politics in the doctor’s office: if the doctor is late, blame … the president?

So I’m on vacation in New Jersey and I find myself in need of a doctor. Nothing serious, just need some antibiotics.  I’m looking at a fifteen hour flight back to Abu Dhabi in a few days, and I don’t want to be discomfy.

Okay. I find the Long Beach Island Medical Center, they can take me at 10:45, great fine good, they don’t take my insurance, okay, that’s a drag, but I gotta gets me some antibiotics so I’ll pay out of pocket and hope the insurance gods will decide to reimburse me.

I fill out all the forms and when I turn them in, I notice this flyer on the counter:

I think to myself “self, someone here isn’t an Obamafan,” and I wonder why having the government involved in medical practice is dangerous (I hate all those regulations about doctors being licensed and crap, don’t you?) but I figure, hey it’s just a flyer, I don’t have to pick it up if I don’t want to, and remind myself that the separation of church and state doesn’t include doctors.

I’m ushered into the exam room, where I am asked most of the questions that I’ve just answered on the forms. Then I sit, and sit, and sit. And sit some more. I sit so long I wonder if I’ve been wafted into one of those countries with horrifying socialized medicine, you know, those places we hear about when we’re told what would happen if we had universal healthcare?

Dr. Clancy comes in just as I’m about to walk down the hall to the receptionist to ask how much longer it will be (it’s been a good 45 minutes in the exam room).  I apologize (why am I apologizing? I was on time) and say that I have to pick up my kids at 12 and it’s already 11: 30.

He says, smiling, “if we’re running late, you can blame the President.”

I think for a minute he’s making a really weird joke but he’s not.

He fumbles at the computer on his desk and says, “yep, that Obamacare, we now come in early, leave late, and have to close for an hour at lunch. The girls say it’s added about 100 minutes to their day.”  He stares at the computer, mutters, taps in a password, then says “yep, okay, got it.” I see my  name come up on the screen.  Once he’d figured out how to work that there computer thingy, he was off to the races. In between listening to my lungs, tapping my back, and taking my blood pressure, he never stopped talking.

“It’s these Electronic Records, we didn’t want to do it, you know, it’s an invasion of privacy, but they make us. Every day you don’t sign on to do the records, they fine you. I ordered a copy of the thing from the government, you know, Obamacare, it’s a big thick thing and dense! I couldn’t get through the first five pages, but it’s everywhere, they charge 1% on every transaction now, and 2 1/2% on student loans, and everywhere, because they’ve got to pay for that Obamacare somehow.”

People, I had a crisis in my head. Do I try and reason with this guy? Do I say “dude, every civilized country on the planet is ahead of us in terms of health care, and frankly, so are some of the uncivilized ones, so what the hell is your problem?”  Or “hey, shut the fuck up and do your job?” Or perhaps the more polite “I’m a little uncomfortable here because I disagree with pretty much every word coming out of your mouth.” Or do I try and sympathize with old Dr. Clancy, who is perhaps having difficulty with a President who is, you know  black, not to mention went-to-Harvard, not to mention never-strapped-his-dog-to-the-roof-of-his-car?

But weighing against all these possible responses: I need antibiotics.

He took a breath, tapped another key, and said “you’re all set.”

I kept my mouth shut, paid my bill, collected my prescription, popped my pills. So on the one hand, I feel better.

And on the other hand? I’m furious. At myself for keeping my mouth shut (drugs! I needed drugs! it’s not my fault) and at the doctor’s abuse of his position. Long Beach Island is a pretty conservative place (let’s just say I have an overwhelming urge in the grocery store parking lot, sometimes, to creep around and peel off the “Fire Pelosi” and “RRRRRRRomney” bumper stickers), but even so, does that give this doctor the right to rant at me as I sit in his office just waiting for my stupid prescription?

Plus his tirade makes me wonder. Even after the Akins fiasco, and Mitt’s EuroGaffe Tour, and Paul Ryan the lipless wonder dog’s sad-eyed performance as Ayn Rand’s altar boy (click here for why Ryan gets Rand rong), people are still going to vote their fear and either vote for the RightwingwRong Ticket or stay home.  That means you can kiss a balanced Supreme Court good-bye; you can kiss women’s rights good-bye; you can kiss … well, you can pretty much kiss the second half of the twentieth century good-bye.

Long Beach Island. Its beaches are wonderful, the pace delightful. Just don’t get sick.








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14 Responses to politics in the doctor’s office: if the doctor is late, blame … the president?

  1. tracy August 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    I am sorry you were treated this way. Everyone deserves better.

    • Deborah Quinn August 27, 2012 at 1:29 am #

      So nice to see you back here, TracyW! What blew me away is the fact that he never once seemed to stop to consider whether I would want to hear his diatribe; it was the assumptiveness of it that killed me, I think. Grr.

  2. Brandy August 27, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    OMG I would have had the same dilemma as you. Also, I probably would’ve said something along the lines of “if you’ve only read through 5 pages of the Obamacare documents, how exactly do you know what’s so wrong about it? Please tell me you read more than 5 pages of your textbooks in college!” Or maybe told him he was getting so stupid in his old age he shouldn’t be practicing medicine anymore. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have said those things… But would’ve definitely wanted to! Actually, I’m PMSing right now; I may have punched him!

    • Deborah Quinn August 27, 2012 at 5:13 am #

      You know, that ran through my head, that he is a medical doctor and yet couldn’t push past the first five pages? I mean, yes, sure, it’s a dense legal document but, um…Organic Chemistry? I hear that’s a tough one too… And yes, he was older and also quite overweight, so not exactly looking like the paragon of a health professional. Sigh.

  3. Halala Mama August 27, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    OMG is right. I think I would have opened with “are you really an MD and you couldn’t make it more than 5 pages into a govt document? Check please.” Because seriously. This guy is supposed to be smart enough to be an MD and have studied everything about the human body…I think he could read the document if he weren’t so irritated that he had to close an hour for lunch. Whatever. Besides, if everyone could go to the doctor then perhaps he would be able to have even more patients and rake in even more cash?

    My mom asked me the other day if I liked Paul Ryan a little bit. My mom, who had a heart attack and spent 6 weeks hospitalized and then in rehab with people who were so far mentally gone, refuses to understand that the elderly should not be given medical vouchers. That lady out in the hall shouting about her purse? She is in no condition to make medical decisions.

    America. A nation of people who vote against their own interests.
    Halala Mama recently posted..No Posts Were Found!My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn August 27, 2012 at 5:17 am #

      YES. to every single thing you just said. My gram had dementia in her last years and couldn’t be trusted to pass you the salt with any accuracy. You’re telling me that SHE should be entrusted with a bunch of vouchers for this, that, and the other thing? You’re sounding like Thomas Frank, who wrote in his book Don’t Think of an Elephant (I think it was that book), that so many people who are voting are voting for the GOP (out of fear, ignorance, gullibility, habit) that they are absolutely shooting themselves in both feet with every pull of the voting lever. I love those who say “yeah, get the government outta my face,” as they drive down the paved road past the working stoplight to the public school to pick up their kids & then go to some fringe church that gets to stay in operation because THE GOVERNMENT allows people to worship as they see fit.
      If Romney wins, y’all can come live with us in the dictatorship in the sand. : )

      • Halala Mama August 27, 2012 at 5:20 am #

        I am going to have to look that book up…because obviously. I live in the reddest county in a red, red state. And I don’t understand it at all.

        Ismael would LOVE to live there; I on the other hand do not do well in 120 heat….
        Halala Mama recently posted..No Posts Were Found!My Profile

  4. Lady Jennie August 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Wow. Just Wow. And … ouch.
    Lady Jennie recently posted..A Sunset Near BordeauxMy Profile

  5. Alex@LateEnough August 28, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    I would’ve debated it because what is that doctor even talking about?!?! But my husband and I both have our MDs so I don’t feel the unequal power as much maybe.
    Overall, I think the doctor’s office is not appropriate to have politics even though I feel strongly that doctors as individuals (and on Facebook and wherever) should engage in these debates. The same goes for teachers and many areas where an opinion can feel like a putdown.
    Alex@LateEnough recently posted..We Almost Got Cable Until I Remembered How Much I Hate CommercialsMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn August 29, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      I think that of course doctors as individuals can engage with all sorts of political debates, as can/should the AMA and whatever other organizations are out there. I try very hard to keep my political views out of the classroom, although my students don’t have too difficult a time figuring them out, but I would never, ever think about dragging my soapbox into the classroom and discussing anything in such a pointed fashion. More than what he was saying, it was where and when he chose to express his views that really got to me.

  6. Jen {at} take2mommy August 28, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I would have done the same thing you did: disagree with the doc while keeping my mouth shut to get the drugs and get out of there quickly. Actually, a similar thing happened with my primary care doc a month or so ago. He was fumbling around with that same new computer system, cursing it, and spewing off-color jokes at the same time. I said nothing, just sat there, shocked. The doc is an old friend of my mother-in-law, so I didn’t want to create waves.
    Jen {at} take2mommy recently posted..Summer 2012: My Work Here is Done.My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn August 29, 2012 at 8:24 am #

      Amazing the things we do to keep the boat from rocking. That situation sounds uncomfortable, to say the least. I’d be tempted to tattle on him to my MIL (the cowards refuge: let her do the dirty work of chastising this guy!)

  7. magpie August 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    wow. i’d have been furious too.

    (and yeah! you worked in the dog on the roof of the car!)
    magpie recently posted..How to invent in the kitchenMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn August 29, 2012 at 8:24 am #

      The dog on the roof…it’s always got to be in the mix when you’re talking about the Mittster!

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