June 17, 2009

Trip to the Doctor

Yesterday was the day to take my mom to the urologist. It's an hour and a half drive and we brought Julius with us. I was certain at some point we'd have a conversation that entailed her telling me how I really need to buy a fly swatter to use on the kids and how they run over the top of me all the time. I mean, after all, how long can you be in the car with your mother without the topic of fly swatters coming up? That's normal, right? (The answer, by the way, is about 17.5 minutes.)

We made it to the doctor's office without incident. The doctor's office was like nothing I've ever seen in my life. Part of my mom's loathing about going to this doctor was that she felt like his office was a "mill".

"They just mill people in there," she said vehemently. "In, out, in, out, as fast as they can." I pressed on the gas pedal harder and hoped there were no police cars out there. Although maybe if I got pulled over I'd be lucky and he'd have a mother that was an angry-doctor-visitor. Maybe he'd understand.

When I walked into the building I could see what she was talking about. The full length of the huge lobby was lined on both sides by individual, sculpted counters. Behind each counter was a tight-lipped receptionist. Little paper signs on each counter announced the number of each "pod" and what doctor belonged to that pod. As if all the doctors were sleek and porpoise like, slicing through the medical waters with grace and ease. As if.

We stood at "Pod 6" and stared at the receptionist who said our appointment was at 1:15, not 11:45. So after driving an hour and a half we'd have to sit around for another two hours because we're freaks who like to arrive early, even to the doctor's office where they make you wait until are so weak you'll submit to nearly anything if they will just agree to talk to you for five minutes.

Pink Nurse couldn't understand why there was foam coming out of my mother's mouth and I didn't feel like explaining it. So, off we went to find something to eat and kill time.

Upon our return, I dropped my mom off at the front and parked. Julius and I walked into the foyer and there was an old guy in front of us, shuffling along like Tim Conway. He was not even halfway across the foyer and I thought Julius and I could just scoot around him and go through the door ahead. It's not like I was actually cutting in front of him -- it was a big foyer and we'd be there a good five minutes if we just stood behind him and waited.

As I passed by him I looked over and smiled so I didn't come across as some impatient whippersnapper, which I obviously did since he yelled at the top of his voice, "Well... EXCUSE ME!"

My stride stuttered and I glanced over at him and he scowled at me with his angry old man face. I was surprised he didn't shake his cane at me. I just kept walking because what do you say? I thought about apologizing except I didn't do anything wrong and my mom was, by now, all the way at the other end of the building waiting for me.


And then my mouth started moving and words came out. I didn't actually do anything myself, it was just my mouth which said, "YEP, REAL BIG HURRY, SEEEE YAAAA!" (You can see the real time post about it on my family blog.) And I just kept on walking.

Amazingly, the actual consultation with the doctor turned out remarkably without incident, without the usual routine where my mom beats up the doctor and makes him submit to her will and I good-naturedly cajole him into discussing my mother's treatment again. (Your basic good cop/bad cop routine in which I am an unwilling participant.) Instead, she smiled and joked. He smiled and joked. I was just grateful there was no actual flirting going on.

Of course, then she had to mention uva ursi and the asparagus and 6-pack of classic Coke treatment for kidney stones at which point the doctor got a strange look on his face, walked out of the room and never returned. After a few minutes mom and I looked at each other and shrugged.

The nurse scheduled her for lithotripsy on Thursday which is where they use a sonic blast to vaporize your kidney stone. I think I saw that done on a Superman cartoon once.

On the way out, Julius decided we were to only walk on the strips of dark green carpet. I went along with it. Mom walked up and stepped on the light part of the carpet. I said, "You can't do that. You have to walk on the dark part."

She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "We're walking on the dark part?"

I nodded as this guy about my age walked past. He had dark hair, a beard and was loaded down with three bags. He wore socks with sandals. He smiled, indicating he'd overheard us and glanced down at the carpet.

I pointed to him. "You, too. Only the dark parts."

He hopped on to the dark strip that was in front of him and turned to follow it all the way across to the other side of the lobby where another green strip ran perpendicular so he could walk to the other end of the building.

I fell into line behind him, then Julius, then Mom, all of us walking in this crazy single file down the dark green strip of carpet. I could feel all the Pod Mistresses staring at us.

Mom says, "What happens if we step on the light part?"

I said, "Alligators will eat you."

"Oh," she said and kept following.

We were nearly at the door when another green stripe made a T at the stripe we were on. Sock & Sandal Guy did a little sidestepping, grape-vine maneuver sideways back across the lobby to the other side where his family was waiting. I gave him the thumbs up. I think he probably does line-dancing on the weekends.

At the lobby doors the three of us remaining stopped and looked at the great expanse of light carpet before us. There was no way to get from here to there without going into the pit of alligators. I leaned way over and waved my papers in front of the door sensor to open it and told Julius to try to jump across while I held the door open.

The Pod Mistress behind me laughed. I said, "One... Two... Three... JUMP!" He, of course, didn't make it. I didn't make it either. Even my mom with her kidney stone tried to jump. She is the only one who made it, claiming she stepped across on the back of the biggest alligator.

The glass doors slid shut behind us and we headed to the car.

"Don't step on the cracks," Julius said. And we didn't.


  1. I LOVE that you guys went along with the dark carpet idea! Even the sandal guy!!! I will be smiling all day about this!

  2. "Don't step on the cracks," Julius said. And we didn't.

    Thank God for that! Can you imagine the carnage if you had?! Julius steps on one crack, which as everyone knows, breaks his mother's back. So then you go down, and on your way, YOU step on a crack and your mother's falling down behind you.

    Within a short and terrifying few seconds, Julius would either collapse from despair and shock...or, he'd become mad with perceived power and run off into the sunset, shrieking and cackling and shaking his fist at a world he would soon rule.

    Coquetting Tarradiddles

  3. Gertrude, thanks. :)

    Kristian, I think the latter. He gets his megalomania from his mother.

  4. What a delightful story, well except about the kidney stones.
    I send my best for your Mom's quick recovery and no carpet alligator attacks!

  5. "I was just grateful there was no actual flirting going on."

    Seriously, Wendy - you are soooo funny!

  6. I've been to some of those Dr offices ... mean and nasty.

    Also, run in to way too many of the older slower patients ...

    My D had the kidney zapping surgery last year. It's a day surgery but your Mom will be in a lot of pain. And, I mean a LOT ..

    My D was doing ok and the ride home was ... oh, MAMA ... so, get those pain meds before you leave the hospital ... not on the way ...

    I do not want to ever have that done ...

    I've done the walking on the carpet thing too ... why not make fun of it

  7. That's the sweetest doctor's office story I've ever heard. Hope your mother recovers soon. Have a great day.

  8. Huh, who knew that the DMV had started a Urology service on the side. That's hilarious about the slow walking guy. I find myself in that situation all the time and am never quite sure how to handle it. Thankfully, I've never been called out for my RUDENESS.

  9. Aw :o)

    This put a smile on my face

  10. It's nice to hear of adults that aren't too "grown up" to have some fun.

  11. "vaporize your kidney stone"

    Apparently, this can now be done over the internet. I got a SPAM email offering the service once.

  12. The image of the doctors office comes to mind...it's sort space ship like and the pod mistresses are really not human, they are androids. The doctor's are just a front of something sinister going on, interesting experiments on "human longevity potential" by watching their reaction, on secret spy video cameras, when they are told that they are 2 hours early for their appointment.
    See, there are sensors all through the carpeting, only in the light carpeting. You are safe in the dark carpeting. It's amazing that Julius knew this. He must have extra special sensor powers...

  13. Yes, yes, yes, I needed this story on this slow, miserable, sirens-in-the-background morning. When grown adults can still play, I feel hopeful that all is not lost.

    :) Debi

    PS - Did I mention I LOVE it!!

  14. you know. i really do love your blogs. this really made me smile.. its the type of thing i would try to persuade my mom to do.. im not sure she would tho.

    but i do enjoy reading you stories :) x

  15. ooh I've been in the situation with the slow walker... I never know what to do, but I always walk around and smile just as you did. Yesterday I had to park quickly to use an ATM and I was a little in the handicapped space and a mean old man, as he walked perfectly over to the ATM, yelled at me. curmudgeon.

  16. True life. That's what this is; and I love your account of it. The engagement of the strange man walking on the carpet stripes? Priceless. The encounter with the somewhat-decrepit, outwardly-offended man? Typical. I've been in the same situation...only the cane did get shaken at me.

  17. Great story again. Loved the part wtih the elderly man. Loved the part with the fly swatters. My grandmother used fly swatters on my brother and cousins. It was a hoot to see her trying to reach them under the kitchen table with her swatter.

    Loved the part with the doctors too. Loved the part with the dark green parts and the alligators.

    My 90+ grandfather cut some woman off in the grocery store with his cart...she gave him a "look"....he said, "We gave you the right to vote didn't we?" I guess we lost male chivalry when we were given the right to vote. Angry old men and their comments are quite comical...Aren't they?

  18. I hate going going to the doctor. HATE IT! It's nice that you and Julius went along (do you guys want to come with me next time?) Thank you for your posts. I look forward to reading them--seriously.

  19. he he lovely post wendy :) ty for stopping by again :) i am in that happy exhausted end of birthday party bliss that only a mum knows he he .. have cooked for two days and fed 8 hungry kids and adults also ...now can barely string nine words together .. sipping my glass of wine and glancing at my partner beside me on the sofa x im in a happy place x Kittibee :)

  20. what a fun mom you are :)

    and a great story teller!!! i don't know too many people who can make a trip to the urologist funny !!! but you did!
    thanks for that laugh...

  21. One time, when we had to rent a U-Haul, we were at the U-Haul rent place... which had a checkered linoleum floor. Well, my daughter (aged 4), decided we could only step on the black squares. She had the whole room of people doing it (all 4 of us!).

  22. Whatever shall I do if you ever stop telling these stories? Seriously I get so sucked in to them. I love it!

    I'm pretty sure that old guy was at the bank the other day! There I was waiting patiently for the teller to say RedRoverRedRoverSendSaraRightOver, looking in my purse for lack of any place better to look, when Old Guy says, 'You think this is going to take awhile?' and I assume he's talking about the tellers giving permission to approach so I say (because I thought it was kind of odd to ask) 'Oh, I have no idea' "well then I'll just go ahead," he says, and then bolts right in front of me to the teller??? He was asking me if I was going to be long staring into my purse? Huh?
    The teller *did* give me an apologetic look, so I know it wasn't just me. Little ba*tard totally cut in front of me! ;) Ah well, something to look forward to when I'm old I guess.

    Good thing the light spots in the carpet weren't also lava. We seem to have a lot of lava trouble out here in PA. Who knew?

  23. I've had the lithotripsy. It was a walk in the park compared to passing a stone! My dad had it done 20 yrs ago and it was harder, but he did both kidneys; not advisable! I need to go do it again. I have an 8mm stone in one they need to crush. Keep putting it off. No pain, no doctor, I always say. ha

    That's cute the guy walked the carpet with you. You find all kinds of humanity out there. :-)

    Doctors offices like that make me sick. I went to an internist one time that had 4 people scheduled for 1:00 and it's just him and one nurse. Yeah. ok!

  24. Martha: We're off for more adventures tomorrow. Hopefully no alligators. We'll see how it goes.

    Tati: No, no, YOU'RE funny. :)

    JC: Thanks for the tips. I tried to talk my brother into taking her but he declined. Actually, he LAUGHED and dropped the phone and then declined. Big meanie.

    Michelle: Thanks for the kind wishes!

    Shawn: If you're waiting you might as well get it all done at once. We were thinking about getting her a personalized license plate while we were there that says something like "IP4U".

  25. Sproglet: :D

    Moonshadow: Might as well make the best of it right?

    Jeff: I will check into that. Thanks for the tip. The only ones I have been getting are the colon cleanse ones. I wonder if they have been reading my blog.

    Kim: He continually stuns me with the depth of his insight. I've been thinking of giving him the stock market pages or maybe taking him to the horse races. I mean, I'm feeding him daily for heaven's sake. He needs to be giving something back in return.

    Debi: It's never lost. Sometimes it's dark and takes longer to find, but it's never lost.

    Caysiee: Your mom's just out of the habit. Work on her. :)

    Funnyrunner: At least you're a fast runner. As steamed as he was if he'd had a little more gumption he might have caught me.

  26. What a sport your mother is, fly-swatter talk notwithstanding. My mom's into the multi-purpose wooden spoon.

  27. Dawn: The bad part is they have a greater reach with that cane.

    Mary's mom: Thanks. :) I hate the fly swatter. My mom had terrible aim and I said never never never with my kids!

    Amy: Call when you have to go again, we'll be right over (unless you're overseas in which case we'll still come over but you need to give us a little more warning).

    Kittibee: It's good to be a survivor.

    BenLand and Crystal: Thanks. You're sweet.

  28. It's never like this when I go to the doctors. I really need to borrow your family to make it more interesting. It just wouldn't work with my husband in tow.

  29. Hixon: Kids are so inspiring!

    Sara: (hee hee) Okay, now that guy was just a MENACE. Next time you need to do a takedown on him. I mean, just cause he's an old guy doesn't mean he gets to rule the road. Sheesh. I can't wait til I'm a really old lady. I want to be Jay Leno's Fruitcake Lady when I get old.

    Renee and Cullen: I never got that quadruple booking thing. I think all doctor's do it. My mom tells this story about a plumber who billed the doctor for the time he was in the waiting room and he says he won the case. I don't know if it's true or just one of those fantasies she had.

    Lawyer Mom: Compared to a wooden spoon the flyswatter isn't that bad except for the fact that my mother frequently missed and ended up hitting me with the metal part (which is basically the same material that a coat hanger is made of). When I remark on this as an adult she says, "Well, if you would have stood still that wouldn't have happened." She's a spinmaster, that one.

    Madame DeFarge: You and Amy need to get together and schedule your doctor visits and we'll all go. In fact, maybe I should just start a blogger's HMO or healthcare group.

  30. I was LOL at the mention of Tim Conway. You seem really good natured. I had an old man at the grocery store get all perturbed that I was walking in front of the cereal that he was looking at.

  31. You have a way of drawing us into your every day life. I enjoyed the part about the carpeting. Made me laugh!

  32. Wendy: I love the part about Mr. Sandal following Julius's instructions. What a good guy. He sort of made up for the cane-wielding man, didn't he? I also have had mishaps with trying to pass up old guys (and old women). The other day, I had to really work hard at my maneuvering skills in order to get past an old couple holding hands. It's like an obstacle course out there, I'm telling you!

  33. What a funny post. I have a mother who always says that she hopes to live long enough to be a burden on her children - so I can relate. Loved the part about only walking on the dark carpet.

  34. My dad passed away 7 years ago. He used to always tell us that we were "just making memories". Those little things like getting a stranger to walk on just the dark part of the carpet with you...awesome! What a great story!

    Prayers for your mom Thursday. I've been blasted for stones twice now. Hope all goes well for her!

  35. Love your writing and your sense of humor!

  36. I think I would enjoy meeting this socks & sandal guy.

    That was very cute.

  37. Our kids are blessed to have two great-grandmothers, and as the stay at home that I am, sometimes I get to pick up the slack when my mother-in-law has to show a house. Good times driving around the 88 yr old biddy. She makes it a point to tell me how terrible soda is and catches me up on every Fox News story from the past two weeks. She is also the prayer warrior of the family and such an amazing woman. What age is it that you've earned the right to say whatever you want without argument?

  38. Hey... is EVERYONE in your family THAT cool?? :D

  39. OFF TOPIC - Do you have your Entrecard widget somewhere... i came from an EntreCard ad to your blog and would like to drop my card.

  40. Wendy,
    Great story, I loved it.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, come back any time.
    Have a wonderful day,

  41. See, that's what makes life fun, among the medical appointments and grumpy old men. You find something utterly silly and just do it, whether it's just because you feel like it or because someone else wants you to. There's such a sense of kinship in that, that it almost doesn't matter about the sillyness itself, though that can be important too.

    Good for Mr Socks'n'Sandals. We need more people like that in the world - and you even made a receptionist smile!

    I'm glad your Mom is getting her stone sorted out, and very glad she has retained some sense of fun, too!

  42. I bet that grumpy Tim Conway guy wouldn't have walked on the dark part of the carpet. Of course, I can totally understand his confusion about why ANYone could ever be in a hurry in a doctor's office.

  43. You are amazing! You have inspired me to look around me and take it all in! I can't believe how you can relate a mundane task like a doctor's visit into something that has me smiling over my coffee! (Isn't there a blog award for that?) Thanks once again!

  44. Oh myyy,,,this made me think of the trip I took to the doctor with my Dad. I smiled......

  45. You, my friend, are so freakin' hilarious. Your whole family, too! Love you all. I wish we could have been there to walk in front of you as alligator bait!


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