Recently, while in the middle of a conversation with an old high school classmate at a family gathering, a middle-aged woman who I had never met before ran up to me.
"Are you a doctor?" she blurted abrasively, stepping between my friend and me.
"I said, 'Are you a doctor?' That man over there (she pointed to my father, who was in the middle of his own conversation) says that you are and that you'd be able to help me."
Ughhh! I've had several conversations with my father about not referring me "consults," especially when I'm holding a beer in my hand at a party.
Unfortunately, my father likes to play by his own rules. And when you're nearing eighty, there's only one rule--"I'll do whatever I want." He's even had friends run up to the house to "ask me something" or "take a look at this" while I'm in town visiting. As I said before, ughhh!
After I realized that this was not a joke, I had no choice but to listen this woman out.
"Anyway, I got bit by a bug last week, right here," she spoke, sweeping her forearm in front of me, revealing a small pimple, "and it won't go away. What can you do?"
Well, I knew what I could do. It involved my steel-toe boots and this woman's ass. I was at a party, for God's sake! Or, I guess I could have set down my beer and grab the defibrillator paddles for this life-threatening emergency.
Instead, I decided to take another long sip of my draft beer. A perfectly chilled beer that was hitting the spot. Hmm--decisions, decisions. I knew this would make me look extra attentive and reflective about her question, me there dragging out that sip and pondering her illness. I mean, I wanted to look like I cared, right?
Unfortunately, I spilled some beer on my shirt during my pondering. Make that attentive, reflective, and clumsy.
She continued waving her arm in my face, anticipating my diagnosis.
"Well," I started, "if you had come to the ER while I was working, I might have tried to lance it, but I doubt there would be any drainage. Since it's small and hardly red or swollen, though, I think you will be alright just to use warm soaks on it and give it time to heal itself."
She started to open her mouth but I cut her off.
"No, it doesn't need antibiotics," I said.
"How did you know?" she asked, surprised.
You know how I know? I'll tell you how I know. Everybody wants antibiotics when they have a problem. Heck, President Obama should have just sent each family a four-pack prescription of amoxicillin instead of tax relief money. The economy would be kicking like no tomorrow, all problems solved.
She looked down at her arm again, my eyes following her's back to the minuscule bump. I hope she didn't expect me to pop that menacing pimple with my own gloveless fingers! Give me one more beer, though, and just maybe...I think I could do it, using the same technique we all used when popping our face pimples in puberty. Thankfully, though, I was of clear mind.
I was hopeful that we were done, but oh no.
"Hey," she continued, "look at this." She pulled her short-sleeve shirt from her left shoulder to expose her bra strap, her bra, and unfortunately, her boob. She was hardly fazed. Did I mention I was at a party with a lot of people around?
"Oops," she said, pulling up her bra but still exposing a shiny new scar on her anterior shoulder.
"Wow," I said, taking another long, reflective sip of what was left of my beer.
"Shoulder replacement," she said, a proud smile creeping onto her face.
"Wow," I repeated again, now making a mental list of how I could possibly repay my father for this referral. Would it be wrong or considered rude to give your eighty year-old father a wedgie? Could adult services come after me for that?
"Yeah," this woman continued, "my doctor said I was the best patient to ever have this done."
I nodded my head. The old "you're my best patient" line, successful once again.
Actually, I must admit, this woman was very nice and pleasant, in her own way, but I really didn't want to go down that road with her of all her past medical problems. I can spot that trap ten miles away. And I was at a party holding a beer, not working in the ER. I'm sure I would have enjoyed her company if not for her forearm pimple and shoulder scar.
I'm sure of it. Almost sure. Pretty sure. Okay, not sure at all. Actually, probably not. Alright, nope, I wouldn't have enjoyed her company regardless.
After she finally left, I got back to my classmate, who was flabbergasted.
"Does that happen often?"
"Yes, unfortunately, it does," I said, keeping my answer short. I really wanted to whine and complain about just how often this does happen, whether my father is around or not, but I reminded myself that nobody really wants to hear about someone else's problems.
"That's cool," said my classmate, "because I've been meaning to ask you about this toenail..."
Needless to say, I haven't been to a party since. Well, okay, maybe just one or two...
As always, thanks for reading. Sincere gratitude to all who have recently blogrolled or twittered my posts--I appreciate your support. Next post will be Monday, January 18.