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The Chair

“To the discontented man, no chair is easy”

            --Benjamin Franklin


One thing wonderful about having a Blog is that you can write on anything that you want to--anytime you want to.  And most of the time I write about our Allergy profession and what we need to do to have a Renaissance in it.  We doctors are fond of writing about intriguing disease states, fascinating cases, elegant pathophysiological mechanisms, but the mundane?  The ordinary?  We let it pass us by. Take it for granted.  Assume it’s part of the landscape.   


Such is my exam room Chair. 


Yet each day, every patient sits in The Chair.   Some of them drive hundreds of miles, take airplane flights, and bear innumerable inconveniences—to sit in The Chair.  Is this a simple piece of furniture, something merely mundane?ordinary? 


I think not. 


The Chair is special. 


Over the last 29 years, people from all walks of life have sat in The Chair—Town mayors, truck drivers, college professors, high school students, welders, interior designers, tennis pros, CEO’s, janitors, chefs, waitresses, factory workers.  Two year-olds.  Ninety-year olds.  Athletes.  Handicapped.  All have sat in the same chair.  The expanse of humanity who have sat in this single chair is breathtaking to me. 


Of course, patients give me a conventional “allergy history” in this chair—after all, that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?  Evaluate a patient for  allergy?  But in this chair the magic alchemy of “mixing” the physician and the patient together cause many other things to happen:  

             ….tales are told

             ….tears of pain (and tears of joy) fall

             ….pain is shared

             ….and secrets are whispered

And in this chair resides a hidden, universal “bonding” between  all who sit in it, because  everyone—everyone—who sits in this chair for the first time desperately wishes  that when they arise from their chair, there will be




And what about the “healing process”?  When does this mysterious force begin taking place? 


In the chair.  With the first handshake. 


Sometimes it actually takes a patient a long time to sit in The Chair. I remember seeing a woman with such severe interstitial cystitis pain that she couldn’t sit down to tell me her story when she first came to see me.  She paced across the room as she related her history to me.  As her allergies were treated, she began to feel better, and eventually one day I came into my exam room, and  for the first time saw her with a big smile on her face..


Sitting down.    In The Chair. 


The Chair has another mysterious quality—to me it’s a storehouse of memories.  Here’s a thought to ponder:  How many physicians have sat in The Chair?  I have now made it a routine part of my daily practice.  Before clinic “opens” I’ll sit in The Chair and look across the room at where I will be sitting in a few minutes.  I think about all the patients who have sat where I sit now.  I am humbled by the confidence they have placed in me. 


I am an old allergist…and as I sit in The Chair  for a few minutes “with my patients”, haunting memories return; visages and snatches of conversation flicker before me…

            “Do I have to quit farming because of my asthma?”

            “Did the death of my granddaughter have anything to do with my hives?”

            “I’m afraid to eat anything—I could die”

            “Nobody knows what’s wrong with me…I’m so tired and afraid…”




                 “Thank You”


Bless all the patients who sit in this Chair. 


It isn’t ordinary at all.  It’s something very special.  .




Posted on Friday, May 28, 2010 at 09:03AM by Registered CommenterGeorge F Kroker MD FACAAI | CommentsPost a Comment

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