Illustration: Clayton Junior

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Making Friends with Doctors

When it comes to Lea Goldman's health, there's one thing she won't do: settle.

Our eyes lock. The connection is unmistakable. Just five minutes ago we exchanged introductions, and now I'm slipping off my clothes as he takes stock of my body. There are no distractions, no interruptions, just the two of us. He sweeps my hair to the side, leans in while pressing the small of my back and says softly, Breathe for me. Yes, that's it.

Welcome to my fantasy doctor's appointment. And for years, it was just that: a fantasy. Between the interminable waits and the drive-through consults, a visit to the doctor felt like the blind dates I'd endured as a singleton: I'd be desperate to capture his attention while he clearly had somewhere else to be. I used to play the fool, sticking with the same doctors no matter how many times they treated me with hurried indifference. Can you blame me? Switching is such a pain—trolling for referrals, waiting weeks for the appointment, filling out endless forms. And worst of all, transferring medical records, which feels like asking your ex to give back your Van Halen concert tee.

I'd resigned myself to unsatisfying relationships until the day my GP kept me waiting an hour and a half for a checkup, then spent all of 12 minutes with me. I deserved better. So I ditched all my doctors—the gyno who used to want to know how long I'd been in a relationship because "if he hasn't asked you yet, he's not going to"; the Ferragamos-and-fur derm who was cruel to her staff ("I'm pretty sure I've told you not to do that, what, a hundred times already?"); the waka-waka cardiologist who cracked jokes while we talked about my high risk for heart disease.

I went on the hunt for spectacular doctors I could settle down with. I was unapologetic about my prerequisites: must take my insurance and treat me like the center of the medical universe for a solid 20 minutes; must have a pleasant disposition—no socially stunted physicians for me. Bonus points for practices that made appointments online and shared test results via email. The search hasn't been easy. But I've spent hours comparing broadband packages, colorists, brunch spots—why shouldn't I invest as much in my own health?

My husband joked about that Seinfeld episode in which Elaine is designated a "difficult" patient and gets blacklisted by other doctors: He said the secret society of New York doctors would to do the same to me, and I'd never be able to book an appointment again. But I think my high standards have transformed me into a model patient, well prepped with my medical history and specific questions so I can make the most of my visits.

So far, my vetting process is paying off. After road-testing three ob-gyns, I managed to find the most incredible guy. He waves to me from his exam room when he sees me in the office and always recalls details from my last visit ("Good, you're not wearing those crazy heels anymore"). In my ninth month of pregnancy, I got once-in-a-lifetime work opportunity that would require me to spend a night in D.C. He warned me about the risks of traveling, but when he saw how much the trip meant to me, he helped map out a route to the nearest hospital and gave met he name of an obstetrician friend to call in case I delivered there. That's when I knew: He's the one.