Featured Column
Week of 5.9.2005
"Once Upon a Time"
          I was six years old with a sore throat and running a high fever. My mother kept poking a thermometer in my mouth, saying, “Put this under your tongue and don’t open your mouth.” A few minutes later she would remove the thermometer, look towards my grandmother and say, “It’s a hundred and three, I’m worried.”
          After three or four temperature tests my mother said, “I’m calling Dr. Dasher.” Dr. Dasher was our family physician. Less than two hours had passed when Dr. Dasher arrived at our home, wearing his smart, dark suit, carrying his black leather doctor bag.
          This time it was Dr. Dasher saying, “Put this under your tongue and don’t open your mouth.” After verifying that my temperature was, indeed, a hundred and three, the handsome, middle-aged doctor peered down my throat, shining a small silver flashlight into my gullet. He felt both sides of my throat, looked up my nose, put his hand across my brow and said, “I think the boy has a strep throat.”
          I remember thinking, “Oh, God, do they have to take my throat out?”
          Very close to tears, I pulled up my head and watched the doctor reach into his black back and take out a small bottle. He turned towards my mother and said, “These are Sulfa pills. Give him one every 6 hours until the pills are gone – should fix him up. Call me if the temperature doesn’t go down in a couple of hours.”
          I heard the click of his black bag closing and he said, “I think he’ll be fine. Don’t worry, the Sulfa will get him through this.” My mother said, “Oh, Dr. Dasher, thanks so much. I was terribly worried. How much do we owe you?”
          Dr. Dasher gripped his black bag, straightened his tie and turned towards my mother, “Not much, I’ll send you the bill. Now, you call me if you need me, okay.”
          Now, fast forward a few decades. I had checked the internet, comparing my symptoms, diagnosing that I had sinusitis. The condition had lingered for a week, so I called the 800 number for my HMO and made an appointment for two days hence.
          I drove to the clinic, parked, entered the building and walked past the three long lines of people queued up to order and pick up their prescriptions. The creaky elevator deposited me on the fourth floor, where I found myself as the 8th person in line to sign in and wait for my appointment.
          Ten minutes later a person in a hospital-green pajama- like outfit called what she translated as my name, “Mr. Grugard.” Her accent made it even more impossible for me to understand her. She bellowed again, “Mr. Grugard.” I stood up, raised my arm and walked towards her. “I’m Cruger.” She led me to a small cubicle.
           “Put this under your tongue and don’t open your mouth,” I was told. She took my blood pressure and asked me, “What can we do for you?” I told her my symptoms. She led me to the larger cubicle and said, “The doctor will be with you soon.”
           Twenty minutes passed when I heard the weak knock on the door to alert me that the doctor was coming in.
          The doctor walked in, quickly opened my file folder and said, “Well, Mr. Grugard, what can we do for you?”
          “It’s Cruger. I think I have sinusitis.”
           “Well, let’s take a look. Open wide, ahhh.” The doctor looked deep into my mouth and my nose, felt on either side of my neck and said, “Yup, I think you have sinusitis, how long have you had it?” “A week and two days,” I said.
           “Well, now. Let’s try and get you fixed up.” Here’s a prescription for some antibiotics, should take care of you in a few days. You call that 800 number if you don’t get better soon.”
          The doctor shook my hand, grabbed my file folder and said, “Nice meeting you.”
I hopped down from the all-purpose table and watched the doctor head down the narrow hallway to the next cubicle door. I saw him gently knock on that door, enter, and I heard him say, “Well, Mrs. Bootler, what can we do for you today?”
          Down the elevator I went to get in line at the pharmacy. Twenty minutes later I had worked my way to the front of the line to order the prescription. Forty minutes later I heard my name called to pick up my prescription, “Crujjer.”
          I drove home thinking of that day long ago when Doctor Dasher came to our house and made me well.
          When I got home after fighting the freeway traffic I checked to make sure that I still had that 800 number.
          Then I got to thinking. Everything changes. Most of the time for the better, but not always.
A visit to the doctor
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger