The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

I was regaled with a funny story from my officemate this morning about her doctor's visit yesterday. When she opened her comments with, "If you've been looking for the worst doctor in Clearwater, call off your search, because I found him," I knew it would be a good one.

She's had this persisent coughing and sinus problem all week long, and after realizing that it wasn't attributable to allergies, she bit the bullet and set up a doctor's appointment. This was a first-time visit, so the first thing the doctor did was give her a once-over physical. She said she was fine with that, although I have the feeling that she wasn't completely comfortable, considering that she knew the problem was a throat/respiratory thing. But doctor's orders and all that.

So the doctor did his thing, and when he was done, asked her the following:

"Are you taking any herbal preparations?"

My friend was thrown by this. "What do you mean by 'herbal preparations'?"

"You know," the doctor said. "Herbal preparations."

"I don't know what that is. What sort of things are you talking about? Can you give me an example?"

A nurse who was in the room with them chimed in, "What we mean is, you know, herbal preparations."

Already peeved by having to undergo what she felt was an iffy physical exam, my friend was getting testy with this rather dense line of questioning. She made another attempt at clarity: "Are you talking about vitamins, something like that?"

Nurse: "No no, we mean more like--Herbal. Preparations."

They might have been alluding to some modern-day snake-oil remedy like St. John's Wort or something, and simply didn't have the communicative skills to get their point across. Or they might have been probing about more illicit substances like marijuana, and were desperately trying not to say so. Whatever the case, my friend was fed up by now, and just said, "I don't think so. Why?"

The doc delivered the kicker: "Well, it's just that a lot of women have been using herbal preparations lately when they're trying to get pregnant."

Getting pregnant is a sore point with my friend. She's pretty much dead set against having any kids, ever; but as a married woman in her late 20s, she's getting pressure from several directions to breed, already. To get this assumption from a schmuck doctor who seemed less than on-the-ball, and who she was seeing solely for a respiratory problem, was too much to take. Adding to the awkwardness was that a fellow officemate around the same age officially announced yesterday morning that she was a few weeks pregnant; I think the juxtaposition felt like yet another societal full-court press on her to have a child.

Despite telling the doctor that she was definitely not taking anything to get pregnant, herbal or otherwise, he kept insisting otherwise. At that point, my friend got her prescription and got the hell out of there.

Kind of harrowing, kind of funny. It made for a good morning story, anyway.

UPDATE: I checked with her later in the day on one point: The doctor did ask her directly regarding pot and other illicit drug use, so that wasn't what he was hinting at.

It also occurred to us that "herbal preparations" connotes Preparation H. Good for hemorrhoids, bad for babies?