Then, just as you are fully engrossed in learning about the prospects for the Mets in the coming 2002 season, a nurse flings open an unmarked door, bellows your name and briskly leads you to a very public hallway scale where you are weighed, despite the fact that you are fully clothed, are carrying a coat and toting either a purse or a laptop; nurse clucking and scowling ensue. Then, you are taken to a small, chilly room, your blood pressure taken (more clucking and scowling) asked to disrobe, don a paper gown, not to be confused with anything Halston would design, and told, “The doctor will be right in”. This is the medical equivalent of the phrase, “Of course I will respect you in the morning.”
You spend enough time alone in this chilly room, in your non-insulated paper gown to discover and read more not-too-recently issued magazines–usually vintage 2003 to 2006 — and to have various parts of your body react to the chill; depending on your gender, either perkiness or shrinkage.
Then, just as you are absorbed in an investigative Newsweek report about Dick Cheney accidentally shooting a fellow quail hunter in the face, the doctor comes in, looking confident but somewhat harried. There is brief small talk, a question or two, a quick look down your throat and into your ears and tah-dah, you’re done. “What, what, wait; I forgot to ask about that burning sensation when I pee.” Too late. You peek out the door, one way then the other, clutching the paper gown so as to keep your dignity, but the doctor is gone and, in that gown, there never was any dignity.
The nurse returns and tells you that the burning sensation is “very common in people your age” and to try “cutting out spicy food.” The total time at the doctor’s office, two hours and twenty minutes; portion of that time with the doctor, twelve minutes.
One critical way to change aging for the better is to radically alter the way in which doctors are compensated so that your visit is a real doctor-patient interaction, not an assembly-line model of efficiency. And besides, I already know how the Mets did in 2002.