I think Dr Unicorn should consider where he points his horn.
After 8 years, I finally found myself in the dermatologist’s office waiting to see about getting a cyst removed from my forehead. It appeared sometime around the new millennium but it was no big deal as my hair was thick and hid the large bump. Unfortunately, since that time, age catches up. My hairline receded and thinned and the lump became more and more obvious. Finally, tired of having little children scream in terror at the sight of me; teens laughing and ridiculing me, calling me names; family mourning my lack of social life and complete strangers wanting to rub it for luck, I decided it was time to have it seen to.
After registering, I sat down in the waiting room looking around for something to read. I can catch up on all the current events in the world from three years ago, I thought and looked for the magazines, but to my surprise the table was bare and all I could find was a single piece of paper taped to the empty magazine rack. It informed me that in order to help decrease spreading the H1N1 virus all reading materials have been removed. I never considered that for those experiencing deadly flu-like symptoms, the dermatologist would be the place everyone would race to for their reading materials. But, what do I know? I am not a medical administration professional. At least they left the seats.
With nothing else to read I started to read the piece of paper a second time, and was part-way through when a door opened. A young woman looked out and called my name, like a question. I looked around waiting room; the empty waiting room. The waiting room devoid of all life but me. Was she expecting me to be someone else? Since there was no one else there to answer her question I took to my feet and followed her into a very small examination room. So small that there was just enough room for the examination table, a chair and a shelf full of empty sample containers. Sample containers? I had a bump on my head, how would my pee help that?
She closed the door behind us. In that small box of a room a great wave of claustrophobia swept over me. I took a deep breath to calm myself and when I did it seem as if the four walls in the tiny room moved several inches closer when I inhaled. To my dismay, when I breathed out, the walls stayed where they were and did not expand. The fear of enclosed spaces screamed in my head wanting me to act but I forced it down. I had to remain in control, trapped in this small confined windowless room with all walls bare except for a single poster demonstrating various degrees of acne.
The woman explained that she had been reviewing my chart and then examine the nickle sized bump on my head for herself. She then proceeded to tell me that I would have to visit the ambulatory clinic for a 30 minute procedure where it would be frozen and removed. I thanked her and asked if I should set up my appointment on the way out?
She said yes and then noticed my hand reaching for the knob of the heavy shut door next to her. The claustrophobia, beginning to rise from the hidden depths where I had managed to suppress it just moments before, was trying to escape this casket of a room and take me with it. I was finding it harder to breath. “Yes”, she said again, “We’ll get you your appointment when you leave, but first the doctor will have to see you.” The doctor? She wasn’t the doctor? What was she, like a patient tester, checking to make sure its safe for the real doctor to come in? She asked me where if I knew where the hospital was. She told me when I arrived to come right in and not take a number. She asked if I ever had my mouth frozen by a dentist. She warned that I wasn’t to take Advil or Aspirin for the 5 days prior to my procedure to prevent the possibility of bleeding to death. (That statement made me forget my claustrophobia for a moment.) Finally she explained the next available date would be Decemeber 15th and asked if I wanted it done that close to Christmas. I told her yes, because I would be working Christmas Day so there was no need for me to look pretty for the christmas pictures. She slapped me on my knee and left room.
Even with her gone the room still seemed to be getting smaller and I tried to figure out how they had even managed to get the examination table in such a confined space. I closed my eyes to dream of bigger places and leaned my head back against the wall only to realized it was covered with a heavy dark curtain. I pulled it back to reveal the entire wall was window looking out on the empty, magazine-free waiting room. Now I no longer felt like I was trapped in a coffin, instead I now felt like a prisoner in an interrogation room or zoo animal undergoing behavioural experiments for mad scientists. Claustrophobia was now replaced with paranoia. I jumped and fumbled to get the curtain back in place when I heard voices approach.
The door opened and a young boy who appeared to be a high school student introduced himself as the Doctor. He looked at his chart and then said to me, “So, you are the unicorn.” I think he expected me to laugh, and normally I would have, but at that moment, battling claustrophobia, paranoia, and now after the name-calling, poor self-esteem issues, I was in no state to pretend to be sociable and amused.
The young punk.
Unable to hide my annoyance, I sighed rather loudly and shook my head slowly, “Yes, yes, that’s how the joke goes. Unicorn.”
Doogie Howser’s expression suddenly changed. I realized I must have been a little bit more honest with him then I intended, and he feared he had offended me. He tried to be empathic. “It’s not very good to be the subject of such jokes. The best place to deal with that,” he pointed at my head, “is at the clinic.” He reached into his shirt pocket and handed me the appointment card for my procedure. “Then that bump will be a figment of your imagination, just like unicorns.”
It was just as he said that I noticed this young doctor’s hairstyle. It was a heavily gelled ridge. By taking your two hands and starting just over each ear, you slide them straight up till they meet over the top of your head in a Mohawk-like ridge. As he looked down to sign the chart in his hand the front of his ridge pointed forward at me and there was only one to describe it.
As I left that spatially-challenged box of a room I smiled, wanting so badly to shake his hand and say, “Thank-you, Dr Unicorn!” But my claustrophobia had a great need to see the sky so I hurried for the exit. I passed a very old man standing in the hall like he was taking a nap on his feet. He appeared to awake with a start and in confusion followed close behind me as if he thought I was his ride home. I may have just imagined hearing him say it under his breath, but I broke into a gallop and ran from the building when it seemed to me he muttered, “Giddy-up, unicorn!”
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