My dream, my HMO
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 by Ron Cruger
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        I didn’t sleep well the night before, so, when I went to my HMO building the following afternoon I was a bit drowsy. The appointment was for 2 p.m. Like always, I showed up early. I waited in line. I showed my membership card, paid the fee, told to “Have a seat, we’ll call you.” Same thing I hear at the butcher shop, the dentist office and the little Mexican take out restaurant up the street, “Have a seat, we’ll call you.”
        It wasn’t an emergency. I think I had sciatica. I just wanted a doctor to check me out and confirm my self-diagnosis.
        So, I behaved and sat down on the green, vinyl covered chairs lined up against the wall, separated by blond wooden tables covered with old National Geographics, AARP, Golf, Golf Digest, Woodworking Today and Prevention magazines. All old, all crumpled and no doubt crawling with bacteria from the polluted fingers of waiting patients.
        Two p.m. came and went. So did 2:15. I was getting tired from lack of sleep the night before. Two-thirty. Still no call.
        My eyelids were getting heavy. I conked out.
        The next thing I knew I heard someone beckoning.
        “Mr. Cruger?”
        I sat up quickly and said, “Here.”
        I rubbed my eyes and stood up – and fell back. My right arm and left leg had fallen asleep. I grabbed the chair and told the lady, “I’ll be right with you.”
        In a few minutes the feeling came back in my limbs. I was walking with a pronounced limp. The waiting patients all stared at me. I could feel the “Poor guy” thoughts.
        The nurse’s assistant, or whatever she was, said, “Mr. Cruger, we’re so sorry for being late, we apologize. Please walk this way.” We walked past the magic door that separates the doctors and nurses from us patients. She guided me with a light hand in the small of my back. All during the walk to the little examining room she kept apologizing. I kept saying, “That’s okay, that’s okay.”
        We got to room 6B. She gave the door a gentle “doctor knock.” The door swung open and waiting for me was the doctor. I gave him a double-take.” Imagine, the doctor waiting for me.
        “Hello, Mr. Cruger, I’m Doctor Jensen, we’re sorry we’re late. Because we were so late getting to you there’ll be no charge for this visit. And we’ll spend all the time we need with you. Now, how can we help you?”
        I was wondering if my brain had fallen asleep. First the nice lady apologized, and now the doctor is in the little examining room, waiting for me. What a turnaround.
         The doctor asked me about my symptoms. I told him. He spent twenty five minutes with me and then said, “Well, what we have here is a case of sciatica. I’m going to give you a prescription and a booklet explaining how to take care of yourself. Just rest and this situation should clear up in two to three weeks. Oh, and by the way, there’ll be no charge for the prescription.”
         Boy, this is one nice doctor. One in a million.
         “Oh, and Mr. Cruger, you call me personally anytime you need me. Here’s my personal phone number. And, I’ll be calling you in a few days to see how you’re doing.”
         “Oh, and if it’s okay with you, Mr. Cruger, I’d like to drop by your house in a week or so to see how you’re doing. That okay with you?”
         The doctor stood up from his little round stool and asked, “Is there anything more I can do for you? We’ll take all the time you need.”
         “Things have certainly changed,” I thought to myself.
         I told the doctor I appreciated his attention and shook his hand. He said, “Thanks for coming in. I’ll be seeing you at your house.”
         My neck snapped towards him as he left the little examining room.
        “What’s happening,” kept running through my mind.
        The nice nurse came in and said, “Please, just sit a while and rest. We can talk.”
        So, for the next twenty minutes the nice nurse and I sat and talked about subcutaneous cysts, narcolepsy, irritable bowel syndrome and plantar warts.
          This HMO was a nice place to be.
         Nice nurse said, “Well, I guess it’s time to go. I hope everything’s okay, now you call me anytime you need me, here’s my home number, and thanks for coming in.”
         As I walked back through the magic door and towards the exit I turned around and saw the doctor, nice nurse and the entire staff of nurses, assistants, clerks and doctors standing by the magic door smiling and waving at me. “G’by, Mr. Cruger. Have a nice day.”
        I waved back and offered a weak, surprised smile. 
        Then I heard someone beckoning, “Mr. Cruger, Mr. Cruger, is there a Mr. Cruger here?”
        I was shocked awake and said, “Here.”
        The nurse turned on her heels and barked, “Follow me.” She walked briskly ahead of me and through the magic door.
        I stood and fell back on the chair. My damn leg and arm were asleep. Numb. I limped to catch up with the assistant. People stared at me.
        I followed the nurse’s assistant until we got to the door marked 6B. The assistant said, “Go in there, take off your clothes and sit down on the table with the paper on it. The doctor’ll be here soon I think.”
        Now I knew I had been dreaming.