Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doctor Who?

When I was little, Dr. Yates' office was a comforting place. While most kids don't enjoy going to the doctor, I always did, in a way. I think it's because I knew that shortly after I left there, I'd probably be feeling better. And I knew that because... he gave me medicine when I needed it, he did blood work to try to find out what was wrong, his nurse put a band-aid on my butt after I got a shot, or whatever. Basically, he just did his job. He was old-school. He was kind, but he told it like it was. He smoked a pipe in the exam room and it didn't even seem strange back then. Oh lord, imagine if that was to take place in this day and age. The lawsuits! The newspaper articles! It would be pandemonium.

You see, when I was little, there were two things "wrong" with me. First, I developed what Dr. Yates called "nervous stomach" when I started the first grade. I complained of an upset stomach so many mornings, that eventually I had to go see the doctor. He said it was most likely my nerves, and gave me this horrible tasting green medicine. To this day, I still sometimes wonder if the medicine was real, or made up to make me think it was helping a stomach ache. Don't get me wrong, my stomach really did hurt, but I mostly just didn't want to go to school. Man, that stuff was really awful. I can't even describe it. But if I think about it, I can still taste it. Actually, you know what it tasted like? It tasted the way heartburn feels... all the way down.

The other issue I had, was with my ears. I got a lot of ear infections and my eardrums were apparently inferior in some way, because they burst, twice. That's another thing I can remember vividly; that pain is the worst pain I've ever felt. I can remember laying on the living room couch, just wanting it to go away. My dad had stayed up with me that night, which was strange. I begged to go see Dr. Yates, so he would make it better. Unfortunately it was the middle of the night, so there wasn't much that could be done. Sometime later, after another ear infection, I heard Dr. Yates tell whoever was there with me - I'm sure it was either my mom or my Grandma - that if I got another one, I'd have to get tubes in my ears. I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it didn't sound fun. Thankfully, I either grew out of getting ear infections, or talked myself out of another one. It was about 22 years before I had one again. And let me tell you, the ear infection I had as an adult was just as miserable as all the ones from my childhood.

Anyway, the point is, I lived through it all. I was never afraid to get a shot or have my temperature taken, and I think that means something. I wish I could thank Dr. Yates now, for giving me that sense of security when I was young. I have a feeling he'd just tell me he was doing his job.

Dr. Yates retired when I was a teenager. I didn't go to a doctor again for probably 5 or so years. Since then, I've been through four or five other doctors. Each time I've swtiched, it was beacuse they moved, or retired, or started only doctoring commercial pilots, or something random like that. I didn't stop seeing them because I didn't like them. Well, except the one in The Village. He was just awful. But overall, I've been basically satisfied.

I like the doctor I go to now. He's a nice enough guy, and he seems to care. But I still long for the comfort I felt when I was young. Nowadays I'm not always convinced that I'll really be feeling better soon after I see him. I don't know if it's the health care system, if it's the fault of insurance agencies, or if it's just the fact that we live in a much more fast paced society, but things just aren't the way they used to be. Getting us in and out, as fast as possible, seems to be the policy these days. And that's if you can even get an appointment in the first place.

I have no idea what might work to improve the medical situation in this country, but I know a lot of people have a lot of different ideas. I also know that I'm one of the lucky ones, because I do have really good insurance that I don't have to pay a lot for. However, I guess I still need to go read the newspaper or something, and try to educate myself on the whole situation. I'm 32 now, and Dr. Yates isn't going to start practicing again anytime soon. I might has well learn to live with that.