Guest Post by Esther Cohen
Many people I know, of every age and proclivity, are looking for a new doctor. Even if they have one already.
A good doctor’s not easy to find. We have, many of us, moved away from the kindly-ish all knowing childhood variety (mine was my Uncle Jack. A large man. No one even Wife Fayette would question his dictums. Health or otherwise). Today we inhabit another universe, where wellness is used every other sentence and Dr. Oz is on TV every single day with advice, where yoga and meditation are part of the common parlance, and many can pronounce ayurveda. What it means is another story, but still.
I’m on the search myself. Here’s what’s on my criteria list: kind, funny, non-invasive (a newish term). Not too test oriented. Talks and listens. Doesn’t make you wait for hours. Takes my insurance. Calls back in a reasonable time period. Has a receptionist who would not be mistaken for Goebels or Goering.
Last week I tried two different candidates: beautiful Indian woman and an overweight 53 year old Jewish man.
The woman, Dr. R., was in an ugly space. (So was he. Aesthetics are not a requirement, though they’d be nice. ) But Roy, the man who met me at her door, Dr. R’s yoga and breathing instructor, was one of the best looking people of all time. He looked as though he could do a quick headstand and maybe teach me too.
Dr. R. sees her patients in the dark. No lights, really. She believes the dark is meditative. I could see her enough to know she too is beautiful. She said Indians believe (she does, anyway) that from 50 on we’re on the other side. She said I could take four kinds of herbs, and coat my skin daily with sesame oil, to hold off my inevitable drying out. Oddly enough, I bought the herbs. I’m not sure why. Conditioning? She also said I should never eat broccoli for lunch. I never do, but on the Dr. R. visiting day, in mild defiance, I ate a Chinese lunch: broccoli in garlic sauce.
Then I went to Dr. P., for my eyes. Even though he’s an eye doctor, Dr. Ps office looks pretty bad. His walls are a color that isn’t a real color – beige-ish, and his paintings are part of the Day’s Inn school – ubiquitous boat on ubiquitous wave. Dr. P., though, was more or less the ideal. He seems to have maximum eye information, but he didn’t find it necessary to recite all the facts. He answered questions and asked a few. Even his receptionist seemed ok. Before handing me the requisite clipboard with questions (wouldn’t it be great if they asked a question like How Do You Feel?) she said Welcome.
I liked Dr. P. enough to ask the question I’ve asked everyone, more or less. Can you recommend an internist? Someone like you, I said. Forget it, he responded. Doesn’t exist. I guess the search continues.
I met a woman in the elevator today. A stranger. Coming from a visit from a new doctor. Someone she’d never met before. How was it? I asked.
Could have been better, she said.
There aren’t many people realize that we need a general physician to do preventative care, especially in America. In Germany, as far as I know from my friends lived there for many years, the ratio between general care and accute care is so much bigger than we have. What you wrote about Dr. R can be a very routine conversation with your general physician, who provides daily maintenance of healthy living, keep up with new medical findings and translate them into wisdom of daily practice of life… I would so much like to see that happen in America. With so much dollars we spent in research and training for physicians, the overall healthcare system would be much better off if we can “educate” people before they are turned into patients.
Heck, I’d be happy to find a GP who made eye contact.