White coat hypertension. 

 I recently went to the doctor for the first time since coming to America. 

It was, by and large, the same as going to the doctor in Britain: dated banquet hall chairs in the waiting room, bustling nurses, typing doctors, surprisingly old fashioned scales.

But the dynamic of the thing felt different than I remember from all my visits before, on both sides of the ocean.

Perhaps this is because it’s the first time the doctor was my age, enabling a peer-to-peer conversation rather than mandate of elders.

Perhaps my aging confidence meant I walked in to be heard and hear rather than obsequiously request, too.

Perhaps it is because I am lucky to have good doctors and great insurance in a well-off college town. 

Perhaps the ongoing battle to train doctors in bedside manner is finally reaping some benefits.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve decided to go with a DO for the first time instead of an MD.

But everything about the exchange was new and different, relaxed and open ended. 

My doctor asked if I felt safe at home; if I was struggling with addiction; if I had any concerns. It was gentle and welcoming and none of the hard-pressed anxiety of feeling I’m not believed or I’m exaggerating for effect or just a number in a chart. 

It felt for once like I belonged. Like I was welcome. 


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