Yesterday was my birthday, and I hope you will forgive me for not having installed neon fonts or flashing banners on the blog for the occasion. After all, I merely turned forty-one, what's the big deal? My fortieth birthday had some gravitas behind it, but forty-one? It's a non-event, a prime number, not a big deal.
DAD: Hey, aren't you coming to visit?
ME: I'd like to.
DAD: What about this Christmas?
ME: I can't do Christmas, I'm working.
DAD: You're working over Christmas?
DAD: Why over Christmas?
ME: Remember the last time you drove by a hospital and they had that sign in front that said "Doctor on duty 24 hours a day"? Well, one of those days is Christmas, and that doctor is me.
MOM: OK, when will we talk again?
ME: Well, I'm working this weekend--
MOM: You're working this weekend?
MOM: You worked last weekend!
MOM: So why are you working again this weekend?
ME: Well, someone's got to.
OB RN: Hello, Birth Center?
MOM: Oh hello, is Dr. Chan there?
OB RN: I haven't seen her. May I take a message?
MOM (hesitating): Well, I'm her mother, and I just want to know where she is--
OB RN (immediately sympathetic): Oh, well let me see-- (flags down another OB RN). Wendy, can you go to Med-Surg and see if Dr. Chan is over there.
MOM: Thank you.
Wendy runs to Med-Surg and peers into the charting area, where she sees me with the phone propped on my shoulder. She runs back to the Birth Center and gives OB RN a thumbs up.
OB RN: We have a visual on Dr. Chan, would you like to speak to her?
MOM (hastily): Oh no. No, no. Don't tell her I called, I just want to know where she is.
OB RN: Are you sure? If you hold--
MOM: DON'T TELL HER I CALLED!
ME (appearing at the door of Mom's apartment): Hi, I'm here!
MOM: Hi. Putting on weight, I see.
ME: You say that every time I visit.
MOM: Well, it's true every time you visit. (Peering at me disconsolately.) Do something about your hair, will you?
ME (good nature wearing thin): What do you suggest?
MOM (with emphasis, as if speaking to an idiot): Get it cut.
ME: I will, if I see a SuperCuts.
MOM: Go to my guy around the corner, he only charges $25.
ME: I don't want to spend $25 on a lousy haircut.
MOM: How is it you're a working doctor and you can't afford a decent haircut?
MOM: Hey, I know this isn't our day to talk, but--
ME: I'm at work--
MOM: I know, I know, but I have a problem and I just want you to tell me it's not serious.
ME: Well, what is it?
MOM: The left side of my nose is stuffed up.
ME: The left side. Oh.
MOM: Is that significant?
ME: Not really, not compared to the right side. Now if it had been the right side--
MOM: Be serious!
MOM: Listen, Dr. Thorough said my thyroid was abnormal.
ME: Your thyroid function?
MOM: Yes. I have the lab results here. (Sound of paper rustling.) It says the T-S-H is 5.9, which is high.
ME: A little bit, yes.
MOM: So if it is high, why did Dr. Thorough say I have HYPOthyroidism?
ME: TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. So if it is high, it means your pituitary has to produce more stimulating hormone in order to get your thyroid gland to function properly.
MOM: What does my pituitary have to do with it?
ME (sighing): How much endocrinology do you want to hear about?
If the conversation leads to a question of treatment options, it quickly descends into absurdity.
MOM: Dr. Thorough says I should take Fosamax because my bone scan results are worse than they were last time.ME: Okay, maybe it's time for you to take it.MOM: But I don't want to.ME: Here we go. Why are you telling me, then?MOM: Because I want your advice.ME: Why do you want my advice? You never do anything I suggest.MOM: You can't expect me to take advice from a doctor whose diapers I once changed, can you?