Dr. Dubious

When a doctor doesn’t believe you, prepare for frustration

Q: What’s the difference between God and a doctor?

A: God doesn’t think he’s a doctor!

Now, to be fair, I’ve had many wonderful medical professionals in my life. But that joke had to have been written about the guy I saw for help with my egg allergy.

It took me a while to figure out the problem. Someone would bring cake to work and my mouth would feel hot after eating. The day I ate a plate of scrambled eggs and my son found me in agony, the question was answered once and for all.

My throat starts to close and there’s pain in my mouth. The irritation moves down my chest, then into my stomach where it settles for a couple hours and, as a kindness, I will spare you the rest.

Friends and family know that I can always tell if something has eggs. It’s not as much fun as pulling a quarter from somebody’s ear but it’s my parlor trick.

York peppermint patties, all cakes, and premium ice cream contain eggs. Brioche and aioli are bad words at my house and anything breaded is suspect.

One of my favorite sights is my husband running his finger down a list of ingredients in the grocery store. Our friends have us over and proudly announce, “These cookies have no eggs!” If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

An EpiPen is used in case of an allergy emergency and the first one (which, thankfully, I never had to use) had expired so it was time to go to the doctor’s office.

I do the waiting, the magazine-reading, and answer “yes” to the nurse who asks “Mrs. Smith, are you ready?” Just once I’d like to say, “Well, no, I’m finishing this fascinating article about Brad Pitt” but I never do.

Doctor breezes in and asks, “What brings you here today?” That’s the last moment where this visit resembles any I’ve had before.

“I have an egg allergy,” I dutifully answer and he snaps, “You think you do.” I’m taken aback but think maybe he didn’t understand so I say, “I have trouble swallowing after eating anything with eggs.” He repeats: “You think you do.”

I try again. “No,” I say, “My throat closes up if I swallow any egg.” Predictably, he answers, “You think it does.” How unlucky do I have to be to get the only allergy doctor in the world who doesn’t believe in allergies?

By this point, he’s annoying me but I need that prescription so I have to go along with his game, a fact of which we are both fully aware. Then he tops himself by saying: “I’ll bet I could get you to eat eggs without knowing it.” I laugh nervously and pray we’re nearly done here.

He goes on: “Want to bet $1,000? I could use the money.” I mumble something about not wanting to bet but just needing that medicine. He seems disappointed I won’t play along but I honestly have no idea what he wants me to say.

Was he flirting with me (the old “she’s cute when she’s angry” routine)? Did I remind him of someone he hates? Was this his way of entertaining himself? Beats me. I left angry and humiliated but got the prescription I’d come for.

I was still feeling upset with him putting me through that and annoyed with myself for not handling the situation like a self-assured adult woman. So imagine my surprise when I opened my email to find this: “Dear Mrs. Smith, You recently had an appointment at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic. Would you take a short survey regarding your care?”

You bet I would! I’ve no idea where that information went but I like to imagine somebody’s eyes widening at my story of this bizarre, creepy doctor. I want to think I spared someone else the intimidation I endured. Sadly, I’ll never know if there were repercussions but it was surely the most satisfying questionnaire I’m ever likely to be offered.

Before long I’ll have to again replace my EpiPen. Know any good allergy doctors?

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