Posted: January 1, 2023

I had a rather awkward session at my medical appointment this week. My regular doctor is off on maternity leave and as part of a multi- professional practice I was seen by one of her partners. While it is not the traditional structure of just seeing your same doctor all the time and initially I was skeptical of the arrangement, I have actually come to like the structure as they are all quite skilled in their particular interests and sometimes you will get one who knows more about immunology or geriatrics, cardiology and so on. As much of their client base is over fifty some of these other specialties are a real bonus. It is also a large enough practice that they have a full-time Dietician and Psychologist as well as an onsite lab and a nursing staff to administer regular shots such for influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and of course Covid. As it is also a teaching clinic there is a steady stream of young, bright doctors around who bring a freshness to the operation as well. With a great digital filing system and everyone keeping good notes what is lost in not having “your own doctor” all the time is more than offset by the other perks of their structure.

But one aspect I had not experienced before occurred this week. Now this doctor I was seeing is not a regular family practitioner or a specialist focused on other adult medical issues but a Pediatrician. For my needs I did not expect it would be a problem but something just didn’t feel right walking into a room adorned with stuffed dinosaurs and pictures of unicorns and a big fish tank on one wall. It also did not help that I am a conventional full size male mammal and the only chair in the room for patients was a little stool in the shape of mushroom.

But the bigger issue was the context. She is in her late thirties and it seemed normal to her to talk to me like as if I was a child. I am old enough to be her father and I am sitting there on my toadstool with my knees up beside my ears trying to have an adult conversation. And the nature of that conversation was the real issue, having succumbed to the need to ask for some pills to enhance my performance. Now this is not something I have come to all that easily to start with and the whole experience in the kiddy playroom was getting more surreal with every passing minute.

Part of the problem was that she seemed to be somewhat amused that: a. I would still have any interest at my age, and b. that there would be a woman interested in being with me.

Clearly, she uses a lot of humour in her practice with children as the whole topic seemed amusing to her. She has one of those faces that is always in a perma-grin which must be comforting for kids but was quite off- putting in this context.

And that is when she started to call me Jack. Now some people stumble over the pronunciation of my name, trying to vocalize that unused D at the beginning, but this was something else as she pronounced it properly when I first arrived in the dinosaur den. My puzzled look was all she needed to start into her questions about how many magic beans Jack was looking for and whether the beanstalk might grow on its own somewhat or really need lots of nutrients. At that point I turned the colour of a cooked lobster and the conversation turned to hypertension.

After taking my blood pressure it was concluded, and I am quoting her here: “no magic beans for Jack until he sees a cardiologist”.  So, I now hook myself up every morning to a blood pressure monitor that sends the data to an app on my phone and in the next month I am off to see the cardiologist for a stress test but am still shaking my head about that visit.

I did like the little red sucker she gave me when I left though.