The door jingle had summoned no one, though the diminutive nature of the practice meant that I could see people chatting down the hall. I stood at the vacant counter for a good six minutes or more, feeling rather shocked. I had an appointment, right? So why was there no one there to greet me? Never before had I realized just how good the service was back in Dr. Royal's Soy Capital practice, nor had I ever been aware of how up to date his bland decor actually was. As I mentally compared the two filing cabinets on the floor before me with the floor-to-ceiling shelves the old family doctor had come to use, it occurred to me that good Dr. Royal had, in fact, done pretty well for himself.
I raised my voice and called out a few times, but to no avail. One of the folks down the corridor leaned over slightly and then settled back. At long last, a kind but disturbingly batty old nurse arrived, muttering something about how she had torn her smock and only had safety pins to put it back together. Her scrubs were very thin and the colors had faded, for they had been worn and washed one too many times. Her attire was a cue of sorts to her main occupation in the office, which was "prepping" patients by taking their blood pressure and noting their weight on an archaic, rusty scale.
Her conversation was disjointed to me, somehow rather off. For example, when she saw that I was wearing khakis with cargo pockets, she launched into a story about how she liked to put doggy treats in those, but she always forgot about them being there when she did laundry. To be sure, I have unwittingly washed small articles before, but ... I really did not know what to say.
She was one of a platinum blonde pair, so I must also describe her taller counterpart, the one who seemed to have "it" a bit more together. She was clad in a fuschia stretch velvet track suit with black lace accenting, which she paired with black flats of a mysterious woven material. This one was definitely the alpha female, and was responsible for making sure money came through and necessary forms were signed. The payment was strictly cash or check, though where the bills went once they passed through her hands, I had little clue.
It is likely that they, along with the good doctor himself, were there when this practice first began in the sixties, and it was clear little else had changed since.
I was guided from one small room to another, each seemed to say that they had started here long ago, and they liked it quite well, or had little inclination to ever expand. Papers of all sorts were piled on every available surface. Old phones from the eighties rested on tiny tables next to lists of medications. Surely I had stepped into some sort of reality rip and had transcended into a new Twilight Zone, for this had gone beyond "quaint" to simply "ancient."
I had known the doctor was getting on in years, much like Dr. Royal from Soy Capital. I had been expecting someone like the trim, sweater-clad Dr. Royal, who always gave the impression that although he had worked many long decades and would soon retire, he could work several decades more, make no mistake! The stooped, withered figure that stood before me now was thus a surprise. I wondered if he intended to die in the office where he had spent his entire professional life. I could not tear my eyes away from his nails, which were as long as mine in spots, and very unevenly trimmed. I realized that he did not seem to be wearing any sort of undershirt beneath his zipped white pseudo-coat.
I possessed a mental checklist of things I wanted to cover, though we came from two such vastly different perspectives, I am not sure how well I managed to communicate my points. He did not seem to understand my perspective on dealing with daily discomfort, but he did realize that I was not going to take pain killers every day, and did not press the issue. Since Ollier's is a rare condition, I was not expecting him to know of it or be able to really grok the consequences of it.
When we got to the subject of my terrible cramps and PMSing, he wanted to give me pain killers for that, too. I put my foot down. No, I wanted birth control pills, please. I did not want to react and mask agony with drugs, I wanted to act to prevent the two day torture from ever occurring. He agreed and signed a prescription with refills. He was surprisingly liberal on that, given his age. He asked me if my insurance would cover them, and then launched into a brief rant on how "they make countless of these pills, and some insurance companies won't even pay for them. It's shameful, absolutely shameful."
The biggest issue was, of course, depression. I had a vague idea in my mind of obtaining a referral to some sort of mental health provider in order to get a detailed evaluation, but what I walked away with was a couple trial packages of a different medication. I have always been rather taciturn on the subject with most people, and once again I found it surprisingly difficult to communicate the scope of the problem. It sometimes feels that one must be weepy and mope while one describes the symptoms of depression in order to have the low taken seriously. How well can I explain "living is an insult" or how I sometimes found myself incapacitated by my own misery? How can these matters come across when my voice is brisk and my smile in action? The message and the vehicle seem to be at odds.
To be sure, it did not help that while he sat not a foot from me in that crowded office, he interrupted my attempts by accepting a call from a friend and arranging a bowling night. Once I finish getting the bloodwork results and prescriptions with at least two or three refills out of him, I am looking for another doctor ... a practice that is a little more connected to the digital age. I do not feel comfortable seeking treatment in a place where the receptionist has to ask around the office for my change.
But in good news, my blood pressure is approximately 100/70, and I only weigh a bit more than what I vaguely remembered! I could use muscle tone, but I do not think my weight is bad at all. I will not write the number here, however ... they say a true lady never reveals all her secrets!