“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire

Barbie Doctor

My grandfather was a doctor.  Not really just a doctor, he was my doctor for my entire life until he passed away when I was nearly thirty.  He also owned a hospital, which was walking distance from my house, where my sister Gina and I would wander into to say hello and just happen to drop by the pharmacy, where there was a whole wall of candy.  The pharmacist would let us pick out one candy bar apiece, until my grandpa would walk in and say “they are my kids, they can have anything they want”, which the pharmacist must have just loved.  He was a good doctor, except he was slightly biased because he thought I was perfect.  He also seemed to think we were invincible, because when I would say something like “I have a  headache”, he would say things like “you don’t have a headache, we don’t get headaches in this family.”  Oh.  Okay. Also… confusing, because my head is really aching.

He was good at everything, except giving shots, which he was terrible at.  Every time he gave me a shot I would get a huge bruise, but he wouldn’t let anyone else touch us, so I used to try and wheedle the nurses to give me the shot before he came back.  It was mostly unsuccessful, so I was bruised but he would kiss me and tell me to get over it because we don’t bruise in our family.

When I was in my twenties, he and my grandma moved to Palm Desert and I used to go out there for weekends of hanging out by the pool, shopping with my grandma, and trying new restaurants.  It was truly wonderful, and I miss them both terribly.  The only part I didn’t like, and fell for every time, was when we would go to dinner he would “just stop by the office for one minute” on the way.  This was a ruse; he was secretly just trying to inspect my skin.  I am very fair and very freckly, and have always had issues with moles and things (I guess we do have skin issues in our family) so he would like to inspect me and burn things off me “real quick”, which hurt like a bitch.  But then I did get a really good meal with dessert because I was a brave girl.

After he passed away, I helped my mom and aunts clean out his office (he was still practicing) and I found my file, which is now one of my most cherished possessions.  It is hilarious, it documents every runny nose and fever I have had since birth and illustrates them in such non-biased language as this “Patient is a very beautiful, extremely intelligent four year old with an ear infection”, it is awesome.

Since he passed away, I have had a hard time finding doctors – one doctor, upon hearing my medical history, said “oh, so you’ve never actually been to the doctor.  I can be your doctor, but – and this is important to remember – I am probably not going to love you.”  Whatever, Dr. Jerk.  My approach to medical issues is to not actually see a doctor until I’m sure I know what is wrong with me.  So I usually walk in and say something like “I have strep throat, and need an anti-biotic” and am honestly surprised when they actually want to look down my throat.

My uncle is a doctor too, and he has much the same approach to medicine that my grandpa did – “Eh, it will go away probably”.  I have a growth under my collar bone that has gotten bigger in the past month, and so last weekend at a family party, I showed it to my uncle and said “It’s cancer, right?  I’m going to die?” and he squinted and said “eh, it’s probably nothing, tell your dermatologist to biopsy it” WHICH DOESN’T SOUND LIKE NOTHING TO ME.  He also said “I can rip it off if I can find a screwdriver, but you need to biopsy it” and I think he was barely kidding.  So, this morning, like my grandpa’s brave girl, I marched in to my dermatologist and said “Hi, you don’t need to do a skin check, but my uncle said you need to biopsy this, and then I guess I need an antibiotic.”  She smiled patiently at me, and then spent ten solid minutes looking over every inch of my body, just to prove some kind of point.  She then said “everything looks good, but I’m going to biopsy this”, pointing to my chest.  No, shit lady, my uncle just told you that.  So, ten days to find out if I’m going to live or die.  Fingers crossed.

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One response to ““The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire

  1. very cute, your grandfather would love that you remember hi this way, love, aunt mary jo p.s. will you be coming to dinner with your folks on the 16th. would love to see you for family dinner.

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