Personality

Personality counts. Especially in certain cases, like when you’re getting an ultrasound or another diagnostic test that may be cause for worry or concern. The technician who performed some tests on  me yesterday had almost zero personality. She led me or rather shuffled to the exam room with me trailing behind.  She opened the door and pointed to a paper “gown” that I was to put on. It wasn’t a really gown, but rather a sheet made of paper towel material.

She said, “Is that a dress?

“Yes,” I said.

“Take the dress and your bra off and put the gown on so it’s open in front.”

“Okay,” I said.

When she saw I was undressed with the giant paper towel wrapped around me, she said, “Lay on the table.”

A remake of “Lost in Love” by Air Supply was playing on her CD player / radio. One of my favorite love songs when I was a college freshman.

It seemed incongruous with the proceedings.

The technician begrudgingly pulled out the lower part of the examination table so my calves would not be dangling off the bottom.  The table squeaked when she jerked it down, and it was still too short for me. I’m only 5’6″. How must it be for really tall people?

“I’m going to do the echo cardiogram first,” she said. “Lay on your side.”

“Okay,” I said.

She slathered gel on my chest and starting moving the wand over my flesh.

I felt like a canned ham covered in jelly.

“Now lay on your back,” she said.

The next song that came on the CD player/radio was another remake of an easy listening song.

After ten or fifteen minutes she said, “Now I am going to do the other test.”

“Okay.”

When it was done, she said, sans expression, “You can get dressed now.”

She didn’t offer me any paper towels to wipe off the goop, so I grabbed a few I found near the sink and used the paper towel “gown” to wipe off the rest.

“When will I get the results?” I asked.

“You can go to the front desk, and they will tell you.”

“Thanks.”

She didn’t turn around to convey the information to me.

As I said, personality does count. But as long as she’s good at what she does, I guess it doesn’t matter all that much.

A Waiting Room with a View

HSS waiting room

This is the view from the Hospital for Special Surgery’s (“HSS”) Radiology Department waiting room. A waiting room with a view.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, HSS is ranked the best hospital for orthopedics in the U.S. Luckily one of the doctors there takes my insurance too.

The radiologist who x-rayed my knee had matinee-idol good looks, like Ricardo Montalbán. My first thought was, Why isn’t he in the movies?

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(google image – Ricardo Montalbán) 

He was a tall, clean-shaven Latino with salt and pepper hair and a winning smile and sense of humor. What more could a girl ask for at 8:30 in the morning in a striped hospital gown?

He asked what was wrong with my knee.

“Seems I have no cartilage,” I said.

“Ah ha. My mother’s coming here for a knee replacement soon,” he said.

“That’s probably what I’ll need. I’ve never been to this hospital before, but my friend told me it’s the best for orthopedics,” I said.

“She’s right. I bring all my family here.”

“Luckily I found a doctor who takes my insurance.”

He laughed. “Some of the doctors don’t take our insurance either, but we’re supposed to get a discount.”

For one of the final x-rays, when the machine wasn’t cooperating, he said, “This machine is very sentimental.” I think he meant “sensitive.” Or maybe he meant “sentimental.”

Who knows, maybe the machines are sentimental. Who’s to say they don’t recall past patients and absorb some of their discomforts and pain after years of photographing injured parts.

He said from the control room, “It should be working. It’s new.”

And finally, it did.

“Okay, you’re all done,” he said.

On my way out, he said, “You look like that actress. Uh, let me think . . .  . It’ll come to me later.”

“Okay, see you later then.  Thank you.”

I went into the dressing room to get changed.

After I saw the PA and the orthopedist, a guy named Buzz who was in charge of shuttling patients to and from exam rooms, said, “You remind me of a young Ellen Barkin. Has anyone ever told you that?”

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(google image – Ellen Barkin)

“Yes, they used to tell me all the time,” I said. “She’s from Queens, I think, like me. I grew up mostly in Jackson Heights.”

“Oh, yeah?”

Buzz was a charming and speedy 60-something who sported a red vest and almost lost me on the way to the exam room.

He said, “Dr. W, he’s a good one.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Good to know.”

It may sound odd, but there was a homey vibe to the hospital. Like people worked well together and the pieces fit.

Not a bad way to spend the morning.