As a physician who trained in many parts of the country, I have had to deal with my fair share of difficult patients – Mafia thugs during my internship in Providence, drunken young men swinging at me at a Bronx hospital and fearsome manacled prisoners from Rikers Island and Sing Sing. But it wasn’t until I established my cozy suburban ophthalmology practice in Connecticut that I encountered the most reprehensible patients of all – who routinely tempt me to violate the Hippocratic Oath and do maximum harm – the smug New England Patriots fan.
They appear in my office, after having met their deductible, in Tom Brady jerseys.
Patient: “Doc, I think these glasses need to be changed.”
Me: “Read the chart.”
Patient: “E,V,O, T, Z, 2”
Me: “You see 20/20. Those glasses are fine.”
Patient: “Yeah but can’t you make it a little crisper? I want to see the ball spiral when Brady destroys your secondary on Sunday.”
Me: “We will give you a tough game if Big Ben’s shoulder is OK.”
Patient: “Nah Doc. It won’t make any difference. We’ll still kick your butt even if Roethlisberger’s shoulder is fine.”
Off course the patient is correct. Brady has been clobbering us for his entire career. But growing up as an unathletic nerd in rural western Pennsylvania, I learned to handle ridicule. But there is one thing I can’t stand – sympathy – which is what I am now encountering; such as after the Patriots trounced us in the 2016 play offs.
Patient: “Your Steelers looked good Doc. Just a little bad luck.”
Me: “The score was 36-17, you clobbered us.”
Patient: “But you missed that extra point.”
Me: “The score would have been 36-18.”
Patient: “I disagree, Doc. It shifted the momentum. There is a psychological component to the game.”
Me: “Like when we couldn’t get the ball in the end zone when we have first and 18 inches.”
Patient: “Yeah Doc. Perfect example. You’ll get us next year.”
But then next year arrives and my Steelers pull ahead with seconds left as the Outlaw (his real name is Jesse James) hauls in a beautiful Big Ben pass and falls into the end zone. Then a bunch of corrupt referees negate the touchdown, just like they did to the Jets earlier in the season when they were about to beat the Patriots.
Patient: “That was a tough one Doc.”
Me: “What’s wrong with your eyes?”
Patient: “They itch a little.”
Me: “So do mine. I’ve never gone to a doctor and whined about it.”
Patient: “You don’t have to get testy Doc. I’m just trying to feel your pain.”
Me: “You can’t possibly feel my pain, but Tomlin should have taken the field goal and put us in overtime.”
Patient: “Nah Doc. Tomlin made the right call. You had to go for the TD. You would never have beaten Brady in overtime.”
And for all you chortling Patriot fans, I know many of you are Democrats. Tom Brady, Steve Belichick and Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft are all Trump supporters. The tax plan Trump just signed will save them millions while you pay more, since there are limits to your state, local and property tax deductions. So you can ponder that the next time you are watching Tom Brady dissect our secondary.
Joe Bentivegna is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill.