Ask My Doctor

HANK HEAVEN for all those wonderful drug companies. Without their numerous informative spots on television, I'd be getting way too much sleep, owing to my not lying awake worrying about such potential ailments as RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) or OST (Obsessive Salad Tossing). Actually, the lying awake comes more from wondering if my top sheet is moving because my toes are wiggling, or because toe-fungus gremlins are dynamiting my nails to clear ground for a new Walmart.

But I'll be okay, because insomnia is just one of the conditions I've been encouraged to ask my doctor about. You'll be shocked to learn there's at least one very expensive drug I could try. And the music that plays during the high-speed run down of side effects is so pleasant that I'm beginning to hum to such oldies but goodies as:

"(Help! I'm) Bleeding from Every Pore"

"(That's Why) Frequent Botulism (Is a Tramp)"

"(When We Begin the) Dysentery"

"Vision Loss (Is Coming to Town)"

and our personal favorite,

"(Swing Low,) Repeated Cessation of All Bodily Functions."

If you experience any of these more life-challenging side effects and still know what a telephone is, call your doctor. Then please hold while we answer your call in the order it was received. As you know, your call is important to us. Now back to Mozart, who is dead, but we don't hear him complaining like some people.

Seeing how one could so easily confuse symptoms with side effects, known in the annals of medicine as "Playing with Your Head," and further seeing how I know my doctor, upon having been asked one drug question too many, will explode, I thought I would put my time sitting with him in a cramped, institutional exam room to better purpose, to wit:

1. Could you get someone to change the pap smear picture every so often?

As I lie on my back, dainty little feet planted in those frozen stirrups, I've been looking up at the same lame flower drawing for the last 10 years at least. Do you think we don't notice such details? We're women, remember? Who do you think is straddled in those stirrups of yours, Hop-along Cassidy? Change it up now and then. Put photos of some stylish shoes up there and maybe I'll forget what you're doing to the most sacred part of my body with cold hard metal and a giant Q-tip.

2. Are you aware that, if you and another patient in another exam room are speaking at normal volume, I can pretty much hear everything you guys are saying?

I would've brought it up sooner, but I feel that I am learning so much about medicine.

3. If you have to have your medical students examine me before you do, could you please filter out the attractive young female assortment?

I realize that they require a hands-on education in order to become the best possible doctor. But perhaps their hands could be on someone a little less, shall we say, me. The thing is, it's taking longer and longer in front of the mirror to look a wee bit younger before I come and see you, and I'm already not feeling too chipper. The sight of a 20-something female med student hopscotching into the exam room with no makeup, dark circles under her eyes, and unkempt hair, still looking young and cute, is downright pathological. If you claim to be promoting my health, I don't see how you can sit there and tolerate someone who has the word "pathological" anywhere near her, even if it's only in my sentence. I hope I've made myself perfectly clear.

4. Could you talk to someone about getting better reading material out there in the waiting room?

We're really not all that keen on magazines entitled Sports Medicine Today or Heart Attack Digest. What we require is unadulterated gossip to distract us from our miseries. I could wait forever with an Extreme Hollywood Dirt on my lap, or maybe a copy of Pics of Your Fave Stars Looking Like Hell! I might even show up way early.

5. Why is your new digital scale so horribly mis-calibrated?

Do I look 137 lbs? That was a rhetorical question. Now I don't personally own a scale, but I happen to know that I am never more than 128 lbs., give or take a few ounces. My clothes tell me so. Apparently you are unaware that women's clothes talk to them. "My, how nice you look in me today," a pair of my slacks remarked recently. "Clearly you are right around 128 lbs., or I wouldn't be fitting you this splendidly. Please tell your doctor to do something about that ridiculous digital scale."

6. Do you ever have the urge to just leave a patient in the exam room and head to the bar with one of those cute young female medical students?

I'll just bet you do.