Sunday, November 11, 2007

And the good news is

My doctor is wearing his surgical gear. He looks like a Guantanamo Bay inmate who got given blue instead of orange. I’ve never seen him in anything other than his usual uniform of khaki trousers, plain shirt and sober tie. It’s a bit of a shock. He looks a lot younger in his loose fitting clown pyjama get-up. As he greets me we share an awkward moment and he smiles as if to say, yeah I know I look daft. I can’t look him in the eyes. No good looking at the floor either, he’s wearing plastic sandals. This is not a good look. My doctor is not coming across like a man who saves lives for a living; more like someone who makes balloon animals at children’s parties. He directs me through a door, “We’ll go in here. It’s the room we break the bad news in.” Whoa, back up Coco, whaddaya mean the room we break the bad news in? My mind revs into action. “Take a seat, Martin.” This is it, this exactly how it happens on TV. I take in my surroundings. There’s the box of Kleenex on the coffee table. Oh God. I mentally brace myself for the worst. Next to the Kleenex is a plastic model of the intestines, to help explain things probably. I know the drill; I’ve seen Casualty. In the middle of the coffee table is the ubiquitous bunch of flowers. Come on, balloon bender, give it to me straight. Don’t pull any punches. The pictures on the walls are all generic pinks and lilacs. Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! My doctor smiles beatifically and I snap to my senses at once. There is no bad news. How could there be? I haven’t had any tests done recently. I’m not waiting for the results of anything. The ‘bad news’ room just happened to be convenient. I’m only here to pick up a new prescription and talk about swapping to different tablets. I sink back into my chair, no longer condemned. I’m lucky; I got to see the ‘bad news’ room without getting the ‘bad news’. It’s not a nice place. I know they’ve tried to make it look homely and peaceful and unscary, but for me the décor is just a bit too, well, 1989. That’s just my feelings though. Maybe psychologists somewhere have proven that 1989 is a particularly good antidote to terrible news?