These days, Thursdays are my busiest day of the week. It’s the day I see all of my on treatment patients. Currently there are thirty one of them—a busy load for a radiation oncologist. Nonetheless, I have instructed my therapists that they must leave me time for lunch, and so they schedule the patients so that during a brief period during the noon hour, my nurse and I can retreat to the quiet of our offices and grab a bite to eat. Food having always been of major importance to me—it’s the high point of my day on a busy day like today. Since we have no cafeteria or vendors in our building, I usually bring something easy, like a salad, or perhaps some cottage cheese and tomatoes. I don’t usually hit the Milky Ways and peanut M and M’s until late at night, but that’s for a different story. When I do break for lunch, I can usually be found at my computer, catching up with emails, surfing Facebook, and yes, checking to see if anyone is actually reading this blog.
So there I was minding my own business, the door to my office wide open to compensate for the fact that maintenance has never succeeded in making the room cool enough to ward off my hot flashes, when a man walks into my office and says, “Is there a doctor around here?” I have not met this man before, but I assume he is one of the patients belonging to one of my colleagues who have been covering one day a week since my partner went out sick. I look around hopefully for my nurse who is nowhere in sight, and then own up. “Yes sir, I am the doctor here. I am Dr. Fielding. May I help you?” He said, “Yes, I need you to look at my rectum. I think there’s something there.” I am hoping that he has lung cancer, since I do not want to look at his rectum, or his anus during lunch. I say, “Sir, since we haven’t met, what are we treating you for?” He said, definitively, “Rectal cancer.” I see now that, as they say, the only way out is through.
So I ceremoniously put down my fork, pick up my napkin and dab at my lips, and say, “Follow me.” In we go to the exam room next door, where he drops his drawers and I have a look. It’s a hemorrhoid, plain and simple, and swollen from the irritation caused by the radiation. I say, “Sir, it’s not the cancer. It’s a hemorrhoid. I can prescribe some medicine for it.” There is an audible sigh of relief. He follows me back into my office, where the sad tomatoes and mozzarella are looking a bit waterlogged by their balsalmic vinegar. I write the prescription and he thanks me profusely and goes on his way, and I go back to my lunch. A day in the life….
Reflecting on this later, I thought to myself, “Well, at least he wasn’t an asshole when he asked me to look at his asshole during lunch.” Always happy to be of service!