Readers Gazette Short Stories


Short Story My Doctor the Imponderable

Sleeping by Richard Steinitz Family Life short story

Visit Richard Steinitz, Author Website


So ... I was in the supermarket with my better half, minding my own business somewhere between the detergents and the sanitary products, when my phone rang.

It was our family doctor, speaking even faster than she normally does, asking me to come and see her as soon as possible. I told her I was in the middle of something (a supermarket aisle), that I would be available in about one hour, and would that be OK?

‟Yes, but you might have to wait a while. Don’t be late.‟

This might sound a) irrational and b) contradictory, and you would be right on both counts. But I must digress and go back a few spaces, and explain.

Dr. Chernobyl is an excellent doctor, a first-rate diagnostician, our family doctor for over 30 years, and totally hysterical. Hysterical not in the sense of ‟I can’t stop laughing when I’m around her‟, but hysterical in the sense of ‟Oh my God, you need to go to the ER immediately, and don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to live with this!‟ which referred to my annual hangnail.

So, I moved on to the meat section where I met the other half, as previously arranged, and told her that Dr. Death had called to tell me she wanted to see me yesterday. Mrs. Otherhalf knows all about the good doctor, and has been saved from impending doom by her on more than one occasion, but she still has not learned to tell where the truth lies, somewhere between genuine impending doom, and the Ukrainian style. She blanched severely, blending into the background of the milk and cottage cheese section, but I managed to find her and pinch her cheek, bringing some color back to her skin.

‟You know our dear Dr. Death, it’s nothing. Probably some mistake again, like the time there was a speck of dust on your mammogram and she scheduled you for an immediate double radial-mastectomy.

This calmed her down a bit, but then she remembered the trauma associated with previous incidents, like the great blood pressure rise of 1994 (due to running up the stairs to get to her office on time), the sinister sugar levels of 2003 (birthday party the day before, to say nothing of genetic tendencies) and the dust speck incident, and her blood pressure rose immediately to astronomical heights. I assured her again that it was nothing to worry about and pushed her rapidly towards the checkout isle, lest I miss my life-or-death appointment with Dr. Chernobyl.

As we ran for the car to load it with this week’s groceries, I remembered that I had been for a chest X-Ray the week before, in preparation for applying for an Australian tourist visa (which is a WHOLE different story) and my own hysteria kicked in. Was this panic invitation from Dr. Death a result of this? Did I have galloping pneumonia? Breaking-news bronchitis? Or something worse? It must be something worse, otherwise the good doctor would not have called. (Had I just forgotten recent history?)

A two-minute stop at the house to unload the perishables, reminiscent of the Pony Express’s horse-changing maneuvers and we were off to see the Wizard of Woe. I tried to persuade the Missus that she would be better off waiting at home, but she would not hear of it. She wanted to be there when I passed out from built-up fear and a sudden drop of blood pressure.

Of course, once we were at the doctor’s office, we discovered that there were 15 people ahead of us, waiting to be sentenced to medicines galore, and that the Doctor’s office hours were over in ten minutes. Since there was no point in putting off the inevitable, and being both armed with full lives of Candy Crush, we found vacant seats left over from the Spanish Inquisition and waited for our turn. And waited. And waited. Mrs. Otherhalf used her freshly sharpened elbow to wake me up twice, claiming that my snoring had been blocking the receptionist from hearing her phone ring.

When all the other 15 patients had been seen and sent on their way, the receptionist looked up from buffing her nails and said: Oh, you’re ‟ still waiting. I’ll see if the Doctor is still here, you really should make an appointment if you want to see her.‟ I counted to 22, backwards, as my mother had taught me to do in such situations and was on my third round of this exercise when the nail-buffer told us we could go in.

Clasping each other’s clammy hands, we took a deep breath and entered. Dr. Chernobyl looked up, in some surprise, and said ‟Hello, Richy‟ (which happens to be my name), ‟What can I do for you?‟

Grinding my teeth to the tune of I can’t get no satisfaction, I managed to sputter the words: ‟You called me and said it was urgent for me to come in immediately.‟ I did this without screaming, as I know she is very overworked, very forgetful and very vengeful with people that complain.

‟Oh‟, she said. ‟I saw your X-Ray, and it is perfectly fine. I just wanted to make sure you get your pneumonia vaccination before your trip, so that it stays that way. See the receptionist for the prescription and the nurse next door will administer it. Have a wonderful time in Austria. Bye now.‟

With that she picked up one of the three telephone receivers lying on her desk and resumed a conversation she had apparently been having with a patient suffering from end-stage acne. Mrs. Otherhalf and I stumbled out, took the prescription from the receptionist and went home. Plenty of time to get vaccinated before we leave for Australia (not Austria) in three months.

The level in my whiskey bottle dropped dramatically that night, as did the missus’s vermouth. We swore (again) that we would change to a different doctor at the first opportunity, and never did. Who else would treat us with such loving care and dramatic devotion?

To see more of Richard Steinitz's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit Richard Steinitz's Website.

Images used for the story are
Visit Pixabay Cardiac Pulse.

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So ... I was in the supermarket with my better half, minding my own business somewhere between the detergents and the sanitary products, when my phone rang. It was our family doctor, speaking even faster than she...

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