He sat there at the keyboard of his laptop, peering at the screen. He was not a happy camper. Our ten minutes together was over, and it had been a lot of fun while it lasted. A small joke, the ticker was okay, blood pressure normal, normal sounding arteries, medicine that seemed to be working okay. I was putting my shoes on, and he was at the keyboard of the computer the health service had given him, summarizing and documenting, tapping away at the keys, sending to Alabama or somewhere on Mars a form to get me a 90 supply of medicine.
“Nice the way they make it so you don’t need an assistant any more.” I said. “Doing all the work yourself.”
“You noticed that huh?” he said. “Here I am, just like everyone else in the world, staring at the goddamn screen, filling in blanks. Data, data, data.”
He was filling in a new form that I was to take home with me. It would show me all the medicine I was taking.
“It’s all they talk about these days in medicine. It’s all these young doctors think about, is getting the data. And who are we getting all this data for? The damn insurance companies.”
He paused and swung around and fixed me with an eagle eye.
“ I mean, what about you, what about Mike Kirby, what about the patient? What about having enough time to talk? What about the chemistry between us, about asking the right questions, sensing moods, having the time and leisure to probe into what happens to be going on? What about that? Is it all going by the board?”
He laughed. Questions like that need no answers.
But my health system has speed and accuracy, you have to say that. No sooner had I put myself together and was walking down the corridor, the phlebotomist spotted me coming.
“Michael Kirby?” she says,
“You reading tea leaves again?” I said.
“Step into our closet. I’m psychic.” she said, “On continual alert. Sit right down.”
She must have done this six kajillion times. The needle goes in without a twinge. Tomorrow morning, the phone will ring and I’ll know my creatine levels are okay or not. And life will go on.