Medical Mysteries

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All right, it’s true. I pick on the medical profession a lot. But I think it’s a fair trade: I pick on them in my realm of writing and they scare the life expectancy out of me in their realm of medical mystery!

Since it is nearly the time of year when I must pick up the phone and voluntarily give myself into their hands for my yearly physical, I think it is a good time for me to list some of the reasons why I don’t like doing this.

The first reason is the time they set up. I call the office and say, “Yes, I would like to schedule my annual checkup with the doctor. Could we possibly set it for sometime in the early morning in a week or two…”

I am cut off at this point by the medical receptionist who begins to fire questions at me like a drill sergeant with a new recruit, “What is your birthdate? Any changes in insurance? Any trips to areas having outbreaks of disease? Are you experiencing new symptoms?” I swear to you, if I told them I needed to see the doctor because I have a spear sticking out of my throat, they would schedule me for 4:30 in the afternoon, three months from that date (minimum) and I should bring a copy of my living will!

The worst part of the visit is, of course, the orders not to drink or eat anything for the 12 hours prior to the appointment. I get why they do this, all right? But jeez, no food or drink AND I have to see the doctor? That is just too much. But, every year, I drag myself in there, feeling like I’m in the desert as I pass water fountains and with my stomach rumbling as I watch the small child next to me eating Cheerios out of a baggie, which look absolutely delicious, especially the ones stuck to his wet and sticky fingers! By the time I actually see the doctor, I’ve got a case of the “hangries” that just won’t quit!

Blood draw is no fun and it’s the first thing they do. The vampire in the lab is waiting with a large needle, ready to do their part and making clever little comments like, “It’s okay, you don’t have to look and I won’t either.” In my fantasies, I grab them by their white coat lapels and snarl, “Don’t mess with me. I almost punched out a three-year-old for a baggie full of week-old Cheerios. One more word from you and I’m going to slap you around this lab and steal the candy bar sticking out of your pocket!”

Finally, finally, FINALLY, they take you into that little cubicle where the doctor will eventually get around to seeing you. They make you step on the scale and then they ask the terrible question, “Do you want to know what you weigh?” If I wanted to know that, I’d join a gym and work out. As it is, I’m operating on the ignorance is bliss theory, so no-I don’t want to know what I weigh. After that, they bombard you with even more questions, “Are you pregnant? (Seriously?) Are you safe at home? (I stepped on a plastic fork and nearly wiped out, does that count?) or, Do you feel like you want to harm yourself? (A little hint, here, if you answer, “Only when I have to answer these questions” they will make you answer a whole new set of questions. Trust me on this one.)

And of course, they take your blood pressure. Here again, I refer to the spear in the neck example. If I came in with that, they would ignore it to begin with and take my blood pressure. And they would say, “Wow, that blood pressure’s a little high.” I have gone into the doctor’s office after a night of pain in my side and throwing up, having pain washing up and down my spine when I moved, a toothpick shoved completely under my toenail…don’t ask, and so dizzy, I was seeing two of the doctor. In each case, they took my blood pressure first and said, “Wow, that blood pressure’s a little high.” As a result, anytime I see a lab coat, my blood pressure shoots straight up!

Of course, any kind of test is fun; the pap smear (women’s answer to the prostate exam), the mammogram and a fun new one I’ve been having called a thyroid check. That’s where they lay you back in a semi-dark room and shove needles in your throat. The tests themselves are bad enough, but that week wait to hear whether you get a passing grade or not is even worse. “Yes, this is the doctor’s office. We are calling to let you know about the results of you recent test. The test was administered on Friday. Please verify your birthdate…” With a woman of my anxiety levels, I want to scream into the phone, “Get to it! Am I going to live or die????” My ideal report would be no more than the day after the test and they would begin the conversation with, “All good, here.” We can straighten anything else out after that. Is this too much to ask?

Now, before everyone thinks I don’t understand the hazards of the medical profession, I will be the first to say that I don’t. And for the record, I appreciate what the medical community does for me. Now that I’ve done my worst for them in my writing, it’s time for them to get me in their little cubicle and do their worst on me!

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