Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Carrots And Sticks

Larry knew he had to make a doctor's appointment immediately. The searing chest pain almost stopped him in mid stride. For a moment he considered going to the emergency room and then thought better of it. He remembered the heart attack 10 years ago, this felt nothing like it.

The doctor's office answered on the first ring. He began to explain his predicament but the receptionist interrupted him.

Sir, you haven't been in the office for over a year. You better come in right away!

As Larry hung up the phone, he realized that he didn't mention the burning over his left rib cage. No matter, he thought, he would bring it up with the physician.


Later that day, Larry strode into the waiting room. He caught his breath in pain as he leaned up against the front desk. The receptionist took his insurance card and began to click on the computer screen.

Are you married?
What race are you?
Do you subscribe to any religion?

Larry answered each question cautiously, but wondered why he was being interrogated. The gum in the receptionists mouth cracked and popped as her eyes concentrated on the screen in front of her. As she looked up at Larry, she realized that he was losing patience. She focused on the screen as she mumbled in his direction.

New government requirements! If we don't ask, the doctor doesn't get paid.

When she finished with her questions, Larry was directed to sit in one of the flimsy chairs and wait. He placed his left hand over his heart and probed for the source of pain. He winced as if daggers were skewering him. The front desk person hadn't inquired about the reason for his visit either.


A few minutes later a nurse walked through the sliding glass doors and called his name. He shuffled gingerly into the exam room and waited as the nurse signed into the computer.

Boy Larry, you haven't been here for greater then a year. We have alot of work to do!

The nurse measured his weight, height, and waist circumference. She asked about domestic violence and gun use. As the minutes passed, Larry marveled at the detailed and often nonsensical material being covered.

To her credit, the nurse did ask Larry about pain. She even had him rate it on a scale from one to ten. But she didn't bother to ask any other details.


When the doctor finally walked into the room, Larry heaved a sigh of relief. He waited quietly for direction. The doctor shook his hand and sat down at the computer.

Wow! We haven't seen each other in a year.

He then preceded to stare silently at the computer for a few minutes. Larry watched as he clicked and typed from time to time. Moments later he was being motioned onto the table. The doctor examined him head to toe and then directed him back to the seat.

Everything looks good. We'll see you next year.

Larry was stunned. He stood to get the doctor's attention.

But what about my chest pain?

The doctor turned and removed his hand from the door knob, and glanced back at the computer.

That reminds me. With your history of heart disease, it says here that you're due for a stress test.

Without another word, he left the room.

Larry sat back in the chair and tried to put the pieces together. If the doctor had given him the chance, he would have explained that he tripped and slammed his chest against the book case. Did he really need a stress test?

When Larry made the appointment that morning, he was thinking more along the lines of an xray.

He figured he cracked a rib.

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