Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are Your Parents Diseased?

The Sports Doc I was going to see was late for our appointment. A resident with a foreign accent greeted me.  He wanted to update my history.  “Are your parents diseased?” he asked. 
They catch colds now and then. They’ve both had surgery for problems. They’re fine now.

Again, he asked, “Are your parents diseased?”  At least that’s what I thought he said.  They’re 88 and 91, and they’re fine.

Then I replayed what he had said.  This time it came out, “Are your parents deceased?”
My parents are both alive and well.  

That satisfied him.

Trying to understand medical people is bad enough. Accents make it more complicated, but eventually we communicated.

Even weirder was the way in which the staff at the MRI center game me directions.

“Would you fill out these forms for me?”
“Would you sit here for me?”
“Would you put your jacket in this closet for me?”

Huh? Like these are favors? Like these are things the staffer could do if I wasn’t there to do it for him or her?

The forms are weird, too.

At the top of the form I was asked to put my name and the current date.

At the bottom of the form I was again asked to put my name and the current date. I asked the woman at the desk, “Is this form supposed to take so long to fill out that the date will have changed by the time I finish?”

The questions are grouped strangely, too.  I was on a roll: checking NO to everything. I don’t have a bunch of medical products that I’d never heard of before. I don’t have diabetes or high blood pressure. I don’t take any prescription drugs, over the counter drugs or street drugs. Suddenly the form asked “Are you over 60?”  I checked NO, and then asked for the white-out.

The bottle was hard to open.  Okay, I’ve got arthritis in my hands. Maybe the bottle would not have been hard for the young woman at the desk to open.  She saw me struggling and she did not offer to help.  I did what I do at home. I made sound effects.  “Squink, Squink.”  The bottle cap unscrewed.  The young woman looked at me oddly.  I explained that sound effects help stuck caps come lose. She continued to look at me oddly, so I gave up on explaining things to her.

When I finally got into the MRI machine, which I’d been dreading because last time I had to be in one it felt as if I’d been stuffed into a metal trash can and all the neighborhood kids were given metal hammers to pound on it for an hour.  This time was much better. It sounded like I was on the sidewalk beside the men who use the heavy machine to break up the asphalt. And the merciful technician gave me a short break after every 4 minute blast.  Unfortunately, she did not know how to count.  At one point she told me there would be only 3 more “pictures” but there were at least 6 more.

I’m still waiting for the results.  I hope they are explained in language I can understand and rely on.

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