by Michelle Waters
My kind-hearted, friendly old doctor retired, like so many have recently, which is the reason why, earlier this week, I was sitting in the examination room waiting to meet yet another new specialist. Because this doctor recently joined the practice, I googled her to find out what I could before meeting with her. I probably should not have read the reviews before going to the new doctor because once I arrived at the clinic, I kept thinking about- those written comments. “Dr. M is a great doctor!” “Dr. M has a lousy bedside manner.” “I am glad I went to Dr. M. She knows her stuff.” “This doctor should definitely work on her bedside manner.” “I appreciate all the help I received and hate that Dr. M is moving away.” “If you are looking for empathy, look elsewhere.”
Mostly, it was women who complained about the doctor’s lack of warmth. The men seemed pleased enough with the treatment they received, and I understood why after I saw her photograph. Were the women truly unhappy with the physician’s manner, or were they just being pissy because the young doctor was rather lovely. I hoped that jealousy caused the bad reviews and that Dr. M would offer a new approach to my issue at hand. For me, there’s something a bit unnerving about those ten or fifteen minutes alone in the examination room, that time between the nurse charting the particulars of body weight, temperature, and blood pressure, and the time the doctor taps on the door.
To keep myself from stewing over the reviews regarding the doctor’s personality vs competency, I checked out the room. Nothing out of the ordinary, considering the medical practice of this office. The room looked very much like any other exam room. In the corner, installed behind the door, there stood the greenish gray, vinyl and paper-covered examination table. Two narrow side chairs had been placed next to the counter with the miniscule sink. Of course, a swivel stool, of the same greenish gray vinyl, sat nearby, and a few outdated men’s magazines (cars and body-building) were housed in the familiar clear, plastic wall pocket attached to the door.
Curiously, there were no magazines of women’s interest. There were, however, for the patient’s enjoyment the expected assortment of anatomy- related posters on the wall. Four posters altogether: two illustrating the cross section of the urinary system- one a side view, the other full frontal, gender neutral, uniformly labeled. Then there was the highly colorful, psychedelic-like drawing of two kidneys. The fourth poster depicted a well-endowed fellow with an enlarged prostate gland.
The focal point of the room, however, was the window overlooking the south parking lot and facing the hospital complex across the street below, and that’s where I stood waiting and watching the lunch-hour traffic whiz back and forth. She arrived with a brusque hello. No door tap. No hand shake. No eye-contact. No self-introduction. Immediately, the divine Dr. M, sat upon her greenish gray stool, swiveled around to the counter, opened her laptop, and in a totally no-nonsense, business-only voice read aloud the symptoms of my condition as I had given them to the nurse a quarter hour earlier. “Is that correct?” she asked. I responded, “Yes.”
That was the one and only question she asked of me. Apparently, Dr. M had looked over my chart and lab work before entering the room and had already determined that her predecessor’s treatment plan was outdated and not helpful for my state of being. She instructed me to position myself upon the examination table, and while she took a look, I studied the well-hung poster of the enlarged prostate. In less than 15 minutes, Dr. M had poked and probed and evaluated my condition, handed me a flyer outlining our course of action, faxed a new prescription to my pharmacy, and ordered me to return in 30 days. Rising to make her exit, she then looked me in the eye, held out her hand for me to shake, and assured me that we had several options available, if needed. She ushered me to the hallway, pointed to the exit sign, and vanished in the opposite direction with a curt good day. And that, was that. This morning, while checking my email, I noticed a request from Dr. M’s office. They asked one question. Did Dr. M meet my expectations? What more could I possibly say other than, “Yes.”