I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the topic at the next staff meeting for two doctors’ offices that we visited yesterday. This is what happened:

Appointment #1

This one was partially the fault of someone who does not work there—me. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter called me at work. She was worried that her feet, each of which underwent surgery, were becoming flat again, despite the fact that she is really good about wearing her inserts. I told her that her podiatrist thought her feet looked great during her final checkup a couple of months earlier, but since she was worried, I had good news. Her dad had an appointment there that afternoon, and if she went to his place she could accompany him and be reassured.

A few hours later, she called me again from the waiting room. They won’t let me see the doctor without an appointment. I was not at all surprised. The “reception” area personnel busily screw up your records as they sit behind a pane of convoluted glass to prevent being seen. A sign often seen at the zoo that reads “Please don’t tap on the glass” completes the décor.

Just go in with your dad, I suggested.

He won’t let me. Again, I’m not surprised. I’m focusing on her worrying about possible future surgery. He’s concerned exclusively with his ingrown toenails.

Sometimes you have to be a little pushy to get what you want. When the nurses open the door, just rush in. The nurses are caring. Tell them.

This worked, except for the fact that her doctor wasn’t in the office that day. This is where it gets murky. My ex’s doctor was nice enough to examine her feet, but said that they looked flat.

Shit! How could this be? I was working toward reassurance, and now she has more to worry about. I told her that her doctor was more of the expert, and that I’d make another appointment with him, which was yesterday.

So we go in. He looks at her feet, addresses her concerns and questions, and tells her that her feet are fine. I was really proud of her, because she was being assertive, including telling him that the other doctor said her feet were flat. When she said that, his eyes flashed like he wanted to kick the guy’s ass. He explained that the nature of her anatomy is that her feet will never have the arch that many people have. I was thinking that it would be similar to me having a facelift and complaining to another cosmetic surgeon who didn’t see what I looked like pre-surgery. There’s only so much one can do. The surgery has made her feet structurally sound to support her knees, etc., even though they may look flat.

So I was caring. The nurses broke a rule for a worried patient. My daughter was assertive. The colleague was nice enough to try to help her. Her physician felt bad that his colleague upset her for no reason. None of this is anyone’s fault.

The only people who stayed out of the whole drama are the zoo animals and my ex, who grabbed the phone when my daughter called after getting her failed surgery diagnosis, and said “Doesn’t anyone care about me?” and told me all about the festering toenail edges. I cared.

Appointment #2

This was to be the last orthodontist visit! Now my daughter, after years of wearing braces and retainers during the day, would get the go-ahead to wear the retainers only at night!

During her dental checkup, her dentist attributed some tooth pain she’s been having to bruxism. How can we prevent this if she needs to wear a retainer? I wear a night guard to protect my teeth from clenching and grinding, but nobody who got braces in the 1960’s had the life sentence to wear a retainer every night after the year was up. (This is why we Baby Boomers have shifty teeth.)

Good news. The orthodontist said the night guard could be worn in lieu of the top retainer! We discussed cost and the timetable of getting one. Then he and the assistant left while she prepared the materials to take the impression.

Suddenly, the assistant with the chair at the end of the main room comes barreling into our room:

If you wear a night guard, you’ll have to wear the upper retainer during the day.


Because you’re wearing the night guard at night, and you need time to wear the top retainer.

For how long?


He said I could wear the night guard instead of the retainer.


I’ll have to wear my retainer during the day for my whole life?


Forget it then. I don’t want the night guard. She was almost in tears.

After leaving her bad news, End of the Row Assistant leaves the room as fast as she entered.

I’ll find out what’s going on. I told my daughter. Our assistant was already standing at the door.

That one at the end, she came in and said…

I know. I’ll get Dr. C.

Dr. C. clearly assured us that the original plan was fine: wear the night guard at night with the lower retainer and just her teeth during the day.

I could tell the other assistant really believed that her advice was on target. She was trying to help.

But, to quote my daughter, “She happened to be a crazy motherf***er so that was beside the point.”

And she is the patient.