Thirteen Doctors

“FYI, you’re the fourth doctor I’ve asked for this prescription,”  I say. 


“Who else have you asked?”  Dr. Silver says, as though he would know any of them.


“Well, among others, my Uro-Gynecologist.”


“Well, she should be the one to prescribe these, right?”


“Right, but she said …I don’t know what she said, her logic was circular.  I don’t think she was entirely unfamiliar with them.  But she said no.”


“But she could have spent five minutes researching it and done it.”


“Yeah.”  I wait for him to spend five minutes researching and pull out his prescription pad.  He pulls out a pen.  I am hopeful. 


“Now, where is it you’re going?  You know, the airlines are getting pissed off.  People are saving money by – now what was it?” 


He uses the pen to start drawing on the examination table’s paper lining.  “People are buying plane tickets to, say, Seattle -”  he writes “Seattle” and draws a line from generally East to Seattle.  “Then, they go to L.A..”  He makes a dot for L.A., and draws a line to it.


He scrunches up his forehead.  “No, that’s wrong. “  He scratches out his drawing with his pen.  “They buy a ticket to Seattle, no, L.A.”  The pen has a mind of its own now, I may have to scoot over soon to make room for his meandering mind.


On the Upper East Side, this office is about an hour from I live.  And I think the minimum I’ve waited to see the pain specialist here is 90 minutes.  I know I have fifteen minutes, max, with this doctor.  I feel time slipping away like floating spaghetti noodles through a fork.


“Oh, yeah”  He’s finally grasped his concept, much happier now.  “They SAY they’re going to L.A.”  he circles L.A., which he’s come to for about the fifth time, “but they get off in Seattle – pack a day pack, that’s it – and they get a better deal!”


I’ve got to find a way to get control of this conversation.  I figure ADHD doc needs visual stimulus, so I hand him copies of my most recent MRI reports.  “Here,”  I apologize.  “I tried to send these via email, but your front desk says the systems are down, so I had to waste paper.”


“Down?”  He seems puzzled.  “Oh, yeah that’s by design.  I hate technology.  You know, my wife just called the front desk to tell me she texted me three times.  Three times!  And what am I supposed to do?  Not see patients? “  He gestures to me.  I’m thinking he could probably use time with patients more efficiently by talking  less about airline tactics, but as the patient it may seem ungrateful to mention it.


“I mean, and you know, more and more people are coming to me with, like, a disk, and they hand me this disk and I say, am I supposed to go in the back, where it will take me twenty minutes to even see anything…”


“I almost brought you the disks.  I’m glad I didn’t.  I’ll stick with just the reports.”


“You know at NYU they’re giving these, um, reports, with like, just a few photos…let me go find one.”  He swishes out of the room like so many leaves under the force of a determined broom, and he is gone.


This is how I spend my time.  This is number 11 of thirteen, I remind myself.  Thirteen health practitioner appointments in twelve days.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Breathe deeply.  Keep expectations low and you will not be disappointed.


He swooshes back into the room.  Really I feel sorry for this guy.  This man, who is still seeing patients at 6:30pm, whose wife is also competing for his attention, which is divided into so many slices they are but pinpricks on a canvas.  If they form a coherent image he is not aware of it.  He struggles to keep up with demands, and this fractured, scattered brain is his coping mechanism.


“Here,” he brandishes the film proudly.  “I keep the X-ray light on the wall, you know, to keep my older patients comfortable.  You know how doctor offices used to smell?  Like ethyl alchohol?  Or wait, no methyl alchohol…maybe you’re too young, do you remember?”


Two more, I think.  And then I plot my escape.

For older posts, see the old blog at:







Photos by Emory Collinson        © Niki Naeve 2015