I went to my GP this year. Apparently patients do that sort of thing all the time, but it felt odd, giving over the swivel chair. I hadn’t realised the degree of power inferred by a collared shirt and castor wheels.
I felt more comfortable going to someone I didn’t know; a bit of professional distance is handy—I figured about nine suburbs should do it.
The surgery was a lovely, refurbished Queenslander, and I hid around the corner of the balcony waiting room, hoping no-one would recognise me. I even resisted the urge to leave a few business cards on the chair for any patients looking for a change.
My GP didn’t know me, which suited me fine. Surprising, actually, that he hadn’t heard of my professional reputation around Brisbane. Nor read a single one of my articles. Just how I wanted it. Not even a friend of a respected colleague? No? No worries. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone quite so many suburbs.
For the first time ever, I can write unimpeded by patient confidentiality. Mine was an absolutely fascinating case actually, so I’ll waste no time in telling you. Let me rephrase that: I’ll waste no time in telling you.
But I will say this: it took quite some weeks of symptoms to get me there. See, I’m the opposite of a hypochondriac. Almost a hyperchondriac. I’m not so much a stoic, but lazily steeped in the doctor’s tradition that illness is something that happens to other people.
Yep, I’m a perennial optimist, which also explains why my preferred career as a novelist never took off—unlike Dostoevsky, I can never think of anything meaningfully depressing to say.
Anyway, we optimists like to be liked, so I tried to be the perfect patient. I gave a succinct history of the presenting complaint then filled in the rest of the gaps; medications (nil); allergies (nil); social life (nil, although I name-dropped a few Brisbane specialists I wished I hung out with).
That was all in response to his first open-ended question and, oddly, he didn’t ask a second.
So I lightly sprinkled in some doctor-doctor jokes—very apt—then put my arms by my side without being asked during the abdominal examination. Even stopped talking when he took out his stethoscope, although why anyone listens to bowel sounds is beyond me. Nonetheless, I believe I succeeded in making my colon sound soothing.
My diagnosis? I can’t wait to tell you! Let me rephrase that: I can’t wait to tell you.
But I do have time to tell you I returned this month with a more straightforward complaint: a swollen left knee.
I pointed out that since we both hoped to fix it quickly, we had joint aspirations. He told me to stop talking.