Monday, April 1, 2013

Is there a doctor in the house? Not yet—but maybe if I wait long enough…


One of my favorite things about the tv series ‘Star Trek Voyager’ was ‘The Doctor’, played by the wonderful Robert Picardo.  He wasn’t a real person, he was a hologram.  When the USS Voyager was thrown into the Delta Quadrant (75,000 light years from home), the ship sustained heavy casualties, including the chief medical officer.  So when someone needed some doctorin’, off they went to Sickbay and said “Computer, activate the EMH.”    

The EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram)would materialize and say “State the nature of the medical emergency.”  He was none too pleased when informed he’d be working full-time as the ship’s doctor—“I’m only an emergency medical  program!”—but over seven seasons this bald-headed hologram became one of the crew, sang opera, questioned his own existence and even fell in love with a Borg.   What a terrific character.

Anyway, wouldn’t it be awesome if every home had an EMH?  Of course it would, especially for borderline agoraphobes like me.  I know it sounds far-fetched now, but did people in the 1970s consider the possibility that computers in the home would be as common as televisions within their lifetime?  (Okay maybe some did, but I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted everything we’d be doing with ‘em.)  So who’s to say we won’t have access to our very own holographic doctor someday?  I’m not asking for a heart surgeon, just a general practitioner.  With no waiting rooms.      

“Laptop, activate the EMH--hey Doc, my knee is acting up again, can you help a brother out?  I gotta get up for work in a couple hours…”

Unfortunately, no holographic doctors exist yet so it looks like I’ll be paying a visit to a real one soon, if I can find out who my PCP is, and where they practice. 

I haven’t seen a doctor in several years, close to a decade in fact.  I know that’s not something to be proud of, but my motto has always been ‘if you go looking for trouble, you’re bound to find it.’   Besides, my last doctor didn’t exactly make a good impression on me.  Back in 2004, I was experiencing some funny feelings in my chest.  I called my PCP’s office, they said “we can see you right away if you come right in” and I did, and waited for 3 1/2 hours.  (I know doctors offices are known for this, but c’mon.)  When the doc finally saw me, his exact words were “What’s wrong now, Dougie?”   I said “Excuse me?”  He just looked at me and I said “Doctor, this is my first visit here.”  He said “So?”  I said “Then why do you sound like I was just here a week ago?”  He said “Ok, explain the problem.”   I did, he ran an EKG and delighted in telling me my heart worries were all in my head, not in my chest.

Anyway, I know his practice moved several years ago and I was assigned someone else & then they moved on too.  But between this current issue with a knee which likes to swell up and down for no reason at all (oh how it hates climbing stairs) and my tennis elbow (the two take turns jabbing me) and this recent burning sensation when I… well, I don’t think I’m going to get off scot-free in my fifties like I did in my thirties and forties. 

All I know for sure is that the next time a doctor says ‘What’s wrong now Dougie’ on my first visit, I’m going to punch him in the nose.   Unless he’s a hologram!

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