Who Needs Bedside Manner?

When I came down with a fever a few weeks ago and just couldn’t shake the sinus congestion that followed, I headed to the doctor I just recently started seeing. I had a pretty strange interaction with him a few months ago during my first visit, and this latest visit surely has to be my last. Here are some great highlights of the visit:

 “With that hair you’ve got, I’m going to start calling you Johnny Weir.”

Not me

Let me be clear that my hair nor any other aspect of my appearance even remotely resembles Johnny Weir. Apparently the mere fact that I’m a gay man means my doctor has the right to equate me with the most ostentatious homosexual he sees in the public eye. I’m not betraying some personal distaste for the celebrity persona that Weir has constructed for himself; while I find him mildly irritating at times, he pushes all of us to question the various components of gender identity. His antics certainly would place in him a long line of celebrated figures if he were a woman, but based on my doctor’s comments below, he probably feels that Weir is the type of gay who shouldn’t be given a voice, and since during my two visits to this learned man he’s brought up my role as a gay male educator, I have to question the parallels he’s drawing and whether he’s subtly suggesting that I am on the Johnny Weir of our local high school, a school he’s constantly reminding me that his children will one day attend.

I’ve got a feeling your politics are way to the left and mine are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

This was only my second visit with this man, the first one lasting about twenty minutes. In that short time, he has apparently intuited my political perspective, probably enumerating in his mind the items on my gay agenda that he opposes. And even if I am politically what he assumes me to be, it doesn’t really put me at ease to have my doctor suggest that he opposes many of my personal views.

You’ve got to be really careful; you can’t be seen hugging a male student.

As a high school English teacher, I believe there are seldom occasions when my students need a hug, but the insinuation here is that clearly any physical contact between me and a male student would be tantamount to molestation. Apparently, my doctor thinks I’m free and clear to get up close and personal with my female students.

I mean, you must have been bullied in school right?

Not me either

No sir, in fact, I wasn’t bullied in school. I had a great time in high school. I lots of open and affirming friends who accepted for who I am. Sure, I struggled with my sexuality, and like many gay people, my friends figured it out long before I was ready to admit it, but no one belittled me because of my perceived or actual sexuality. No one stole my lunch money. In fact, I was elected to study body leadership, ran several clubs on campus, and supported by peers when I was outspoken in class. Growing up LGBT is still a tremendous struggle and there are lots of things we as a society can do to ease the process of coming out for adolescents, but don’t assume that everyone gay person was harassed by the quarter back of the football team and shoved in dumpsters after school.

This guy clearly does anything but set me at ease as a patient. His constant assumptions, insinuations, and generally inappropriate behavior leave me feeling tense and nervous. At this point, I barely remember the way he worked in these horrible suggestions and questions, and I’m hopeful that my attempts to act unperturbed worked in my favor. Perhaps I’ll work up the nerve to write a terse letter once I find a new doctor, although I’m sure it will do little to change the way this man feels about himself and the poor chumps who walk into his office.


3 thoughts on “Who Needs Bedside Manner?

  1. That is bizarre. I have the image in my mind of how I’d react to someone saying those things to me, but in reality I’d probably be so flabbergasted, I wouldn’t realize how angry I was until I was home from the appointment. You definitely need a new doctor!

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