A week later, the building still looked like a hospital after visiting hours. I could get used to the ease of parking, but the unkempt landscape and vacant information gave me an uneasy feeling. It’s no big deal; this is my last visit to this doctor.
As I opened the door to Room 305, I thought of my grandmother’s coat closet again. This time the waiting room was empty, adding to my already uneasy feeling. Karen sat behind the front desk.
“Hello, Ms. Crocco, how are you today?”
“Fine, thank you.”
“The doctor will be with you in a moment, will you sign in please?”
I signed in and browsed the magazines on the end table. I picked up Time and sat down. I didn’t feel like reading, so I just browsed the ads.
“Ms. Crocco, the doctor will see you now.”
I followed Karen into a different room. “This is Doctor Sachs’s office, please have a seat.”
“Okay, thank you, Karen.”
The walls were bare except for a lonely framed medical degree. I stood up to read it when the doctor entered the room. He swiveled his leather chair around and sat down, “Well Ms. Crocco, everything seems fine. If you were bleeding, I would do a biopsy, but you aren’t, so I won’t.”
What word did he just say? “What does that mean doctor?” I asked, confused.
“Do you want the same oral contraceptive renewed?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling rushed.
The doctor handed me a new prescription. He got up from his chair and left the room.
I didn’t expect a change in his manners, but left his office with another uneasy feeling.
Karen appeared as though she’d been waiting outside the room. Familiar with the routine I handed her another twenty dollar bill and waited for my handwritten receipt.
New doctor next year.
September 2, 2003
By this date, my knee pain got worse. The insurance company said I needed to choose a primary doctor. This was new to me. Until now, the extent of my doctor visits was my annual exam by a gynecologist. I pulled out the physician directory, blew off the dust, and looked for a doctor located nearby.
“Any time after 3:00 p.m. would be fine… Yes, I’ll hold… Yes, my left knee, next Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.? That would be fine… Yes, I will bring my insurance card and I.D…. May 7, 1954. Thank you… you too.”
September 9, 2003
The parking lot was packed, so much for the ease of parking. I limped to the entrance of my second hospital medical building. I navigated around the huddle of smokers, around the doorway, getting their afternoon fix. The automated door opened and I walked inside and took a deep breath of fresh air, leaving the cigarette fog outside. Ironic
I joined another huddle of people waiting for the elevator. A man in his forties with a groomed goatee winked at me. I couldn’t manage more than a smile, even though I am a sucker for goatees.
He gestured for me to go ahead and asked, “What floor?”
“Three please. Thank you.”
He glanced at the young man who waited with us as he muttered, “Five, thanks.”
The waiting room was packed. I headed straight for the front desk and signed in. There was a sign that read: “Have a seat until someone calls you.” There were two empty seats, so I picked the one closest to the desk.
My face suddenly felt like it was on fire and I needed a splash of cold water on it. “Excuse me, where is your restroom, please?”
The woman behind the desk pointed to the door, “It’s down the hall on your right.”
Back in the waiting room, I felt better, cooler. People were watching TV, set on CNN. Others were flipping through magazines. I watched the news on CNN. The stories were beginning to repeat and I wondered how much longer I had to wait, it had been 45 minutes already. It was 4:35 p.m. before I heard my name.
A nurse, who sounded like my second ex-mother-in-law, called my name.
I wonder how things are back in Boston.
“If you would leave your insurance card and I.D. with Elaine please, I will take you back.”
“Please step on the scale for me. What are you seeing the doctor for today?”
“My left knee.”
The nurse took my blood pressure and temperature.
Hmmmmm, how come the doctor I went to two weeks ago didn’t do this?
“The doctor will be in shortly.”
Again my face felt like it was on fire. “May I please have a cup of water?” I asked before she left the room.
She came back and handed me a plastic cup of water. I drank half and dipped my fingers in the cup and sprinkled my face with the rest. I felt better, cooler.
The doctor knocked first, and then opened the door. He extended his hand and introduced himself. “Nice to meet you Ms. Crocco, I am Dr. Kaveh. I see you are having some knee pain. How long has it been bothering you?”
“Yes, doctor, a few months.”
I liked Dr. Kaveh immediately. He was forty-something and displayed a calm demeanor.
“What grade do you teach?”
He obviously read my short bio before meeting me. He sat on his rolling stool and gently lifted my knee to examine it.
“Seventh and eighth,” I said, and then jumped with pain.
“Sorry I hurt the sore spot on your knee.” he said.
We went over the forms I filled out in the waiting room. He was thorough. He asked me to clarify a few of my answers.
But why didn’t I mention I felt tired more often?
“I want you to have a CBC,” said Dr. Kaveh, writing the lab order as he spoke.
“What is that?”
“I like to have a complete blood count for my new patients.”
Oh, blood? Wait, can’t he get my results from Dr. Sachs?
“Doctor, in April I had blood work done from my gynecologist, can you use those results?”
“That was five months ago. I will request Dr. Sachs fax them over for my records, but I want a current CBC. Elaine will contact Dr. Sachs.
“Regarding your knee, I want you to see an orthopedic surgeon for X-rays and a diagnosis. In the meantime, take Tylenol and apply ice twice a day.”
He handed me a Lab order for a CBC and walked me to Elaine’s desk. He asked her to obtain my file from Dr. Sachs and added that he wanted to see me back in a week for a follow-up visit.
“Thank you doctor.”
“You’re welcome, have a good week.”
Elaine accepted Visa. She asked me if next Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. would be okay.
It would have to be after 3:00 p.m. I have never taken a day off from my students.
We finally settled on 4:30 p.m. and I left.
September 16, 2003
“Nice to see you again Ms. Crocco,” said Dr. Kaveh while extending his hand to me.
“Nice to see you, too, doctor,” I lied.
Why is he flipping those papers back and forth, back and forth?
“I have a copy of your blood results Ms. Crocco. Tell me, did Dr. Sachs go over these with you?”
“Well, he said everything seems fine. He did say if I’d been bleeding, he would have done a biopsy.” That sounded stupid.
“I don’t want to alarm you, but I am sending you to an oncologist. I want you to see him right away. Elaine will have a list of doctors on your insurance plan.”
What word did he say, on… on… onculst? “Why doctor?” I asked clueless.
“Did the doctor mention anything about your white blood cell count?” Doctor Kaveh sounded annoyed with me.
“No,” I said. What is a white blood cell count?
“We will talk more after you see an oncologist; they will send the report to me. Pick up the list of my referrals from Elaine and make the appointment right away, do you understand Ms. Crocco?” The doctor flipped the papers back and forth, back and forth.
“Yes,” I said. Why does he look so concerned?
“By the way, Mary, how is your knee? Did you make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon as I suggested?”
“Yes, doctor I did. I have an appointment this Thursday.
“Good, ask to have the results of your exam and X-rays sent to me please. They will ask for your primary doctor when you check in. I see you are limping. Keep applying ice and try to rest.”
“Okay doctor. Thank you.”
“We’ll talk soon. Take care.”
“Okay, good-by doctor.”
I’ve got to call mom.
September 18, 2003
My appointment with the orthopedic surgeon resulted in an exam of my knee, X-rays and an unexpected MRI scan scheduled for September 23rd.