Tuesday, October 10, 2006
A Nominal Fee On A Sliding Scale
I've always thought that the condition of having money or not having it could be summed up by the instruments in gynocologist offices. In the almost free clinics where you pay a nominal sum on a sliding scale, the instruments the doctor will use on you sit in an uncovered bucket next to the examination table. In my HMO office, a towels drapes the bucket so that you can't see what's in it. In the nicest offices I have been in, the patient never even sees the speculum and the other torture rack devices. But a doctor's office is a doctor's office, a sad place no matter how much money you have or how nice it is. Even a routine yearly pap smear is fraught with trauma, delivering all the cancer histories in a monotone, trying to keep from worrying that some stray cell hasn't taken to turning against you. A friend of mine told me about his wife's new condition -- a falling uterus. She has to push it back in about once a week until they do the surgery, he said. Dear sweet Lord! The pain of women, it seems, has no end.
My mother, a cancer patient for many years, had many good gynocologists, the best one being a kind man who examined me for anorexia as a child and told my mother that all was well, that I was just skinny and hyper. How sad for those days to end! He had a happy bedside manner that disappeared when his wife left him for someone. My mother asked why and he said, Because that someone has more money. The someone, Martina Natirtilova, entered into a long-term romantic partnership with the doctor's wife for many years. What I did, he said, wasn't good enough for her. The doctor had a thriving practice, a great reputation, and more money than anyone I had ever known. There were pictures of exotic islands and ski vacations all over his office walls. I'd always thought of sliding scales as being confined to a certain level of poverty, but alas, the whole world had its various scales, ones in which everyone, no matter what happened, could be found wanting.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The rule was that I had to tell the truth, and I had to tell him everything." Amy Hempel, "Offertory"
Drinking movie suggestion: Walk the Line
Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks for the ghostly story ideas! Feel free to add more if you like.