A Burning Tale

Sharing Stories

Not a good place for a fire

A Burning Tale

While waiting for the dermatologist to show up, in a crummy little treatment room, I began to remember an experience I had way back in 1970, in a similar, only smaller, treatment room in Van Nuys, California.

I had been prepped for the removal of a suspicious growth on my chest. I had stripped to the waist and was in a paper gown, open in the front. The procedure involved heat. Seems that the doctor had some sort of old-fashioned iron, kind of like you would find in a kid’s wood burning set. Well, you guessed it, the iron caught the paper garment on fire. Of course, the discovery of this, caused an immediate flurry of activity. Actually, the fire was pretty comical as the three of us in the teeny tiny room were running around frantically and into each other. One of us had only underpants on. The doctor had ripped the paper gown off me and stuffed it into a little sink where the running water was soon going too—and did overflow onto the floor.

I remember finding an out-of-the-way corner from which to observe the “Keystone Cops” in action. The doctor could not believe that the nurse had put his patient in a paper gown when the treatment was going to involve heat. I don’t think he could believe that he had not noticed the eminent danger himself. Anyway, they finally noticed me, naked in the corner. We all agreed that the treatment was over, and I should put my clothes back on. The doctor was visibly shaken, probably thinking about his malpractice insurance. The nurse was mortified, having made such a stupid move and being called on it in front of the patient, and the two of them were reluctant to let me go home.

What they didn’t know was that I was no threat to them. I had way bigger problems going on—like a pending divorce and three small children who were not going to go away. Being on fire in the doctor’s office was nothin’...as far as I was concerned. It was just another day.

Lois (Mike) Caslin is a Mountlake Terrace resident and member of the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center’s Write about Your Life group.

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