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Short pieces on a new theme every month
 
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This month...
  Prostate Blues
 
 
I have vivid memories of the HIP (Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York, a prepaid health plan) waiting room on East 23rd Street in Manhattan, which I often visited as an elementary school child. I most remember two things about that room: the magazines, and the anticipation of a possible shot.

The magazines were piles of old New Yorkers. I couldn't begin to make sense of the writing, but I loved the cartoons, whose captions I could make sense of. Combing the magazines for cartoons was a happy treasure hunt--like poking through Cracker Jacks looking for the coated peanuts.

As much as I enjoyed the magazines, the thought that I might be getting a shot could ruin my pleasure. In those days needles were sterilized and re-used, which meant that they were often dull. I was a sensitive child, and those shots hurt--especially the dreaded tetanus booster.

I liked my two pediatricians, Dr. Temerson, who died young, and then Dr. Stone, who was bald and wore glasses. If, during the visit, they told my mother that I needed a shot, she'd lead her child, now scared and miserable, back to the same waiting room. But now I couldn't concentrate on the magazines. Instead, I begged and wheedled uncontrollably, a routine that never accomplished anything. When it came to shots, my mother, usually a kind and empathetic woman, had a heart of stone.

A no-nonsense nurse, dressed in white, gave the shots. She had little patience for my terror and little sympathy for my tears. After the deed was done, she'd offer me a lollipop. The lollipop was good, but if the nurse thought it would help me forget the torture I'd suffered, she was wrong.

Paul Gross
New Rochelle, New York

Comments   

# Colleen Fogarty 2016-05-01 14:49
Bravo Paul! I LOVE the child's perspective on the New Yorker, especially the affinity for the cartoons!
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Encounters

mainencounterspicWe are proud to announce Encounters, our latest feature. Patients talk about their healthcare experiences, share stories about their lives outside the doctor's office and reflect on how these two worlds affect one other.

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