My guy's going in a 'New Direction' 

HE'S ABOUT the age of my oldest son, so I was confident he'd be around a long time... I liked him a lot and I really think he liked me.

We had a lot in common, trusted each other. We had long talks, laughed at lot and did little favors for each other.

The difference in our ages didn’t matter. It was reassuring to know that, whatever happened, he’d be there. He’d say, “If you need anything, call me.”

We’ve been together quite a while, too. About six years. Our mutual friend, Don, introduced us. “You’ll really be glad you’ve done this. The two of you will get along well.”

But it’s over. It all happened so fast and I’m still terribly sad, feel so vulnerable. I know I’ve talked about it too much. Obsessed about it.

It’s melodramatic, I know, to say I feel betrayed. But I really do. I understand that he’s doing what he thinks he has to do. And I wish him well.

I learned that we were going to have to break up over the phone. Cold, it seemed to me. I tried to call him back, desperately. Busy, busy, busy.

So I call our friend, Don. “It’s true. I’m sorry. I heard about it a few days ago. It’s really true.”

He’s my doctor. My insurance company calls him my “primary care physician.”

The phone call was a recorded message, the kind I got from John Barrow and other politicians before the general election. My doctor identified himself and said he was going to practice medicine in an exciting new way.

He told me I’d be receiving a letter from him that would invite me to a meeting to hear about his new direction. He mentioned a toll-free number I could call. That and his office number were busy for days, hence my call to Don. I did, finally, reach the toll free number and a very nice, patient lady explained, in detail, the “New Direction.”

Patient Lady outlined all the ways in which the New Direction would benefit me. Doctor is going to limit his practice to 600 patients. (Like QVC, will it be the first 600 to call?)

One can always get an appointment to see the doctor within 24 hours. One will be able to spend as much time, during that appointment, as one feels is required to really get personal attention.

She went on to list other really desirable features of the New Direction. She then explained that to be a member of the New Direction would cost me $1500 a year.

Not for office visits, treatments, lab work: all that will continue to “cost what it costs.” No, the $1500 is just for the opportunity to be a member of the New Direction.

It’s called concierge medicine. Sometimes it’s called boutique medicine. My friend Joan in Atlanta tells me a number of doctors, especially the good ones, in Atlanta have already taken the New Direction. Does that mean that, if you don’t have the annual membership fee, you’ll have to settle for a kinda good one? Or a so-so one? In this scary economy, is this another worry that we are going to confront?

It’s a really great deal. He’s an absolutely splendid doctor. He’s a diagnostician without peer. He’s a real advocate for your health and well being.

I had a botched surgery, by another physician, and he was an absolutely indignant tiger in getting it straightened out. He phoned me, many evenings, to be sure I was going to be OK.

He really listens, is patient and kind. He inspires confidence that, no matter what, he’ll be there – and will take care of you.

Thing is, I don’t have $1500 to join the New Direction. If I did, I probably would.

I’ll miss the hug that I’d always get at the end of the office visit. I’ll miss the jokes. I’ll miss the calls to help him arrange a tour guide in Venice.

I’ll miss the enthusiasm with which he approaches life. I’ll miss the sense of security that came with knowing that he was “my doctor.”

I’ve already signed that document that permits your medical records to float around town. I’ve found a new doctor, one who comes highly recommended and seems competent and nice.

I’ve visited his office a couple of time and even been permitted to see him once. I can tell, though. I can tell it’ll never be the same.

It’s always that way, isn’t it? If you lose someone who has been really significant in your life, someone you love: it’s never quite the same.

God, I’ll miss him. cs


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Rebecca Herdman

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