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The doctor's office. Hell hole of broken bones, fevers, and babies screaming their guts out 'cause they know what's coming. They see it all over Mommy's face. The doctors like to pretty it up with words like "vaccination," but you and I know it's a shot in the arm. And it hurts. Tough break, kids, this is just the beginning.
"Excuse me, but do you have an appointment?"
It's a blonde dame behind the appointment desk, eyeing me like I'm trouble. But I know where this is going, and I can handle it. I wasn't born yesterday.
"Uh, no, but I hear you've got a great team here, and I'm not feeling too rosey. Got a doc I could see?"
"Well, you'll have to wait until one is free, if you don't have an appointment."
"I got nothin' but time, lady."
True enough, cause I'm on the heels of a scoop so hot it'll melt on ice. Britney Spears came to this office once. That's right, I saw a picture in the paper and traced the address. I'm no slouch, and now I'm gonna fake it til I make it right into the hands of the chick who took her vitals. Docs don't tell, but medical assistants do.
After about an hour I hear my name called out.
"Hi," chirps the chick, "I'm Jo. I'll be your medical assistant today." Sure enough, her name tag reads "Jo" Jensen, Medical Assistant.
Like a good little patient I follow her into the exam room.
"So," says Jo, "Tell me what brings you here today, so I can relay it to the doctor. You'll be seeing Dr. Meyer, by the way. He's great."
"Actually, Jo, you're the one I need to talk to. I hear Britney Spears has been in this joint. I'm a reporter, and . . ."
"Oh, now, we can't discuss our patients' visits. That would break confidentiality. Roll up your sleeve, please, so I can take your blood pressure."
"Listen, Jo, I'm not about to spill any beans if you gimme a nugget or two, see. Just let me ask the questions, and you can kinda nod up and down or sideways, got it?"
"110 over 78. Not bad, but keep a watch over that bottom number, ok?"
"Yeah, Jo, whatever you say. Now listen up. Does Britney have a dread disease? Is she dyin' or anything?"
"Let me put this under your tongue and don't speak for a sec. No, certainly nothing like that. 99.3 -- are you feeling tired or anything?"
"Fit as a fiddle, Jo. Do you know if she's on medications? Anti-depressants, muscle-relaxers, birth control?
Gimme something, Jo, I've got readers and they're chompin' at the bit!"
"You know I can't tell you anything like that. I didn't even do her intake, that was Sal . . . that was someone else. Now let me take your pulse."
"Sal? Sally? Someone named Sally? C'mon Jo, open up!!"
"Miss, you're going to have to calm down, your pulse is up to 90. I'll just put down 75 since you're a little worked up. Yes it was Sally, but she's not here today, and anyway, you know our privacy rules. By the way, when did you get your last booster shot?"
"'Booster shot'? Isn't that what you get in fifth grade or something?"
"Oh, my! Someone hasn't had her booster every ten years! I'll be right back."
Sure as shootin', two minutes later she's back with a needle big enough to tank an elephant.
"Say, honey, whatdya think you're -- OWWW! " I was seeing stars, and all Jo could do was giggle.
"You're worse than our little babies! Here's a tissue -- now it wasn't THAT bad."
"You're killin' me here Jo, and for what?"
I was goin' under, and with nothing to show for it. Jo says something, and I force myself not to pass out, 'cause know it's the low down.
"Just between us, she had a little temp, just like you."
"Temp, a temp," I gasp, almost knocked out. "Something else, Jo, quick, something . . ."
"Well," Jo hesitates, "we gave her some free samples of Claritin, because she ran out. And that's absolutely all you're getting from me."
Jo walks me back to the waiting room and sits me in a chair. I'm starting to come to again.
"You just sit here for a bit and you should be just fine in about five minutes."
Sure enough, in less than five I come back from the dead. Watch those boosters, kids -- they're worse than a left hook, and your arm's sore for a week.
"Don't see me out," I say to blondie at the front desk.
"What was that?"
"I've got another appointment, honey, with Destiny. So don't bother to see me out."
"I wasn't going to."
And she didn't. But it's no skin off my schnozz, 'cause I don't need the special treatment. All I need is the straight scoop, and that's just what I got. Britney Spears, crazy with fever, begging for free drugs while pretending not to die from a dread disease. It doesn't get more gut wrenching than that.
But I'm not here to pretty up the diagnosis, just dish it. I'm a reporter, dammit -- that's my job.
© 2007 Kate Heidel
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Heidel is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis. Her work includes humor essays and poetry, genres so incompatible that Kate's resulting inner turmoil can only be soothed by frequent shopping trips to Designer Shoe Warehouse.
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