They are called doctors, nurses, corpsmen, surgeons, general practitioners…but collectively they are all known as doc. They have a certain power over us – maybe it has something to do with the fact that most of them are smart, but mostly, I think, it is because they can hurt us whenever they want.
And by hurt I mean they can kill us.
In the field or on deployment they are revered, of course. A Navy Corpsman never buys his or her own beer if there is a Marine in the room. Overseas they are often the only medical presence at all.
But there is still an unmistakable unease that permeates the doctor’s examination room when you sit there alone, half-clothed and afraid as you await your fate.
The thing about exams is that the absolute best news you could possibly get is that nothing has changed. There is no good news at the doctor’s office. There are only various shades of bad news, and your only hope is that the bad news is not too bad.
I once had a technician tell me that she saw an irregularity in my pre-surgery EKG, but that I shouldn’t worry because the anesthesiologist felt that I was good to go for surgery. When I asked what the problem was, she referred me to my regular doctor and refused to answer any questions. “No big deal”, I thought. At least is wasn’t a vital organ.
If you are wondering why my sudden fixation on the medical profession, it is difficult to say for sure, but for whatever reason the docs have been on my mind of late.
In retrospect, it could have something to do with tomorrow’s schedule.