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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Waiting to be called in for a consult

It’s probably not the same as actually having a medical degree.

But if you spend enough time in doctors’ waiting rooms, you start to imagine that you possess skills as a diagnostician. And this is not an unusual development in Spokane, where cooling your heels in medical waiting rooms is one of the leading local pastimes for a certain demographic.

Back when my wife and I were taking my parents to Spokane doctors’ appointments with calendar clogging regularity, I believe I became rather adept at spotting a whole range of medical conditions in the waiting room.

Oh, I didn’t impose my opinions on strangers, if that’s what you are wondering.

I didn’t sidle up to others in the waiting room and say, “You know, you really need to get this hypertension under control.”

I didn’t lean toward the guy seated next to me and say, “I’m concerned about your rheumy eyes … could be a number of things … I think we need to run some tests.”

No, I have faith in Spokane’s medical community. I trust that the men and women who are actual doctors can figure out what’s wrong with us and help us get better. Well, most of the time.

Still, it was frustrating to never be called back for a consultation. I mean, I did spend more time with many of those people in the waiting rooms than the doctors did.

It got to be sort of a fantasy. All the physician would have to do is ask.

“Mr. Turner, you’ve had a chance to observe Mr. Bojack up close for about 45 minutes out in the waiting room. Have you any findings to share?”

I could have offered a valuable liberal arts perspective, in one of several forms.

1) “Yes, Mr. Bojack appears to be trippin’, man. But if he doesn’t stop smoking, I don’t even see why you bother with him.”

2) “Why don’t we just keep an eye on it.”

3) “Whatever happened to people having colds? When did everyone start assuming they’ve always got the flu? Are colds no longer dramatic enough?”

4) “I know Mr. Bojack is complaining of a rash, but I’m thinking he needs an MRI. Stat.”

5. “I had a chance to observe the patient in the waiting room and I suspect a strict marijuana regimen will cure what’s ailing him. Or at least make him forget about it.”

Today’s Slice question: How does your cat help your kids or grandkids with their homework?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Has anyone ever seen you and your cousin and begun singing the “Patty Duke Show” theme?

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