I was not looking forward to my May appointment with my pulmonary guy. Any doctor stuff having to do with my lungs puts me in the throes of anticipatory anxiety because of my forty year bad habit. Actually, Dr. Flaster was not originally my pulmonary guy; he was my sleep apnea guy. I had to go to him to get a test for sleep apnea and later to get my sleep apnea cure stuff. I guess sleep apnea does involve the lungs.
He became interested though in my lungs per se when he heard about my bad habit. He ordered an extra x-ray. The problem with lung cancer—as yet no early detection. And then when I got the pneumonia he insisted on checking me out. I had an x-ray again and had to take a breathing test that turned me blue in the face and made me almost passed out. He had told me after the first x-ray that I had the start of asthma and this time he said, over a month after the pneumonia was supposed to be over, that my lungs still showed signs of the pneumonia.
I liked Dr. Flaster pretty well. I had worked to establish a rapport. The nurses said he was one of those geniuses and that he had a wicked sense of humor. He had a PhD in chemistry and was of course also an MD. I asked him if he still had time for bench work and indicated that I had a PhD myself in literature though. I figured phrases like “bench work” and PhD might make him more inclined to remember me. In fact, he took to calling me Dr. Tingle when he remembered my name at all.
My May appointed was for a final pneumonia check: x-ray again followed by a meet and greet. But of course I lost the card with my appointment time on it, so Carol called for me to find out the time, and told me to sit down, because she had just found out that Dr. Flaster had died in his sleep just two nights before. He lived alone and his dog had died just a few weeks before.
In light of my recent Job like travails, I thought, what the hell is this? What does it mean when your doctors start dying? I was glad the appointment was canceled on account of death but pissed that I would have to make another. And on top of that I would have to try to cultivate a relationship with another pulmonary person.
I wasn’t surprised though. Dr. Flaster was bald, about 5 foot four and had that Babe Ruth figure: built like a bowling ball with tooth pick legs sticking down. Also he was positively disheveled. He had this overlong belt that flapped around in front of his half pulled up fly, and his shirt kept coming out of his pants. Given his weight and my guess that he had never worked out in his life, he looked like a walking time bomb to me. And he sweated real easily too, like guys I have known who are overweight and also alcoholics.
I liked this guy. He was Jewish and they buried him right away.
Here’s looking at you Flaster, a real mench of a guy.