Urgent Care

July 1, 2011

There’s this thing with my ear. For the past two weeks, the whole side of my face…it just hurts. I thought about seeing a dentist, but why would my face hurt from a bad tooth?

The Nordic Warrior Queen said I’m just fishing for sympathy so I can get lucky. Then she laid out the whole giving birth, crapping out a watermelon story for the hundredth time, reiterating her belief that all men are babies. I attempted the “you try going to war and getting your ass shot off” defense, but it was an empty argument; aside from that one time in 10th grade, I’ve never had a fight.

Finally, after I passed out from the pain, she admitted there might be a problem. Then she said that if I was going to see a doctor, I’d better do it right away so it wouldn’t ruin the weekend.  Thanks a lot.

Since I had to leave my regular doctor behind in Tucson, I Googled “best pain free doctors Phoenix” and found a clinic a few blocks from my condo. The sign on the door said Urgent Care, but there wasn’t anything very urgent about the place; it was Friday afternoon, and I was the only patient. Weird.

After I filled out thirty pages of admission forms, the nurse brought me to a room the size of a broom closet. She took my blood pressure, my pulse and temperature, and then asked me all the same questions I’d just answered on the paperwork. “Just sit tight, love,” she said. “Dr. Hurt will be right in, ” and closed the door.

What? Dr Hurt! I had to get out of there.

Luckily, there on the back wall by the ceiling was a tiny window  – maybe I could escape . But just as I was pulling the chair over, the door swung open. A tall man with piercing blue eyes and wavy blonde hair stood there; he was easily in his late eighties, and wore a white lab coat with the letters HURT stenciled in blood red above the pocket.

It was him. Dr. Hurt. He looked suspiciously at the chair, then turned his knowing gaze on me. “Hallo, young man,” he said in a heavy German accent. “Vat seems to be zee problem today?”

With those cold eyes, that voice, his hands like iron, I knew immediately: Dr. Hurt was a Nazi doctor. He must have escaped Germany, and relocated to Phoenix after the war.

Reluctant now, I described my symptoms. Nodding like he’d heard it all a million times before, he slipped on a pair of latex gloves with practiced ease, then proceeded to jab an otoscope deep into my ears, my nose. Ouch. “You open ze mouth,” he said, and began to poke and pinch my gums, my teeth, the inside of my cheek. I could taste blood.

Apparently satisfied that he’d caused enough pain, he reached beneath the examination table and slid open a drawer. A quick glance confirmed my suspicions – it was chock full of torture devices. Shiny clamps and  pliers, sharp cutters, large and small retractors, trocars and cannulae. This guy was ready for anything.

Suddenly, he pulled out a hammer and a long wooden stick. Jesus, the old kraut thought I was a vampire! “You open ze mouth…now.”

I shook my head no. I was counting the steps to the door, plotting my escape.

It was as if he could read my mind. “Come now. All vill be okay.” Begrudgingly, I opened my mouth, knowing he had me trapped. Slowly, he placed the end of the stick against one of my lower molars and, with quick raps of the hammer, began to systematically pound on each of my teeth. “Iss zat hurting?”

What the hell was this? Of course it hurt. “Mmmmhhmmhhhmmm!” Anything to make him stop.

He tossed the hammer on the counter and, grabbing the top of my head, buried his index finger to the second knuckle into the skin underneath my jaw. “AAAAAAAHHH!”

As I sat struggling to breathe, my eyes filling with tears, he stepped back and stripped off his rubber gloves. “I theenk you must haff an infection in ze jaw. I vant you to go home and suck on ze lemons. Ziss will draw off zee bad poi-suns. Then you take some pills I giff you. Isst goot?”

“Yes, yes. Whatever you want.” I could barely speak.

“And you must drink plenty of fluids now, yah?”

I nodded my head. Gladly. “Yah. I will.”

He stared at me for a moment before handing me the prescription. Surely he suspected that I knew his secret. At last, he opened the door. “You haff a nice day now.”

As I hurried out the front door, I heard him talking to the nurse. “That young man, he iss a bigg baby, yah? Like all American men.”

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