August 1, 2015

membership has its privileges

     I am down in the medical center to sign some more forms for work.  But I figure why not kill a couple of more birds with one stone.  Or, a coat in this case.  I'm supposed to come back down the next day for another blood draw.  But I really do not want to drive 60 miles round trip just for a blood draw when I could do it today.  I also need to get in to see a pain management specialist to see about doing something different for my back.  So when I get out of my car, I throw on my white coat that, contrary to my wife's opinion that the md should be lowercase until I complete residency, has the capitalized MD after my name.
     I sign my forms and head over to my oncologist's office.  It's quicker to walk outside but it's flirting with triple digits which is why I hate wearing the white coat in the first place.  Who would want to put on an extra layer of clothing in this climate?  But I'm realizing how much of a status symbol it really is.  So I stay inside and take the longer but air conditioned cross walk over to the office.  Instead of going through the 10 layers of bureaucracy to sign in, I simply casually walk back to the phlebotomists.  They like me because I can tell funny stories about their favorite doctors from when I was in med school.  I ask, and I must add nicely not just because I treat nurses special but because I treat all (or try to) human beings as I'd want to be treated, if they could at all possible squeeze me in.  One look at my coat's insignia and she puts her arm on me and warmly says, "we got you" with a smile.
     Five minutes after the blood collection, I'm walking from the oncology office to the neuroscience center (I'm a walking disaster).  I find out that they finally got an in house pain management specialist.  So I walk to her office suite.  It's near the end of the day so no patients are left in the waiting room.  I briefly introduce myself to the person at the desk and less than five minutes later the doc's medical assistant walks out.  I briefly explain what's wrong with me, what their spinal neurosurgeon colleague upstairs said about me (for free), and that she'd like me to try spinal injections to get some sort of relief from the chronic pain.  And I will never forget her answer because it was so kind and couldn't have been more appreciated.  "Well, we don't want to waste your time so do you want to come in for the visit and get the injection the same day?  We can make you the last case of the day since you're working nights and you can get some sleep.  We can squeeze you in next week.  Will that work?"
     I wanted to hug her.  The previous pain doc's office I tried to call first didn't answer, second time put me on hold and third time told me they were booked until September because the doctor has been on vacation and is going again.  So getting this royal treatment felt wonderful.  I'd like to think they treat all their patients this way and maybe they do.  But I also know it's because I'm a doctor for the same institution, albeit a resident.  But I figure I more than paid my dues with earning that MD under the circumstances I did so I felt a little less guilty about getting special treatment.  I've lived enough catastrophes the last 5 years that I'll take a little grace and privilege whenever I can get it.
     By the time I'm walking back to my car, I'm checking my phone and some of my blood results are already back in.  It's looking less and less like cancer and much more like a bizarre reaction to a medication.  With that sigh of relief, any feelings of guilt for getting special privilege melt away.

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