Season’s Greetings

By Howard J. Bennett, MD

Dear Friends:

We are pleased to begin a new tradition this year—sending out Christmas greetings to our patients. We’re sure that you will find this holiday letter a vast improvement over most of the communications you receive from this office—you know, bills and all those nasty missives threatening to call a collection agency. But let’s not dredge up old business at a time like this. Today, we want to concentrate on the love that binds us.

Unfortunately, while we’d like to send a personal note to each of you, we’re too busy spending our hard earned cash to accomplish such a lofty goal. Instead, we have decided to send out a form letter like everyone else. And don’t forget—holiday letters, like fruitcake, are the glue that holds dysfunctional families together.

As the year rolls to a close, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’d also be very grateful if the person (or persons) who took the coat rack from the waiting room would be so kind as to return it before the New Year begins. No questions will be asked, and we promise to turn off the surveillance cameras during the long holiday break.

Some of you may have noticed that Dr. Bob has been strangely absent for the past few months. Well, we’re happy to report that he’s doing very well at the rehab center, and his doctors tell us he’ll be home before the spring thaw. This warms our overworked hearts because we miss Dr. Bob a great deal—and he better be ready to pay us back for all the extra night-call we’ve been saddled with during his absence.

Our receptionist Myra is back after her surprise encounter with a toy poodle named Lucy. The dog—all nine pounds of her—clamped down on Myra’s ankle as she came into the office with a chocolate chip cookie in one hand and a Double Mocha Latte Surprise in the other. As Myra bent down to pet the pooch, no small feat in itself, the pup got spooked and lunged for her leg. When Lucy got a hold of Myra’s ankle, she screamed (Myra, not Lucy) and began shaking her leg through the air with the dog still attached. Imagine a cross between Winston Churchill and Bruce Lee on steroids and you’ll have an idea of what it looks like when a shocked, 187-pound woman tries to shake a 9-pound dog off her leg.

Lucy’s family testified that their pooch was abused by its previous owner and the smell of coffee and chocolate caused a flashback, which lead to the attack. It was the first time anyone successfully used an insanity defense with a dog. Although Myra now only drinks tea at work, we’d appreciate it if our patients refrain from bringing their pets to the office, even if they’re cuter than their real children.

Dr. Ron turned 50 this year and grudgingly agreed to get his first colonoscopy. He declined general anesthesia because he wanted to “experience” the procedure. When Dr. Ron made some suggestions on how the specialist could get into the last part of his large intestine, the GI doc asked Dr. Ron if he would like to do the procedure himself. Realizing he may have gone a bit too far, our chagrined colleague said no, at which point he kept his mouth shut so everyone could enjoy the rest of the colonoscopy in peace.

Dr. Emily continues to set records in her ability to manage a full-time practice, the rigors of raising two active boys, and keeping up with a menagerie of pets. At last count, the Smith-Piffenberger family is home to one dog, three rabbits, one budgerigar, and two guinea pigs, one of whom is allegedly pregnant. We don’t know how she does it, but we’re glad she does.

The prize for the most interesting diagnosis this year goes to Dr. Sydney who nailed a case of restless leg syndrome when he evaluated an executive who came to the office complaining of fatigue. Luckily for the patient, Dr. Sydney has a thing for nicely shaped legs and he couldn’t take his eyes off the patient’s wife, a 28-year-old graduate student, who accompanied her sleep-deprived husband to the appointment. Despite their lovely shape, the woman’s legs were dotted with bruises running from mid-thigh to her gorgeous calves. When queried, the woman told Dr. Sydney she had no idea where the bruises came from, adding that they appeared almost by magic when she arose in the morning. Dr. Sydney made his diagnosis and the grateful couple limped happily from the office.

So ends another year at our homey clinic. Have a wonderful holiday season and don’t forget our golden rule:

Although our docs are always late,

The care you get is really great!

© 2012 Howard J. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

(First published in Stitches, The Journal of Medical Humor December 2002.)

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