Lately, I’ve been having a sort of dull pain in my lower back on the left side. It tends to only happen in the later part of the afternoon. Today, for whatever reason, it felt a bit worse. I told my friend about it, and said I thought perhaps I had a kidney infection or something like that. She suggested I go to the doctor. I said “Nope.” She asked why. I laughed.
And then I told her why…
Here’s what I said:
“This is how it works. K...you get an appointment. You show up 15 minutes before your appointment and pay your co-pay ($25) and then you sit in the waiting room for 15-30 minutes. After that, a nurse calls you back and weighs you and measures you and scowls at you. Then she puts you in a room to wait for the doctor. The room is freezing. You wait and stare at posters of the inside of an ear or nose or, God forbid, human genitalia, and wait some more until another nurse comes in. She takes your blood pressure and temperature and asks what's wrong with you and writes it down in a folder for the doctor. She probably also writes some notes about how fat you are and maybe draws a doodle or two. She leaves and you to wait, cold and alone, staring at the same weird posters. In desperation, you grab one of the pamphlets on the counter. It is probably about arthritis or hip replacements or some other topic totally unconnected to you, your gender or station in life. And you wait. And you are cold. And you try not to fall asleep. Then, after about 30-45 minutes the doctor arrives. He asks questions. You warm up from the sheer feeling of progress. Three to five minutes later, he says he will be right back and leaves. You feel like, this is it, its close. You are going to be home soon. Fifteen to -20 minutes later, once the warmth has left your body and your teeth are chattering, the doctor returns. He writes you a prescription and says you can go. And, you have frostbite on the tip of your nose. You also feel terrible about yourself on account of the scowls and doodles. And you feel violated on account of the weird medical posters. But, you have a prescription! It’s all going to be better! So, you proceed directly to your pharmacy and wait in line to drop it off. The clerk tells you it will be ready…in an hour. So you walk around the store aimlessly, waiting, trying not to buy a travel sewing kit or some lipstick that will no doubt turn out to be a mistake. Then, you hear your name. You pay your $20. You go home. You take the meds. And, you are better in about a week.”
To that, my friend said “Crazy.”
See, my friend lives in Canada. She just decides to go to the doctor one day and goes. She doesn’t have to make an appointment. She doesn’t have to step on a scale. And, she doesn’t have to pay. She just goes, tells them what’s wrong and walks out with pills. No co-pays. No waiting at the pharmacy. Nothing.
This, my friends, is called Utopia…and I, for one, want to live there. If for no other reason than I won’t have to look at a creepy medical poster ever again.