Going to the doctor is one of life’s more surprisingly awkward moments. It starts from the moment you walk into the lobby and commence wondering how close to the front desk you should ideally be before introducing yourself to the receptionist, even though you’ve already made eye contact. You then sit around for just long enough to wonder what you’re doing here – like, in general – before being called in and having to explain your body’s latest bizarre plot twist to a stranger. See? Awkward.
All the while you’re trying not to look at graphic posters offering unsolicited advice about conditions ranging from arthritis to diabetic foot ulcers, which do wonders for your feelings of wellbeing (not). Half the time, the doctor will either have no idea what’s wrong with you and send you on your way to figure it out yourself, or set you up for some kind of test or treatment you’ve never heard of, which you must duly dash off to obtain.
Whether it’s an obscure medication of some kind of specialised treatment, like mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Melbourne medical centres seem to see providing an explanation as a waste of time. On some level, this is probably true, because there’s invariably a growing number of increasingly perturbed patients queuing up in the lobby, and ‘just search it’ is clearly the most efficient way of explaining a complex procedure or issue.
So you come back out into the lobby, only to be faced with the question of what this jumble of papers you’re holding is all about. Are you supposed to call the specialist to make an appointment, or does the doctor do it? You go to the reception desk and endeavour to convey your confusion over the midday cooking show playing on the overhead TV.
Look, none of this is a complaint per se. If it is, it’s a complaint about life in general, not about the medical system or the people who work in it. After all, what is life if not a string of surprisingly awkward moments?