Friday, February 02, 2007

Doctor, Doctor...

I‘ve been blessed with good health over the past few years and without realizing it, never built up a network of doctors after moving to New York in the fall of 2004. I also just realized that I never officially stopped seeing my pediatrician---I just kind of slowly stopped going----which makes me wonder if there is still some FBI-like folder containing my name, date of birth, and level of ticklishness filed at the Mt. Kisco Medical Center

Anyway, over the course of the past few weeks, a few minor problems (back, foot, back of my foot) have emerged, and this week, I found myself on mini-doctor tour seeing three different specialists over the course of a two day period (no interlocking sets, alas). While not as exciting as, say, seeing a concert in each of New York’s five boroughs (perhaps my true claim to fame) or managing to mangle two dates in a singe evening (consider that a coming attraction for my next blog), seeing three unrelated doctors in the same week has shed some light on the state of the American Medical Association.

First off, I love how society rephrases the simple act of “going to the doctor’s office” to fit life’s various stages. When I got sick in elementary-school I was sent to the nurse’s office (as opposed to the principal’s office), when I got food poisoning at camp I spent time at the infirmary (as opposed to a military-like bunk), and when I fell ill in college I scheduled an appointment with health services (as opposed to food or, err, custodial services). And, now, finally, I am old enough to see a “specialist,” whose specialty seems to be figuring out creative ways to make me feel guilty about siding with the Evil Empire (aka the insurance companies).

Second, with each passing day I’ve come to realize that, as President Lincoln surely said, “alloffices are created equally dysfunctional,” and I’m not sure if its comforting or alarming that my health is being determined by an team of neoteric, coffee-drinking New Yorkers who spend their days surfing MySpace.

Lastly, I’ve decided that you can tell a lot about a doctor by simply sitting in his or her waiting room: the furniture, the wall decorations, and especially the magazines. Thankfully, I’ve yet to find a doctor who subscribes to Relix (indeed, I never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member or more accurately see a doctor who’d want to read what I have to say.)

You can also tell pretty quickly when you are hopelessly out of place as I learned at my first appointment. The first doctor I visited was a nice, accomplished, woman on the Upper East Side (aka Siberia) who was associated with my uncle’s hospital. After weighing the pros-and-cons of seeing a woman doctor, I decided that I’d rather have my mom tell me I was about to die then just about anyone else, and I scheduled an appointment. After sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes, flipping through copies of Redbook and scanning a few fact-packed flyers about menopause, I decided separate but equal is fine when it comes to doctor gender and got the hell out of there before some nurse tricked me into signing up for a pap test.

The second doctor I visited was more up my alley, a balding, 50-something Jewish guy who seems to have majored in podiatry, minored is twenty-something psychology, and failed standup comedy (though he seemed most interested in showing off his skills in the latter category). The meat of my appointment was divided into two acts: the first focusing on my toe, the second on my last name, which he acutely pointed out is more fun when pronounced The Greenhaus Effect (come to think of it he has a lot in common with my fourth grade class). Thankfully, after fifteen minutes of environmental riffing he returned to my toe, which he diagnosed as so gross, “it will impede me from getting girls into bed.” He then gave me some magic nail-polish remover, which he promised, like Mr. Clean, would make my toenail so shinny it would pull those same girls back from across the room no matter what type of shoes I have on (who says podiatrists don’t saved lives)!

My third doctor was clearly the most qualified to deal with my problems. Not only has he earned enough awards to wallpaper his entire office, but he managed to solve my medical condition without even inspecting my body! Upon entering the room he gave me a once over, realized I had ten fingers, two feet, and a low self-esteem and diagnosed my back condition before asking my problem. “You sit hunched over at a desk all day and it is hurting your back,” he declared from across the room. “But I’ve been sitting at a desk for 21 years and never pulled a muscle before,” I lobbied. “You also have never been 25 before,” he shot back.

Game point. Indeed, it took six hours, three doctors, and a seemingly infinite amount of insurance paper to determine that I am a 25-year old Jewish male named Mike Geenhaus, who works at a magazine and spends a good amount of time hunched over a computer.

Come to think of it, maybe more doctors should spend time surfing MySpace.

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