Today, I sat in my doctor’s office (for the hundredth time) to discuss why it is that my arm, shoulder and neck keep reacting like they are a runaway abscessed tooth with no regard for treatment. Medical personnel are always very sympathetic, but they will persist in treating me as if I were a woman of reasonable medical knowledge. This is a waste of their time.
The worst thing they do is show me x-rays that are supposedly images of what is inside of me. “Now, if you will look between the 5th and 6th (word I did not understand), you will see that there is (another word I didn’t understand.)” the doctor said, pointing to his little slide on its cool light-up screen.
I find the screen very neat and I would like to borrow it sometime to watch the light go through my fingers (I have strange habits), but as for showing me the x-ray image, it might have been my neck or it might have been the secret plans to blow up some poor third world country; it was all the same to me.
“Is that what is causing me to be in so much pain?” I ask, holding onto my offending neck. He nodded, looking slightly deflated that I didn’t respond in some medical-eze. “Well,” I said, trying to look intelligent, “could we just maybe scribble out that white part with your ink pen and erase the problem?” I’ve never actually been thrown out of a medical office, but I am pretty sure he thought about it!
It’s not just x-rays of my neck that cause me to sound uneducated in medical things. I have never had the remotest talent for them and what’s more, I have no curiosity. I have never googled a disease, symptom or rash, because I will either not understand it at all or I will understand it well enough to have it scare the heck out of me.
Other people are so much better informed. “I have a righteous curvature of the scoliosis,” my friend informed me one day. “I looked it up and it said on the Internet that I will be too crippled to walk before I’m 60.” Dr. Internet aside, it concerned me that she sounded so happy about it. I guess knowledge is power, but I’d rather be medically ignorant. This is what we have doctors for.
Medical professionals are proud of their images. I remember looking at an ultrasound of a baby and thinking, “Oh, isn’t that cute, she’s got her thumb in her mouth.”
“Oh no,” the expectant mother told me, “the doctor says that is her little foot tucked under her butt.”
“Ah, I see it now,” I said, nearly standing on my head and lying like a rug all at the same time. All I really saw was a grayish blob that may have been the baby, or a stack of buttermilk pancakes—with the thumb in their mouth!
I look at dental x-rays and don’t see the teeth, let alone the cavities. I saw an ultrasound of my thyroid, and nothing about it suggested that this odd-looking thing was in my throat, but the doctor assured me it was. I woke up from a colonoscopy to a nurse holding up photos and chirping, “Guess what this is?”
“The cave where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher got lost? That is really dark, those poor things,” I replied. Yes, I knew it was the inside of my colon, but unlike her, I didn’t find the photos they took something I might post on Facebook.
Let’s face it, I am not looking for medical knowledge. Tell me in plain English what the heck is wrong and what I can do about it. I’ll believe the doctor, he doesn’t need photographic evidence that he can read, but I can’t. Give me the pill, the therapy or the surgery that your photos suggest, but for goodness sake, don’t SHOW ME and talk about it!