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off the beaten path


Yesterday we had a doctor's appointment for the baby downtown. My husband joined us because I wasn't quite sure where the hospital was. So we tooled on down there and promptly parked in the wrong place. Apparently there is a large hospital on West Grand Blvd. and, to make things more interesting, there is also a Medical Center on West Grand Blvd. Yes, they are both Henry Ford Medical buildings.

So we headed up to the eighth floor in the wrong hospital to find out we were supposed to be down the street four blocks. Good thing we left the stroller in the car. I'm sure I got a good cardio workout carrying a 25 lbs. kid four blocks in 83 degree heat. I was certainly sweating by the time we got into the exam room.

Anyway, this was a pediatric neurologist our pediatrician recommended since our daughter walked late and was having difficulty with speech. Basically the speech problem was due to numerous ear infections that required tubes be put in her ears last month. Since she has had the tubes in she has really started to learn more words and speak more clearly. What I thought, and what the neurologist said, was that she seems fine and her speech delay is due to the hearing/tubes issue. She should catch up in the next six months.

Okay, so this is the first time I have had a doctor walk in the exam room carrying an icy cold 20-ounce Diet Coke. He set it on the counter, sat on the stool with wheels and started asking questions. Occasionally he stopped, took a swig, screwed the lid back on and resumed questioning. I thought that was weird. Also, it seems like the doctors we see at the Medical Centers don't wear white lab coats anymore. I wonder if that's a way to bridge the authority gap and make patients feel more comfortable. I half thought to myself, regarding this neurologist with the Diet Coke and no lab coat, are you really a doctor?

It's funny, the weather was so warm -- I think it hit 83 yesterday -- my husband and I felt like we were on vacation. We got some peanuts, popcorn and juice on our way out of the doctor's office and jumped on the shuttle bus that travels between the two Henry Ford Medical buildings. Strange how normally I would never allow my baby to ride without a seatbelt or a car seat, but when it's hot and we're looking at a four-block trek with no stroller riding unbuckled doesn't seem like such a problem after all.

When we got back to the original hospital the shuttle arrived at the back of the hospital so we had to walk through the main floor out to the front where the parking lot was. As we meandered through the halls we passed a number of patients and I noticed one man in particular.

He was in front of us and he had nice brown dress pants and brown dress shoes on with a matching leather belt. He also had a light blue hospital gown on with the ties hanging wide open in the back. He did not have a shirt on; he must have been at the hospital for outpatient testing and was walking from one place to the next. Anyway, the hospital gown was just resting on the outer reaches of his shoulders and he was walking slowly, confidently with good posture.

It was such an odd sight. Normally I would think one would be self-conscious about showing flesh out in public, especially dressed up in those pants and shoes. I imagine he must have had a long sleeved dress shirt and tie that he left behind. When someone is dressed up like that he conveys a certain message and it was an interesting disconnect in the message minus the shirt.

It was also intriguing watching his body language. He was very confident yet not quite cocky. He had somewhere to go and was walking there regardless of what the outer wrappings looked like. I suppose that's an example of confidence emanating from the inside out. I suppose it was strange since he was vulnerable yet confident at the same time. Whatever the case, it was captivating in an off-beat kind of way and made the walk to the car that much more interesting.


2007-03-28 at 6:57 a.m.

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