McKeithan Column|My mission: Confirmation of self-diagnosis: STAT
Published 4:23 am Sunday, June 28, 2009
Ray McKeithanAssociate Publisher
A doctors worst nightmare
Ive spent a lot of time in hospitals, but seldom as a patient. I hope never to return.
Let me say from the get-go that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those in the medical field. I have seen, firsthand, the incredible healing of family and friends under the care of talented doctors and nurses. Im your biggest fan.
Unfortunately, theres another, less heroic side of the tale of the good doctor: The bad patient.
This is my story:
Im on constant alert. At the onset of any perceived symptom, I leap into action. Thats right; I Google it. I have an amazing ability to with one click of the mouse diagnose my disease or infirmity. Usually, its a very rare, terminal illness.
Then, Im off to the doctors office. I am not going to reveal who my doctor is (thank me later, Dr. Teixeira) because the following is a fictionalized account, based on real life experiences.
I dont view my frequent doctor visits casually; they become a multi-phase mission. Here is how a typical mission goes:
Front-desk person: May I help you?
Yes, I need to see Dr. Not-To-Be-Named (NTBN) immediately. My name is William Ray McKeithan. I am a male, and I filled out your forms last week when I was here for malaria. Heres a copy of my living will, my medical power of attorney and my safe deposit box key. I have prepared a complete family medical history dating back to 1865, listed my drug allergies and copied my insurance card and my college transcripts. You have all you need.
We dont have an appointment available until September.
Thats no good Ill be dead by then. I think that defeats the purpose.
Then I went there. I started shouting medical terms to get respect and to show everyone in the lobby that I meant business: This is a code purple, people! I shouted. I need to see the doctor, STAT … I may need to be quarantined!
I then calmly took a seat, knowing Id see the doctor soon.
First phase of mission: Complete.
Just three hours later, as I sat reading the October 87 edition of Southern Living, I was whisked back to triage.
Nurse: Lets hear it what is it this time, Ray?
I had a headache yesterday.
Any other complaints?
Yes, someone tore out the fried Moon Pie recipe from Southern Living.
No, I mean MEDICAL complaints!
Well, what are they?
Ill save it for the Doc, if thats OK with you Nurse Friendly.
Phase two of mission: Complete.
I had only waited two hours in the exam room when the doctor rushed in:
Doctor NTBN: Whats ailing you this time, Ray?
Any other pain?
Well, please describe it.
Was it a sharp pain or a dull pain?
No, I mean where on your body?
Enough of these games, Doc. Give it to me straight: How long do I have?
Well, I leave for lunch in five minutes.
I think you can see where this is going. He didnt come out and say it, but the doctor thinks Im a wimp. Hes probably right. I offer no apologies to true wimps who may be offended by these comments.
(I dont have to worry about them anyhow because THEYRE WIMPS.)
I left the doctors office empty-handed. Not one needless test was ordered. No unnecessary scans or biopsies occurred. No follow-up appointment was scheduled.
My symptom(s) miraculously disappeared and I returned home to delete The Bubonic Plague and You bookmark from my computer.
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. This column is a repeat because Ray has been preoccupied this week. Any negative comments about him or his writing can be sent directly to: email@example.com