Young woman at front desk brisk, efficient, almost abrasive.
Waiting room maybe 15′ x 40′, 7-8 groups of fake leather chairs with stainless tubing.
6 or 7 masked patients, patiently waiting, widely spaced, half of them on their phones, the others also bored.
Rain, rain outside the window and the door, go away.
The wait, the usual interminable wait.
The doctor, remember, wears no watch and is conscious of no time. He simply works, he says, non-stop till the work gets done.
The prospect of beer, later this afternoon, in the rain, just out of the rain, at Crisis Brewing, during this Covid crisis, with the brewery’s comforting outdoor propane heaters at all tables.
Beer with a buddy I rarely see, whom I have tempted or tugged off the mountain, where he lives in an old stone cottage the wind blows through.
Then I’m called and weighed, 188, good gods what have I been hogging these last months without exercise, with the pandemic raging all about and fatalism rooting down.
Mattha, she says, the nursing assistant who weighs me and then works me up, as they say. How was your Christmas? Hers was fine, a husband and four boys, she wouldn’t know what to do with girls. The same problem I have had all these years. She’s tall and thin, her hair long and straight and in a ponytail.
This patient room maybe 10′ x 10′ — examining table, two fake leather chairs, a sink, a rudimentary desk with stool, and on the walls two sentimental poems, in script, re Daddy’s girl and do you want to grow up some day, sonny, just like Daddy? Big print of cowboys whipping their horses through meadow and creek, and a calendar with a verse from Romans.
Several years ago he saved me from death via prostate cancer, the good physician, sending me to a urologist, and from thence to surgery, while a distant friend of mine this summer, in a distant place, died with a PSA of over 600.
In the X-ray room a hulking cold machine and a table where the technician arranges my right knee. Overhead, then turned to the side. You’re done, she says. Take two rights, and you’ll be in room 7 once again.
Where the doctor, the good physician, finally enters and probes with questions, briefly palpates the knee where I tell him the shooting pains originate. He’s had them, too, he says, two years ago. X-rays show no bone damage, but can’t reveal ligaments and muscles. Why not take it easy. If you’re hiking and it hurts, ice it afterwards. Use ibuprofen or Aleve. Don’t pivot on that foot but step away, turn in steps.
The same good doctor I left, last time I visited, with a copy of my book of poems, but he doesn’t remember or it doesn’t impress, and he says nothing except soothing words and to the point and is sorry, he says, my friend died like that. No one really has to, in his view.
Medial meniscus tear, he says. Baby it. Ice it. Pop a few pills. May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him.