I don’t think I’ve ever called a doctor’s office and been able to actually SPEAK with a live person, much less a doctor. (I’m not counting the bazillion times I’ve dialed Lew to confirm that my headache/stuffy nose/cramp/itch was not Ebola and that death — or even worse, barfage — was not imminent.) This is particularly aggravating and unsettling when it’s the doctor who called YOU in the first place and you’re trying to find out why.
Earlier today, the office of my trusted internist, Dr. O, left a message saying that I needed to get in touch at my convenience. While the receptionist did say it was not an urgent matter, there was no question — in my opinion — that there was pity and alarm in her tone. It was pretty clear to me she knew I had something bad and just didn’t want to scare me. Now, I haven’t seen Dr. O in more than a year, so the possibilities were somewhat limited. I might very well have Ebola, but given the speed at which that particular filovirus kills its prey, I was reasonably sure I’d caught it more recently than last summer. It was probably more like one of those slow-moving parasites or Guinea worms that just set up camp in your body, eventually bursting out through a blister on your ankle and and needing to be removed one inch at a time. Blech!
Prepping for the bad news, I knew I’d be a medical mystery. I could hear the “Dateline” teaser: It’s a disease that afflicts sub-Saharan Africans with no access to clean water. So how did this Manhattan woman end up with a 76-foot tropical worm in her foot? Friday at 10.”
Alright. So I had a 76-foot worm living in my intestines for the past year. No biggie. I’ve heard worse. It actually explained a lot.
Unfortunately, I tried three times this afternoon to get in touch with Dr. O’s office so I could hear this diagnosis. All three times, I got the same recording telling me it was either during lunch (it wasn’t) or the office was closed (presumably). There wasn’t even a “leave a message” option, unless this was a medical emergency. Bravely, I chose not to classify my worm as an emergency.
So of course, I sent an email to Lew, asking him how worried I should be.
“Not at all. It’s probably just a reminder to schedule your annual physical.”
Hmm. Hadn’t thought of that.
Suddenly I knew exactly how the conversation with Dr. O’s office would go.
Me, in concerned tone: Yes, this is me. I’m returning your call.
Office Person, in sympathetic voice: Oh hi. Thanks for calling. Look, we are REAAAAAAAAAALLY sorry about this … but it seems there was a mistake with your blood work the last time you were here. And as it turns out you ARE crazy.