Well, now I’m starting to get a glimpse of what it might be like someday, or even closer than someday. In the first three days of this week, I had four appointments: first with my kids’ orthodontist, then with the doctor who prescribes the little pills I’ve started to take for my recently diagnosed, mild bipolar disorder – a short, sweet conversation, everything’s on track, he went down his list of questions just as a computerized doctor would have, or, for that matter, just as I would have on the basis of reading a home medical care manual -- then with a woman I talk to for forty-five minutes every week to help clear the brush on my path, and finally – the most troubling one – with a urologist.
I’d never been to a urologist before, but a couple of weeks ago I was lying awake at four in the morning, minding my own business, when I happened up a little nodule in a place I usually don’t examine much. My family doctor had me take an ultrasound, and while the nodule turned out to be a harmless cyst, the radiologist discovered a questionable area, a patch of fuzzy discontinuity, in another part of the forest, so to speak.
The waiting rooms of urologists, it turns out, have their own special culture. Gray-haired, paunchy men with heavy Texas accents kept getting up to tell the receptionist they were going to use the restroom. A young man wearing a mechanic’s blue jumper looked sorrowful while his perky wife, sitting next to him, kept explaining out loud that they were anxious and that he had to go urgently. An excessively made-up lady of about eighty, blue insurance card in hand, crossed herself, the card hitting all four points with a light click of plastic on wool. And I? I kept getting up and taking drinks of water from the fountain outside, because I had peed before arriving and hadn’t known they would want a sample.
The urologist was reassuring – he didn’t feel anything anomalous on physical examination – and I left happily, silently wishing everyone in the waiting room well, and pleased with myself for being younger than most of them.
It was a peek down a long corridor of time. I step gingerly over the threshold; I glance this way and that, looking to see who’s ahead of me and who’s just behind me in line.
I’m already booked for more appointments next week.