An Introvert’s Guide to Doctor Visits

One notion universally shared by introverts that I can personally attest to is this: receptionists frighten us. This is someone who is paid to ask people questions all day long, which is basically my nightmare. They tend to be very preppy or have the attitude of a very cranky turtle. There is no middle ground here. 

Now this is just the description of your average desk receptionist, someone who assists you and directs you to a location. Far more frightening is a receptionist who works for a medical facility, the only difference between the two being their knowledge of you. As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” And it’s true. Having to talk to someone is bad enough, but knowing that that person can also see your entire medical history is ever the more frightening. 

My mother has always come with me to my doctor’s appointments for two reasons. Firstly, I can’t drive. Secondly, I am awful at communication. More than once, I have stuttered my words, failed to mention important symptoms, and more often than I’d like to admit, forgotten the reason I needed to see the doctor at all. This time, however, I decided to do everything myself. (Because a global pandemic is a great time to try new things!)

So I’m standing in line, six feet apart of course, when a receptionist waves me over to her booth. Whenever I have to talk to someone I don’t know, I become very soft spoken and speak very quickly. Between me and the receptionist was not only a mask, but also a large plexiglass screen. Communication was difficult, to say the least. Being determined to end this experience as quickly as possible, I basically went into robo-mode, answering yes to everything that did not need a longer explanation. We go through all the usual stuff: name, insurance, reason for visit, etc. Then we get to the personal stuff. 

I’m trying very hard not to lean on anything, touch anything, and trying my very best to get through this as quickly as possible so I can go home. So when she asks me this, I’m not fully paying attention, flying solely on auto-pilot. 

“You live in Connecticut?” 

“Yup.” Now, in the back of my head, I did realize that was the incorrect answer. I do, in fact, live here in Massachusetts, but I continued on anyway. Even if an introvert says the wrong thing, nine times out of ten we will always do our best to stick to the unspoken upon script.

“You were born in May 2002?” 

Knowing full well that I was born in December of 2000 I answered, “Yes, indeed.” Finally, my mother realized I was in auto-pilot and stepped in; correcting me on all accounts while the receptionist looked at me like I was insane. 

I’m shocked, because why in the world would my information have changed? Maybe it was someone who has the same name, but Mastroianni isn’t exactly a name you hear on a daily basis. After getting the information fixed with the secretary, I finally went in for my appointment.

As I am leaving, I stop by my doctor’s personal secretary to make my appointment for next year. I save the date in my calendar, and as I’m getting ready to leave, she motions for me to wait. 

Now at this point, I’m quite tired. My social battery is at about 2% and I am ready to leave, go home, and take a five hour nap. Then we have this conversation:

“We looked up when and where your information was changed. Did you have a skiing accident in February?” 

“I have never skied a day in my life, although I’m pretty sure that if I did there would definitely be an accident.” I’ve come to realize that when making a joke, some secretaries will laugh as a courtesy, while others will just stare at you like you have a second head. This woman was the latter. 

“Apparently in February somebody using your name got back x-rays in Ayer, Massachusetts.” 

I’ve never been to Ayer in my life. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t even know a word like that existed.

The secretary wrote down the information of the place for me and I was finally freed from the horrible experience and everything was fine!

Not.

After endlessly being put on hold and being forced to listen to elevator music, my mother and I then spent twenty minutes in the hospital parking lot trying to convince a very confused woman that they have the wrong Grace Mastroianni. I’ve never been to Ayer. I don’t know that hospital. And yes, I am absolutely certain. 

One fruitless conversation later, I still have no idea what happened. But with such a low battery, I decided that this was just going to be one of those weird stories with no definite ending. 

And to the girl who stole my identity: you should probably stop skiing. Medical records indicate you’re pretty bad at it.

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