If Kanye West Was Your Doctor…
“I see this is your first time seeing Dr. West,” the nurse said after checking my height and weight.
“Yeah, it is, actually,” I said as we started to walk down the hallway towards the examination room.
“Dr. West is fantastic—you’re gonna love him! One of the best doctors we have in the hospital,” the nurse said. “I mean…” Suddenly, her toothy smile vanished, her mouth became a straight line, and her bright eyes gave way to an empty gaze. She slowly turned her neck to look at me. “…Dr. West’s the best of all time.”
“Oh…well that’s a relief, I guess,” I said with a chuckle, trying to break the eery, awkward tension that now filled the tight hallway.
“Alright, here we are!” she said—her cheery expression returned, as if it hadn’t left. She opened the door, and there he was. Sitting on the medical bed, black sunglasses over his eyes, headphones on his ears, Kanye West was movin’ to his music. It were as if the sonic charge from his laptop made its way through this headphones, and into his body, causing him to groove along in rhythm with the beat of whatever he was listening to.
“Dr. West…your patient is here,” the nurse said, raising her voice, but also kinda quiet because deep down she didn’t wanna disturb Kanye. “Dr. West,” she said again. Still no response. She looked down and cleared her throat, preparing herself for what she was supposed to say. “WAKE UP MR. WEST!” she yelled in Kanye’s direction. Kanye put his hand up to acknowledge our existence, but he continued to groove. “Ok, have a good appointment!” the nurse said before quickly leaving the room.
Kanye took off his headphones and sunglasses, and got up from the medical bed. As he stood, I noticed he was wearing leather joggers….and yeezys. He wasn’t wearing a white coat either, but a trenchcoat. He straightened his coat, started running his hands over it to get rid of wrinkles.
“Still listenin’ to Taylor Swift…1989” he started to say. “One of the best albums of—”
“Of all time?” I said with a laugh. A little joke.
He looked into my eyes and his smile slowly faded into a straight line….like the nurse. The ends of his lips started to curl downward. His eyes started to wander off and he looked toward the ceiling, as if he were remembering something—something meaningful, something….traumatic.
“BEYONCE HAD ONE OF THE BEST VIDEOS OF ALL TIME!”, he yelled at the ceiling. He quickly shook his head to snap himself out of his trance. “Sorry about that….just daydreaming. Something from my past.”
“Yeah…yeah…I mean, you had that James Dean daydream….look in your eye.” He looked at me blankly. “I know…very bad joke,” I said.
“Okay, so what’s the problem?” he asked as he grabbed his stethoscope.
“Oh, I’m just here for a check-up…like, where you check my breathing and stuff…”
“Oh, right, yeah. Of course,” he said. “I knew that.”
“It just get so confusing. We see so many patients a day. Doctors. We see too many people each day, we’re overworked….”
“….let me finish—Seeing 15+ patients per shift. You can’t even talk to your patient. You don’t remember the personal details, what their name is….and seeing all these patients hurts the doctor AND the patient. 1 in 5 doctors report unsafe workloads! We’re stressed! I mean, look at me,” he said. I expected him to continue talking, but he stopped and motioned me to look at his outfit. “Look closely….the yeezys” he whispered as his eyes pointed down to his shoes.
“…Okay,” I said.
“For the doctors, it’s like working that….graveshift,” he continued before he started to sing. “I’ve been working this graveshift…I wish I could buy me a spaceship and flyyyyy. And, the patients…they don’t get the best care. They gotta wait so long and then they only have a few minutes to talk to the doctor. There’s no trust. It’s these hospitals…they’re a giant institution and they’re in control—they tell us we’ve gotta see all these patients. They’ve got the influence. And the doctors…how can we even empower ourselves when the hospitals have so much control?
“Wow, that’s actually a very interesting take…”
“And that’s why patients should act as the doctor, and we doctors should act as the patient sometimes during these check-ups. Let the patient diagnose me. So we can build a mutual trust again.”
“Wait….you lost me there.”
“But the hospitals…they don’t like that idea. They aren’t letting me create.” He paused and looked up at the ceiling as if he remembered something….again. “I AM THE NUMBER ONE MOST IMPACTFUL DOCTOR OF OUR GENERATION,” he exclaimed, now looking into my eyes, into my soul. I AM BEN CARSON IN THE FLESH…THE NEUROSURGEON, NOT THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. ELIZABETH BLACKWELL. ABRAHAM VERGHESE. BENNETT OMALU. Now, who’s gonna be that hospital that stands up and lets me create more? Or do you wanna marginalize me ‘til I’m out of my moment…”
“Why don’t you start your own practice…” I said.
“Start your own practice….”
Kanye looked up at the ceiling again. “YOU AIN’T GOT THE ANSWERS, SWAY!
“Who’re you talking to?” I asked, looking up at the blank ceiling.
“Hold on. I need to tweet this,” he said.
He looked up at me and then back down at his phone. “You have distracted…from my creative process,” he said before tweeting on his iPhone.
“10,000 retweets in half a second.”
“Did you just tweet that too?”
“Yeah…gotta put a kimoji on there too” he says. “For the wife,” he said with a smile.
“Ok…so how about my check-up?” I asked.
“Yeah, hold on, let me answer this text,” he said. “No, it has to be a perfect cube shape!” he yelled at his phone as he angrily clicked away. “Okay, now, let’s hear that heart,” he said as he grabbed his stethoscope again. “How could you be so heartless! Good song,” he said with a laugh. “Best of all time…like my other songs. Ok, I’m gonna move this around to different parts of your back…”
“K”, I said with a sigh of relief. “K”.
“What did you say?”
“You don’t come in here into my creative space and just drop my wife’s initials like that,” he said as he glanced around the plain, off-white walls of the small, mostly empty examination room.
“No, I meant K…as in short for Okay,” I said.
“Oh…oh, right. I’m sorry,” he said with a laugh. “Good energy, positive energy. You know what?” He paused. “I feel some hostility here….a lack of trust. Take this,” he said, handing me the stethoscope. “You’re the doctor. I’ll be the patient.”