well, i saw a specialist for my elbow today. in five weeks i will have an injection. we shall see.
the entire process was much as you might imagine. i started at the check-in desk, where a nice lady asked me my name and date of birth [to make sure i was not trying to cadge some free care] and xeroxed my medicare card and my supplementary insurance card. then i sat down and waited until another young woman came out of a door with a folder in her hand and called my name. she led me to an examination room where she checked my list of medications and left. ten minutes later a very young orthopedic resident came in and went through a long series of little tests to determine exactly what is wrong with me. she opined that i do NOT have tennis elbow, but might have one of several other problems. then she left, saying she was sorry for my pain [very nice, i thought], and that THE doctor would be in to see me shortly. forty minutes later, in he came, marginally older and very cheerful. after another examination of the offending appendage, he said the next step would be an injection. it could be done today, he said, but without ultrasound they might not get the right spot. after a brief meditation, i elected to wait for the super-specialist with the ultrasound, even though that might not be until the new year [he is very busy].
during the forty minute wait to see THE doctor i got to thinking about how different his professional routine is from the one with which i had become familiar during fifty years of teaching. i began to day-dream about how it all might have been different....
i arrived at my office for the day, changed in the antechamber into my regulation grey tweed jacket, clipped a red pen and a black pen to my breast pocket, and entered my office. the first undergraduate had come to her appointment half an hour earlier, presenting her student id at the front desk. she was there because of a persistent tendency to assume that merely because b comes after a, be is caused by a. the doctors call it post hoc syndrome, short for post hoc ergo propter hoc. after a brief wait, a doctoral student came into the waiting room and called the student's name. he led her into the examination area, paused to measure her skill at syllogistics, and took her into an examination room, where he administered a spot quiz and said someone would be in to see her shortly. after fifteen minutes, an assistant professor knocked on the door , entered, and introduced herself. she asked how long the condition had existed. was the student also inclined to commit the fallacy of the excluded middle. did she have difficulty distinguishing use and mention. she made some notes on the student's permanent record and left.
some while later, after reviewing the notes of the graduate student and the assistant professor, i knocked and entered. the student, to my practiced eye, presented as a fairly typical confused sophomore. i asked her, on a scale of one to ten, how confused she thought she was. then i prescribed two chapters of a logic textbook with associated exercises, and told her to return in four weeks. however, if she noticed herself begging the question, i wanted her to go immediately to the lounge at the philosophy department.
it was a typical day. i saw eight undergraduates in the morning, and spent the afternoon dissecting a doctoral dissertation. i had lunch with a traveler for a publisher who was trying to get me to switch to his firm's ethics textbook. i told him i would consider it if he would give me a regular supply of fresh syllogisms.