Friday, April 8, 2011

Where Are You When I Need You?

8 April 2011

Damico.jpg  (37305 bytes)I stood there looking at the door and started laughing as so many memories flooding in.

My friend Ruth recently had replacement hip surgery and had her post-op appointment at a doctor's office today, but she can't drive yet, so asked I could drive her to Sacramento for the appointment. I've been missing our bi-weekly lunches, as I haven't seen her in a month, so I was happy to oblige.

Daniel M. D'Amico, M.D. is not her doctor. He is in partnership with another orthopedist, but D'Amico's nameplate is on the door and oh what memories. I've never met the man. I don't have a clue what he looks like, but he changed my life.

When I first went to work for The Typing company, the owner, Ann Holke, was a medical transcriptionist. I would work all day on student and business people's orders and Ann would pound out medical records.

One day she tossed a tape and a medical dictionary at me and said "Here...learn medical transcription." The tape was dictated by Dr. D'Amico. She chose him because he dictated more clearly than any of the other doctors whose dictations she transcribed.

It was very difficult in the beginning. I was looking up every other word, it seemed. As I began to learn the medical terminology, I realized how horribly I had botched a huge job that we had been given by a Japanese veterinarian when I was working for The Secretariat. The doctor had said "just type what you can hear" when he handed us about 50 tapes from a veterinary medical conference. Conferences are the most difficult thing to transcribe under the best of circumstances and when you are dealing with a vocabulary you have had NO experience with, it's even more difficult.

But I kept plugging away on D'Amico and I did learn. Then I went on to type for other doctors and to learn the vocabulary of other specialties, eventually centering on ob/gyn, where I then worked for about 15 years, in one office for 12, in another for 2 and then some transcription at home.

The thing about D'Amico was that he droned on...and on...and on... He would repeat himself and then repeat himself over again. He had the kind of soporific voice that could put you to sleep even while typing.

My favorite D'Amico story, though concerns my friend Diane. I had never met her, but she and Ann had been best friends and had raised their children together. Diane was a medical transcriptionist in the Seattle area, when I was learning medical transcription in Davis. During a particularly busy time for The Typing Company, Diane offered to take vacation from her regular job and come down and help Ann out with our overload.

While we typed student papers, Diane sat at a typewriter transcription D'Amico's work.

Now one thing doctors don't realize is that the transcriptionist hears everything that you are doing while you're dictating. I swear I once heard one of the doctors I worked for peeing while he was dictating.

On this particular day, Diane, who was such a funny lady, kept complaining that D'Amico had a cold and that he kept snuffling and sneezing and coughing. She said "If he spits, I'm out of here!"

Then suddenly she ripped the earphones out of her ears, leaped up from her chair and shouted "He DID! He actually DID!"

Diane and I became great friends during her time in Davis and our friendship continued after she returned to Seattle, though she and Ann kind of lost touch with each other.

As I sat there in the office today, waiting for Ruth to have her exam, all I could think of was that I really wanted to tell Ann and Diane where I was and how much I was thinking about them.

Sadly, they are both dead and there is nobody else who can fully appreciate how weird it was to be sitting in the office of Daniel M. D'Amico

When you are in the last years of your life, the sad thing is how lonely it is that so many of your peers, the people with whom you have a shared history, are no longer here to remember with you and to laugh at the time that Dr. D'Amico spit phlegm while he was dictating and how funny Diane was when he did it.

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