My alleged hand surgeon ordered that I be tested for carpal-tunnel syndrome. His receptionist scheduled the test for three weeks from then. During those weeks I researched the condition; the basic facts made clear the patent unlikelihood of my suffering from it. But I guess the hand surgeon had kids in college.
A colleague of my alleged hand surgeon administered the test while three of her students took notes. This noble display of scholarship occurred only a few steps from my alleged hand surgeon’s complex i.e. office.
Nobody among the young females that had followed the labcoat-wearing woman into the room spoke much English. Their refusal to make eye contact with me, or acknowledge my existence as a sentient being and not an inanimate learning tool rendered any language barrier moot. The labcoat lady didn’t bother introducing me her students; she delivered her last English words to them with cold authority: “Let’s get started.”
The test involved the labcoat lady plunging an oversized needle into different locations on my forearm. A wire connected to the top of the needle led to a portable apparatus featuring an analog meter and an assortment of knobs. Each time she stuck the needle into a strategic area, she requested that I move my arm a certain way or otherwise flex specific muscles. I’d resigned myself to the resultant pain and discomfort—par for the course—but the distress somehow bolstered my impression that these borderline charlatans were wasting my time.
Every time the labcoat lady aimed the needle at a particular region of my forearm, she mechanically smiled and addressed me directly. She assured me that though I would feel a slight prick, her jabbing wouldn’t hurt—that turned out to be a tremendous lie. She also offered a condensed and dumbed-down explanation of her intent, while her student’s eyes shot back and forth between their notes and the area of my arm that would host the needle. Then she adopted a stern expression, regarded and lectured her minions in some Eastern European language that I couldn’t quite place. She used her rigid index finger to repeatedly encircle the targeted area of my arm, as one would emphasize a location on a map. The poker-faced students vigorously scrawled in their spiral notebooks. Occasionally one would ask the labcoat lady a question; sometimes they spoke briefly among themselves.
After roughly 45 minutes of studious poking and prodding, the test ended. The students unceremoniously filed out of the room without saying goodbye to anybody. There weren’t any bodily tissues or fluids that needed to be sent to a lab for analysis; a trained medical professional i.e. the labcoat lady should’ve been able interpret the available data. But when I asked for the verdict, she told me I’d have to talk to my doctor “in a few weeks.” Before I could open my mouth to debate her, she’d rushed out the door.