Last Visit to the Good Doctor

I should have bought a cookie. I was at the perfect place for it, Eli’s — a Zabars family store — buying fruit and veggies, passing pastry shelf after after pastry shelf. After 20 months on Jenny Craig, my training is strong. But now I’m home, having bade farewell earlier to one of the best doctors in NYC, and I can’t cry — and one of Eli’s cookies would have been the perfect answer.

Dr. Mike. He sat behind his desk in a sparkling white shirt, with his peppery gray hair and 70-ish, trustworthy face comprised of intelligent, mischievous blue eyes and a surprisingly shy smile — looking calmer and more relaxed than I remember from previous visits. His retirement, still 2 months off, must have that effect.

He took blood and as always, I felt absolutely no pain. Not a prick, nothing. He gets into my worn-out veins the way a lifelong sailor hops into a boat … no wasted motion.

There’s so much to be said about Dr. Mike — how thorough he is in his hands-on exam, all the things he considers and looks at, how he always presents his best medical advice and information but then listens to my ideas — at least once he realized I read things and had half a brain.  We compromised. He could have tossed me out saying there was no point in my coming if I didn’t follow his recommendations.  But I think he liked that I didn’t go behind his back — I always told him what I was doing and why and I always took his advice very seriously before making my decisions.

We’ve been through a lot together.  There were emergency hospitalizations, heart flutters, spiking blood pressure episodes, disagreements about medications.  But with time, we gained what I saw as a mutual respect.  He might have seen it as a standoff not worth fighting about! I also believe there was some fondness.

Today I read him 2 of my poems. He’d never heard any and I told him I wanted him to know more of who I am. I raised my eyes once quickly as I read and saw the most delightful expression … head tilted, eyes warm and an enchanting half-smile. I repeated after that I hoped it helped him know me a little better, and he said sincerely that it did. And so we hugged goodbye, and I felt kicked in the heart.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going downstairs to the deli under my building and buy a poor substitute for a cookie, and an even worse substitute for Dr. Mike.  But it will help, and I have learned that change is — if not always wonderful — important to weather, more tolerable then I expect, and often growth-producing.  Sometimes it even leads to something good.

I’m back upstairs now.  They carry rice crackers covered with dark chocolate!  Who knew there were such a cookie? If not for Dr. Mike, I never would have found them.

 He just keeps giving!

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