought about all the times I’d told that joke. I forgot to buy you a birthday present. I ate all the ice cream. For the most part, the joke might have been highly annoying, but it was harmless, certainly never told under the context that someone's very life might hinge on it. I might have been angry had it not been the exact joke I would have told had I become a doctor, which is why I never became a doctor...well, that among other reasons.
Looking back on the doctor’s phone call, I wish I’d though fast enough to turn the joke back on him. I could have faked a heart attack or gone off about how devastated my wife and kids would be. "Oh God, I just don't think they can take anymore bad news this year." Anything would have been better than responding, “You’re funny,” and then calling Laurie and telling her that I’d find my own doctor next year.