Tuesday, September 29, 2015. I was 61 years old. I had an appointment with my new primary care doctor, Jonathan A. Page, M.D. When he walked into the examining room, I greeted him by saying, “I’m being treated for under-active thyroid and high cholesterol.” I was an overweight, middle aged man. Dr. Page was a young doctor who had only recently completed his family practice residency.
An odd thought flashed through my mind: the meeting of the buffoonish, superannuated, and overweight Falstaff and the young Prince Hal, two Shakespearean characters that fate had brought together at the Garter Inn in London, or in my case, within the confines of a clinic examining room. FALSTAFF: Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of sack finely. BARTENDER: With eggs, sir? FALSTAFF: Simple of itself; I’ll no pullet-sperm in my brewage. Exit BARTENDER: How now!
I asked Dr. Page about testosterone. He paused. Then I said: “The strength it gives a man. That’s the secret of it. What then is your point of view? What would it mean if I took it–?” He leaned back in his chair. “You are risking a heart attack, a stroke, or other damage to your body.”
At a later consult he recommended I take a daily baby aspirin to prevent heart attack. “Bayer?” I asked. “It simply doesn’t matter,” he said. “That’s what I thought.”
Dr. Page told me that he wanted to have a vial of my blood drawn. I interjected, “But I had breakfast this morning.” The doctor said, “That’s fine. As long as you didn’t have a high fatty breakfast like eggs and sausages.” On a later occasion Dr. Page mentioned that he associated a certain dream with me: he said he had been having nightmares about a man breaking into his house, with the doctor coming down the stairs to find him eating sausages with eggs. . . . with eggs? It was almost as if Dr. Page had confessed to dreaming about my Shakespearean fantasy about him! That was uncanny.
I admired Dr. Page’s academic accomplishments. He had been an honors graduate in medical school and had earned a Masters in Public Health. He was notably articulate, even for a doctor, with an unusual ability and eagerness to explain medical issues with clarity and depth. He is someone I would have wanted for a like-minded friend: analgesia for my longing for a comrade-in-arms. In thinking about Dr. Page I associate to several lines from Cosima Wagner’s Diaries: a quote by Richard Wagner. “I shall surely leave the world with my great longing to have seen and known a man I truly venerate, who has given me something, unsatisfied. In my childhood years I used to dream I had been with Shakespeare, had conversed with him; that was my longing finding expression.”