THE LONG VIEW: Doctor’s reassurance is a healthy sign

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Regarding healthcare, it is more common to hear horror stories than good things, which makes sense. It is news when a patient has the wrong body part operated on; it is not when surgery goes as planned.

I have been lucky and healthy enough to avoid much contact with medical professionals. So I approached with some excitement a rendezvous at my doctor's office for a long overdue physical.

Not having been there in years, the front office staff did not know me from Adam. They did, however, put on their professional faces and put up with my nonsense admirably. 

Regarding healthcare, it is more common to hear horror stories than good things, which makes sense. It is news when a patient has the wrong body part operated on; it is not when surgery goes as planned.

I have been lucky and healthy enough to avoid much contact with medical professionals. So I approached with some excitement a rendezvous at my doctor's office for a long overdue physical.

Not having been there in years, the front office staff did not know me from Adam. They did, however, put on their professional faces and put up with my nonsense admirably. 

Yes, I filled out all of the necessary paperwork they handed me, but not without repeatedly suggesting the forms were too numerous, too long, and poorly written. In updating my phone number, address, and marital status, they suffered through tiresome, vague stories that eventually gave them the requested information.

Nurse Linda escorted me from the lobby, pausing to collect data on my height and weight. She, too, showed admirable restraint when I loudly asserted the scale was lying. Once in the exam room, she took my blood pressure and went through a litany of questions, many of which I had just answered on paper up front.

But I understand. Their business requires an awful lot of blanks to be filled, all the better to satisfy requirements imposed by insurance companies as well as state and federal governments. They don't like asking me a question more than once any more than I like answering it. Despite my reluctance to give simple, straight responses, Nurse Linda and I got through this ordeal together.

Then came the time to wait. Waiting is simply the nature of the business; a medical practice’s staff tries to stay on time as best they can, but patients present extra, unexpected issues daily, so doctors and nurses are always running a bit behind. And this time allows a patient like me the chance to brood.

Why is this taking so long?  Why does everything connected with medicine cost so much? Why won’t these people to call me “Pat” as I have repeatedly stated is my preference?

But then my doctor comes in the room. He smiles and shakes my hand. He seems completely calm, unhurried, and more than willing to listen to me, no matter how many words come babbling from my mouth.

He moves gracefully around the exam table, verbally checking off the items from my e-mailed list to him while inspecting areas of my aging body.

My doctor reassures me about every worry on that list. We discuss making good food choices “at our age,” as well as the importance of staying active. He says nothing about the scale’s treachery.

There are many hassles associated with healthcare in America, but I have to consider myself fortunate. They are in an unfamiliar place, where numbers identify me to the practice and the insurance company, my doctor made me feel like a real person, and that made me feel better. 

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com