What The Heck Are You Saying?

I just got back from the hospital medical clinic, and feel like I visited a refugee camp. When I called to make the appointment, I mentioned that on my previous visit I was assigned to a Muhammad something-or-other, M.D, but wanted a new one. Our family doctor moved to Texas recently in order to make more money so we’re left hunting for a new pill-pusher. Our now Texan doctor was a long time friend as well as our family physician and we were looking forward to having his care for the duration. On one visit he told me in a very serious tone that I was suffering from TMB. That hit me like a ton of bricks since it sounded really serious and maybe terminal. When I learned that it stood for “Too Many Birthdays” I quit taking him seriously. I should have known better since he told me once before that I had contracted “Chester Drawers” disease. That, by the way, sort of went along with the “TMB,” and he defined it as, “Your chest has fallen into your drawers.” Very funny.

Well, back to my recent doctor’s visit. When I called for this appointment I mentioned that the previous doctor, Muhammad, was not understandable and I needed a new one. On my visit with Muhammad, his accent was so heavy that I stopped him several times with a, “pardon me.” He would repeat but nothing changed. Not only that but he spoke so fast that everything came out mumbled.  Accent plus speed don’t mix. After a while I gave up and just sat there nodding as if I understood everything he said. At check out I asked if I could have a copy of his transcript (all computer) but they said it was not yet entered. I used that as an excuse to explain why I needed one. Surely I couldn’t be the first one to complain.

Well, back, again, to my recent doctor’s visit. The receptionist then scheduled me with a Dr. Sosa. I felt good about that since the Southwest is filled with Sosas having been raised in the U.S. Well, so much for that. Once again I was subjected to a thick accent talking way too fast to understand everything, although having been raised listening to Spanish accents it wasn’t as confusing as Arabic or whatever Muhammad was raised on. In addition to the accent, Dr. Sosa came in with a frown and left with a frown. Now, unlike most females (with apologies) I’m not really concerned with so called “bedside manners,” but if not understanding falls into that category then I say “nitey, nite, nite.”

It’s amazing how many medical doctors want to practice in the U.S., and I say more power to them. We need immigrants that are highly educated and can contribute to the economy, that is, except for the likes of, say, a Dr. Nidal Hassan. For all their smarts, though, it seems strange that they are not more perceptive about the effects of their language accent carryover.

Recently I called Dish TV, for the umpteenth time, to get instructions on how to get our picture back and was linked to someone somewhere who sounded like some doctors I know. When I asked, “from whence do you speak,” to “from where do you speak,” to “where do you live for cryin’ out loud” (I made up that last part), I asked to be transferred to the U.S. It doesn’t help for us “elderly” gentlemen that the hearin’ ain’t what it used to be. In some instances I just have to give up and say, “I’m sorry but I just don’t understand what you’re saying.” Sometimes that is really helpful to get rid of a telemarketer. We put them on a no fly list but they come over anyway.

I imagine these doctors are here to stay especially since they work off medical school loans in rural confinement. I need to find me one that speaks “Amurican,” and make sure he/she will be around. That requires three questions: 1) “Do you plan to stay here forever, or do you plan to move to Texas?” 2) And just to be safe, “Where were you born?” 3) And finally, to make sure I get quality health care, “Did you attend medical school classes wearing Hawaiian shirts” (Harvard of the Caribbean?)?” On second thought it might be easier if we just moved to Texas.


  1. Now, this was funny!! Been there, done that. I’ve said the exact same thing – “I don’t understand what you are saying.” Well, not exactly the same – left out “I’m sorry.” Intuit is the worse.

  2. Hi Carole,
    I think too many folks are having this experience. I’ve thought at times to offer a little vocal coaching like, “slow way down, over pronounce your words,” but I don’t think that would be received in the spirit offered. Oh well, “the times they are a changin.’ Glad you enjoyed it. See ‘ya.


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