Charlie Brown, M.D.Posted: January 31, 2015
Last weekend, my wife’s mom took a nasty spill on some ice. This reinforces my position that ice is nothing but trouble when we let it exist outside of a cup or cooler.
Anyhow, the nasty spill led to a broken leg. The break led to an ambulance ride, which led to hospitalization and ultimately, surgery.
The day before the surgery, my mother in law was visited in the hospital by one of the physicians on staff. We’ll call that doctor, Doctor B.
After the surgery, Doctor B’s partner, Doctor A, came by to check on her. Because she’d been seen by so many doctors, when Doctor A spoke of his “associate who saw her yesterday”, she didn’t know which physician he was talking about. Doctor A settled the question by describing his associate:
“He’s a middle-aged guy, balding, with a big moon face. He looks like Charlie Brown.”
It happened that I was in the hospital room when Doctor A gave that description of his partner. I had a laugh and put the matter out of my mind – until the next day.
And Then The Next Day Came
The next day, I stopped at the hospital for a visit. As I entered the room I saw someone in a lab coat standing at the bed. I quickly began to back out, but the doctor spotted me and called out “no, come on in, it’s ok”.
I walked in. There, next to my mother-in-law’s bed, was a man in a lab coat. The name embroidered on the coat was Doctor B, but the shocking part was that the man in it looked just as he’d been described – Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comic strip. He had the big moon face that Doctor A had described and he was nearly bald. He even had a small tuft of hair where his original hairline had been.
Charlie Brown went on to discuss my mother-in-law’s condition with her, while giving me that look that doctors give hospital visitors that means “I know she’s not going to remember this, please relay what I’m saying to the rest of the family”. I gave Charlie Brown the look that says “I’ll handle it, I’m a responsible adult. Keep talking”.
Doctor Charlie Brown kept talking.
Was He Expecting Too Much? Probably.
But I was not a responsible adult.
I was a child who was completely fascinated by this man’s resemblance to Charlie Brown.
While I should have been listening, I was thinking about what life might be like for this obviously successful man who looked like Charles Shultz’ comic protagonist. Did he have a beagle? Did his medical school instructors use actual words or did everything they say sound like “wah wah, wah wah”?
I stayed lost in my reverie until I realized that Doctor B was walking past me and saying goodbye as he headed off to continue his rounds. I’d caught only the barest impression of what he’d explained. I missed the meat of what he’d said.
Going to my wife’s family without meat wasn’t going to look good. I stopped the doctor and started firing questions, asking him to elaborate on the few concepts that I managed to remember. He kept answering and I asked questions based on his answers. Around the time he started giving me the look that means “did you listen to anything I said the first time?”, I felt as if I had enough of a handle on the situation to do the matter and myself justice.
I let the doctor get on to his next patient before I had to admit that his Peanuts character looks had distracted me.
Days later, I struggle not to grin when Doctor B’s name comes up, and he comes up quite a bit under the circumstances. The last thing my father-in-law needs on his mind is the quality of care his wife is getting.
But, strictly between us, this poor woman’s doctor is a blockhead.