As Your Primary Care Doctor, I Will Be Happy to See You in Three Weeks When Your Symptoms Have Passed

Though I’d love to squeeze you in for an appointment, I am no longer seeing sick patients.

When you are feeling 1000% better, we’d be happy to schedule you for your annual physical. We can also assist with minor cuts, provided there is no active bleeding. If you’re experiencing pain that rates as less than a 3 on the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, we can fit you in for a ninety-second appointment, and then refer you out to a specialist.

However, if you believe, based on your hours of middle-of-the-night Internet research, that you have an infectious disease, or if you feel so sick that you would be especially relieved to be seen by your primary care physician of the last twenty years, then we cannot see you today, tomorrow or next week.

It’s true that in every other context “primary” means first in order, or of highest importance. But words and their ordinary meanings can be misleading.

If you are old enough to remember watching sitcoms in which primary care doctors do house calls, we know it’s especially hard to shake the idea that me, your primary care doctor, is here to help when, for example, you feel like a serrated kitchen knife is being plunged into your eardrum.

To ease your adjustment to changes in the practice of modern medicine, please repeat this sentence aloud three times:

My primary care doctor is not here to help me when I am sick.

If your throat hurts too much to speak, try gargling with Listerine first. You may also say the sentence silently to yourself. If you are so sick that you can neither vocalize these words nor visualize them in your head, please definitely do not seek medical attention at our offices.

Instead, we offer the following options to deal with your pressing medical problem:

You may take Mucinex—any variation is fine because, like you, we have no idea how they differ. Hopefully, a CVS associate will emerge in the cold and flu aisle in response to your frantic pushing of the customer assistance button.
You may opt for a warm compress and incessant masturbation.
You may also go to the nearest emergency room where you will sit for twelve hours as you contract COVID, RSV, or pneumonic plague, any of which will make you forget your current ailment. Please do not list me as your primary care physician on the intake form. Dealing with hospitals is very time-consuming.
Finally, you may go to one of the urgent care clinics you visit every time you are feeling lousy, and I reject your request for a same-day appointment.

If you ever see the same doctor twice at one of these clinics, please immediately notify our office as we have a betting pool revolving around this most unlikely of scenarios. Joanne will be thrilled.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a recommendation for which urgent care clinic is best. You can Google it. We are trying to get out of the business of helping our patients in any meaningful way when they are sick.

If you decide not to choose any of these options, please do not call the office again. Marla has already called four times today to report that her forehead feels funny. She has been given the silent vegetarian appointment that we reserve for Patients Who Just Won’t Quit It.

Please know that you remain a valued patient.

That is why I am making space for you in my schedule on the second Thursday of next month, assuming we receive a cancelation.

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