The Substitute Doctor

And you are?

And you are?

I went to see the substitute doctor this week. The waiting room was packed with familiar patients but the man doing the diagnosing was somebody new. I’m sure he was fully qualified but you never see the fill-in guy’s degree hanging anywhere for inspection.

They call the substitute doctor a locum. This is short for locum tenens, a latin/old French/English term that goes back into the mists of the Norman conquest and, I believe,  means ‘He who may giggle at your bits‘. It doesn’t much matter what it means, there are certain problems that I don’t take to the physician who’s pinch-hitting.  Unless it’s an issue with a hand or a foot, there’s no way I’m letting the locum get a look at any other appendage.

The first time the substitute doctor casts eyes on you is when he walks through the examining room door with your chart in his hands. He doesn’t know your life story. He doesn’t have time to hear about your kids or your golf swing. (Not that your regular doctor does, but at least he plays the game.)

You need a reservoir of trust in a doctor before you let them wander south of the border. The irony, of course, is that there’s nothing new down there for them. They’ve seen it all. But they may not have seen yours, and dammit, yours is special, isn’t it? You’re saving the lower forty for a doctor you know.

The substitute doctor is just as proficient at writing a prescription as any other. But if those hands are going into a pair of gloves, I’m waiting for more familiar digits.


One Response to “The Substitute Doctor”

  1. All the regular Doctors here in my little town have pretty well retired.We are regulated to a revolving door of locums now. Not that were not grateful ,at least we have doctors, but ,no longer is there a patient /doctor , bond.

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