I went to the doctor with the unassailable conviction that I was getting capital-S Sick. Not just the kind of sick that I might have used in high school to convince my mom I couldn’t go to school, no, Sick for Real.
I avoided the terrible magazine selection (mostly periodicals called things like Parents Health Thinks) by shrewdly bringing my Kindle with me. Mwah ha ha. Mindy Kaling's new book for the win! Then, it was just being told to pee in a cup, worrying I hadn’t drunk enough water for that, successfully peeing in a cup (girls get extra credit for this), and sitting around in the doctor’s office. It wasn’t my usual doctor, a nice lady with a last name that sounds like a soda who seemed to appreciate that despite looking like a 17-year-old, I was a Serious Career Woman with Plans and the Need to Feel Better.
No, Dr. Squirt was on vacation and so I was seeing a doctor who was a man. Hm. That’s okay, I mused, my childhood pediatrician was a man and also was THE man, insofar as when I got a concussion at a stupid concert my senior year of high school, he told my mom it was great that I was so independent. Awesome doctor.
This doctor could be awesome, I guessed. I listed my symptoms for him, discussing three separate problems since I was already in there anyway, and concluded jocularly that I was pretty much about to die given all of that.
He looked at me with a wise, doctoral look (none of my friends in med school do this yet, so I assume you learn it during residency) and said, “You’re 25. It’ll get a lot worse.”
Shocked and concerned he might think I was ungrateful for my generally excellent health, I sputtered that I knew, that I was joking. Then I realized that perhaps this was not the kind of doctor who appreciated a delightful young woman appearing in his office to make brave jokes despite her illness. He might not have approved of how getting a concussion in a mosh pit showed independence. He didn’t even ask me if I had a job! He definitely did not appreciate my Serious Careeritude. What he DID do was hand me a paper gown, tell me to put it on, and say he’d be back in a minute.
I put the stupid gown on. He came back. As he proceeded to squash my abdomen (why do doctors always do this to me? What is this even testing for? MY ORGANS ARE STILL THERE, THANK YOU), my mental processes continued as follows:
- Consider making a joke about how one too rarely gets the opportunity to wear an enormous paper towel. Reject idea.
- Consider joke about breeziness of afore-mentioned paper gown. Reject as creepy.
- Return to paper towel joke, this time considering whether it would be funnier with something about me using the paper towel to clean my kitchen counters
At this point, I realized that I might have been staring and failing to respond to questions. The doctor eventually diagnosed me and sent a prescription to the pharmacy, where I spent the next half hour alternating between reading my Kindle and staring balefully at the pharmacy assistant while subtly twitching in the hope she would sympathize with my illness-induced discomfort. It worked---she finished faster than she’d promised. God bless her, because I didn’t think I could be mature for more than 15 minutes more. I had used up all of my maturity at the doctor.