A few days ago, I paid a visit to my doctor. To be literally correct, I didn’t pay for the visit—Medicare did. I see my general practitioner every few months, and this was simply a routine check-up, not much different from bringing in your car every so many miles.

Nothing was particularly bothering me, but I wanted to get my money’s worth (or Medicare’s money), so when the doctor asked me whether I had any questions, I came prepared.

“Doctor, my veins are becoming more visible. What is that about?”

The doctor seemed mildly amused.

“That is what happens when you get older,” he explained. “Look at my arm,” he continued, and there were his veins, looking as unattractive on his arm as my veins looked on mine. There was nothing remotely comforting by what the doctor was telling me. I wanted some kind of magic lotion to make my veins return to where they had been hiding my entire life.

I asked the doctor another question, “My weight has remained the same for the past several years, so why does my stomach look larger?” Again, my doctor seemed amused, and I cannot begin to tell you how gratifying it was to know I was providing him with entertainment.

“My wife has the same problem,” he explained. “You shrink and your stomach gets bigger. That is what happens when you get older.” Again, with the “getting older” routine. Pretty soon, he was going to explain to me that I will eventually die because that is what happens when you get older. 

I had entered his office of sound body and mind, but was going to leave with sound body and a troubled mind. Because of my doctor, I was now sorely in need of a psychiatrist who could treat me for depression. 

I was convinced things could not get worse but, of course, they did. As the doctor left the examination room, he said, “See you in a few months, Paul.” Had I heard correctly? I think he just called me “Paul.” I have a friend Paul Grisanti, who lives in Malibu, and a brother-in-law Paul, who lives in New Jersey with his wife Debbie. Then there was Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary, and, of course, Paul, who sent a letter to the Corinthians, but I am not a Paul and never have been.

So, what can I possibly say about a doctor who calls me, his patient, “Paul”? I guess you could say that is what happens when your doctor gets older. 

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