Ah, spring break. The time of year where frat bros from Delta Apple Cinnamon traverse across the world drinking, while those with some sense visit their physicians to ensure a clean bill of health. While my friends go to their gynecologists and gastroenterologists, I stick with my pediatrician. She has been treating me since the age of 3, so why change things up now? As I arrive to my pediatrician’s office for a routine check-up, I proceed to sign in. The receptionist smiles and asks me, “Which child are you signing in for sir?” I quickly shake my head and declare that I am the patient. “Oh,” she responds, “well then have a seat.”
I sit down on a bright pink chair with a cartoon smiley face plastered on it and quietly scroll through Twitter while I wait to be called in. As I glance around, I quickly notice that I am the only patient over the age of 10 in the room. The blaring television above me is playing an obnoxious Disney show I have never heard of. Where’s “Lizzie McGuire?” How do children cope without “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody?” The patient door opens and my old high school biology teacher steps out with her child. “Patrick!”, she exclaims. “It’s so nice to see you… at the pediatrician’s office,” she says in a slight murmur.
“Yeah, I’m just here checking in on things,” I say. She nods, confused as to why a former student goes to the same doctor as her six-year-old. “It was nice seeing you though,” she says as she walks out of the office, shaking her head.
A child runs out of one of the patient rooms screaming about not wanting to get a shot. Another seems to think the magazines settled nicely on the table are meant to be thrown and ripped apart. The toddler next to me peers over to look at my phone and then proceeds to sneeze onto it! I jump back in horror and rush to get a tissue while the mom sits idly by, rapidly speaking into her Blackberry.
After attempting to recover from the children surrounding me, I hear the nursing assistant call my name. I proceed to sit in the patient room, awash in Disney princess designs and bright-turquoise colors. The height chart next to me does not go past five feet, and while I am a small-sized adult, I still felt uncomfortable in the child-sized patient chair. My pediatrician, the wonderful Dr. Thomas, rushes in minutes later. She apologizes for the wait and asks me how college is going. Before answering, I ask, “Dr. Thomas. I’ve known you a long time, and I have to ask, am I too old to be seeing a pediatrician?”
After a long pause and a sigh, she replies “Well Patrick, you’re allowed to go until you’re 23, but as you can probably see, not a lot of adults see pediatricians. It might be best to find an adult practitioner. I’ll miss seeing you though.” My eyes begin to water. Did I do something wrong? Is she tired of my constant questions about why my ear hurts after I sneeze? I don’t want to leave her and have to go to a doctor that won’t give me SpongeBob Band-Aids.
Dr. Thomas notices my distress. She continues, “I know this may be shocking and I promise it’s not you; it’s me. You need to find another doctor that will tell you if you have chlamydia or if you need a colonoscopy.” Did she really just say that? She did. I nod. I mean, I knew this would happen eventually. We had been growing apart ever since the flu epidemic of 2012. I just didn’t think it would be today. I thought we’d still have more time together.
Dr. Thomas says, “You’re the last one in the family, Patrick. Megan left the practice months ago to get that nasty mole removed, and your mother barely answers my Christmas cards anymore. It’s time to move on.”
I knew it would be okay, but adult doctors are just not the same. They have AARP magazines and decrepit senior citizens that call you kiddo. They barely ask you how things are going or crack jokes about your failing love life.
I proceed to get up, and she asks if I would like a sticker. “I don’t think any sticker could cheer me up today,” I reply. As the receptionist asks me if I would like to schedule a follow-up appointment, I choke back a sob and run out of the office, never to visit again.