Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Report from Pillville: The neurologist, the geriatric specialist, the ENT
The neurologist loves to talk. Is it his way of gauging how well my mom is listening and comprehending? His way of connecting with me as my mom's advocate? "You're doing great," he told my mom more than once. "You're lucky," he told me. "Good genes." And we heard about how he lost his house, burned to the ground in 2003 in one of southern California's epic fires. I told him about my divorce and how I hated to live alone, and how it's good that my mother is now living with me. We talked about cats, and losing everything and how we like living in our new houses with their boat docks even though we don't want boats. "Get that kayak," he told me. "Good exercise." To my mom he said, "Come back in six months."
I've worried for months that no one is connecting the dots. Neurologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, primary care, vascular surgeon, podiatrist. A laundry list of medications, and still there are niggling problems that have not been addressed. This is the guy, I thought. A board certified geriatric specialist. His office jammed with teetering stacks of files, his cheeks so chubby that is eyes appeared crowded, too, an annoying front desk receptionist calling everyone "Honey." Is he looking at us....or not? He studied the list of medications. Expressed no concerns. Sent us next door to the ENT who happened to have an opening.
Maybe the coughing fits are a result of 70 years of smoking, the ENT said. Maybe allergies, but there's nothing seriously wrong, he assured. Try menthol throat lozenges. Try Claritin.
Five hours. Three doctors. A drive home along the ocean, the sky giving up its last bit of red. It was 6:00 when we got home. An hour past martini time. I diced and sliced my way into dinner. Cabbage, onions, apples sauteed in butter and wine. Roasted carrots. The last of the sausage procured for the Thanksgiving stuffing, biding its time in the freezer waiting for a winter night like this one.
The wind is blowing here in Margaritaville. Water rippling. Christmas lights twinkling. My mom's oxygen machine breathing like a benevolent Darth Vader. Me, staring out at the glistening black water.