As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room, his nurse beckoned to me as she called for Barbara Green. I did not respond, since my name at that time was Barbara Williams. Once again, the nurse indicated that the time had come for Barbara Green to see the doctor. By now, each and every person in the waiting room had turned to stare at me with a questioning look.
A large planter’s wart on my right heel had prompted the appointment to see my dermatologist, Dr. Green. I had arrived late and rushed to sign in under the doctor’s name before finding a magazine to read.
In response to the nurse’s query, I replied, “My name is Barbara Williams and I’m here to see Dr. Green.” “You signed in as Barbara Green,” she announced in a much louder than necessary voice. Self-consciously, I responded, “Well, I am actually Barbara Williams but I am here to see Dr. Green.” Although this reply did not seem to satisfy the nurse, my answer made sense to me. As the other patients returned to their magazines, the nurse somewhat stiffly led me to one of Dr. Green’s exam rooms.
Bustling about, Dr. Green entered the room while perusing a manila folder. “I see you are here about a rash on your stomach. You will need to undress and put on this gown.” Alarmed, I replied, “Dr. Green, I’m here about a planters wart. I do not have any rash anywhere on any part of my body.” Perplexed, Dr. Green asked, “Aren’t you Barbara Green?” Embarrassed, I once again explained that although I had signed in as Barbara Green, my name happened to be Barbara Williams. “Just a bit of confusion on my part. It probably happens to your patients all the time,” I added reasonably.
Fortunately, Dr. Green removed the wart without requiring me to undress. It turned out that Dr. Green actually had a patient named Barbara Green who often complained about a rash. With all the mix-ups, I imagined that the bill might be mailed to her. However, no confusion existed when it came to collecting money. The bill for removal of a planter’s wart arrived in Barbara Williams’ mailbox long before the site of the wart healed.
Through the years, I have gone by many names: Barbie, Babs, Barbara Ann, Barbara Farnum, Barbara Williams, and lastly, Barbara Frandsen. Let’s have a little compassion about a problem that probably confuses thousands of people who experience “name challenges”. “Who the heck am I?” becomes an important question as the years pass. And, what happened to the patient’s rash? I can only hope she healed quickly and easily.