I have a confession to make. I’m horribly jealous of Princess Kate but it’s not because she’s wealthy, or because the royal family owns several yummy country estates (one of which will be Kate and William’s country home). Nor is it because Kate can do anything she wants (princesses never can). It’s not even because of her hats. No, I’m jealous of Princess Kate because she has access to armies of super-attentive physicians, day and night. (As Woody Allen said, the best thing about being a celebrity is having doctors call you back on the weekend.) And that’s just the beginning! The Queen’s own gynecologist postponed his retirement to deliver Kate and William’s first baby, Prince George. What doctor would do that for a commoner?
I was thinking about this yesterday while sitting in the orthopedic doctor’s office, waiting for the doctor to come into the exam room. I broke my foot last summer while talking on a recorded line with my health insurance company. (They later claimed they lost that particular recording – not that I was going to sue them or anything.) Now I was afraid I’d re-fractured my foot exercising a little too zealously on the treadmill.
The longer I sat on that exam table, waiting, the more steamed up I got about not being a princess or even a Hollywood celebrity. When I arrived for my appointment, I had been hustled into the x-ray room even before I got a chance to be examined by the new doctor – hardly the protocol for royalty or even sub-royalty. I’m terrified of doctors and medical tests and being hurried along by a brusque impersonal technician was particularly unnerving. What a difference it would make, I thought, as I shifted my weight on the crinkly white paper, if doctors and their staffs treated me like they would Princess Kate, ministering to every tiny pain (I imagined), and every flash of panic. In fact, if I wanted, I could have the whole British commonwealth panicking along with me. How cozy would that be?
If only my daughter, Annelise, had listened to me! In 1997, when she was three I advised her to marry Prince William when she grew up. Then at least I’d have some royal privileges. But Annelise had just looked at me with her big three-year-old eyes and replied stoutly, “I don’t want that job.”
What a stubborn child, thinking of (and for) herself instead of her mom!
At this point in my ruminations, the door opened and the doctor breezed in.
“You sure had a bad break last year,” he said, holding the new x-rays up to the light. “But your foot is fine now.”
“Really?” I said, in surprise. “You mean I didn’t break it again?”
The doctor shook his head. “It’s fine. You’re fine!” He studied me for a moment. Then he sat down in the chair beside the exam table.
“You know,” he said, “You should enjoy life more and not worry so much.”
I nodded. “I’m a warrior worrier,” I admitted. “It’s an honored family tradition.”
The doctor chuckled. “What kind of work do you do?”
I told him I was a writer. Then I opened my purse and handed him a bookmark for my new book, Pride and Prejudice and Kitties.
When he looked at the bookmark, the doctor’s eyes lit up. “One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it,” he said, quoting from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, a quote I knew and remembered well.
For the next fifteen minutes or so we talked about love, suffering – and Jane Austen. For that brief time I felt like a princess, being treated by the Queen’s physician.
When the doctor stood up to go, he shook my hand.
“Write a story about this,” he said, “and God bless you.”
A version of this post was first published on womensmemoirs.com