After one traffic jam, near bloodshed over who got the good parking spot and two elevator rides, I blew into the doctor’s office with a miraculous minute to spare. I waited 39 minutes before they took me back.
After repeating my symptoms, social security number and mother’s maiden name for the receptionist, lab tech, nurse, nurse’s assistant and janitor, the doctor finally arrived.
“So, Karen, what seems to be the problem?” Have you ever noticed that doctors, even ones younger than you or ones that you’ve never met, can call you by your first name, but you have to call them Dr. So and So?
“Well, Doctor So and So, if you read the chart you’d see why I’m here.”
“Pardon me? Your voice is rather hoarse, have you been talking a lot lately? You know, you really shouldn’t strain your vocal chords that way. Open your mouth and say ‘Ahh’”
“I’m not here for my throat.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Your waiting room always has the latest issue of Car & Driver magazine. Besides, I think something’s wrong with my tear ducts.”
Grabbing his penlight he asked, “Are they clogged?”
“Just the opposite; they seem to be overactive.”
“Uh huh, and how long has this been going on?”
“Ten and a half years. But it’s gotten noticeably worse in the past several months.”
“I see. Say, Karen, How old is your youngest child?”
Ten and a half.
“That would make her in fifth grade, right?”
“And she’s probably been talking a lot about going to middle school soon. Right?”
The doctor sat on the stool and wheeled over, my paper gown stirring in the breeze. “We’re not getting any younger you know. When would you say your tear ducts have been particularly uncontrollable?”
“Television commercials, for one.”
“Any ones specifically?”
“Hallmark. Especially the ones they ran during the holidays.”
“Uh huh”, scribble scribble, “And what about vintage, sappy music videos on CMT? Like the Brad Paisley one where the father waves as his daughter moves out on her own and the son walks off in his military uniform.”
“That was the worst! I tried to hold it together, but it caused the most painful tightness in my throat, the tears seeped out and before I knew it I was holding my breath and….”
“It’s alright, I know. Now, what about church hymns? Slow tunes on the radio? Attendance at class plays, spelling bees and honor roll assemblies?”
“Doctor, it’s like you can read my mind. Please help me! It’s embarrassing in public. I’m getting desperate here! You’ve obviously seen this condition before. Tell me. What causes it? Is it fatal? How much time do I have?”
“Relax Karen; it’s not fatal. Though there are times it’ll hurt so bad you’ll think you’re dying. Other times it’ll hurt so much you’ll want to kill someone else. There will also be times of complete joy and pride that will activate the symptoms too. The more you try to control it, the more it hurts. So just live it. I’ll have the nurse get you some samples of waterproof mascara and pocket size tissue packets. You’ll be fine.”
“OK doctor, if you say so. Thanks. But one more thing. What’s it called?”
“Tearductitis. It’s Latin for, The Youngest Gets Older.”