My internist was stocky, but I don’t remember him as solid. At this remove, it’s hard for me to see how much my sense of his appearance and demeanor are affected by my dislike. I remember him as narrow-shouldered. I picture him looking down at papers or away at the screen where my patient records were displayed. I picture another man’s fumbling after geniality.
It isn’t only separating personal animus from professional evaluation; I can’t separate the part this man played in my history – all my own shame about what happened, all my trauma and self-loathing – from simple dislike. I don’t think I ever did like the guy – I don’t think he made a favorable impression on me at first, even when I felt sure of myself.
He was replaced as my doctor when he left my insurer’s clinic. I wasn’t notified ahead of time, or offered a choice of new doctor; I found out that he was gone when I called to make an appointment and was told I would see someone else. That man I liked, but maybe that’s a measure of relative peace four months later. It could be simple contrast. I remember my replacement as easygoing, informed, and responsive. I trusted him, and through him his employer.