Friday I had to go the doctor. I hadn't been to a doctor except for strep throat in five years. Why so long? The exact reasons escape me, but I am sure memories similar to situations like the following are a contributing factor. I will try to avoid TMI.
Doctors' offices are generally only open for regular check ups on work days. This entails taking a 1/2 day off to take care of yourself. Every time I have to log-in to the website to request a substitute teacher, I ask myself, "Is there some other way? This 1/2 day is going to pile on to all the other days I take off for my children. I am going to have to write detailed sub plans describing every minute thing we do everyday out of habit." Yet I bite the bullet and request the sub anyway and take the morning off.
Now that I have the appointment I have to remember it. Not my strong suit, but remember it I do. I get there the requisite 15 minutes early at 8:15 a.m. I check in to the receptionist who knows me well because of my daughter. She gives me this two page check list of ailments that I need to peruse and accurately complete so the doctor will know everything wrong me. (Is this a new pen? Does it have enough ink?) Then the wait begins. I watch the clock in the lobby as person after person gets called back to the triage nurses - even people who came after I did. All the while I am thinking, "How long do I wait before I complain? What happens if my appointment runs too late? Will I just jump off the table and tell them I have to return to work now?"
Finally, at 8:50 the nurse calls my name and the dreaded weigh in happens. Now for the truth --232.8 lbs or 105 kg. I tell you what, to this American girl, it looks better in kilos. She takes me back to the exam room. She asks me some questions. "Have you had this? When did that last happen? Did this ever happen to you?" Then she asks me if anyone in my family has ever had breast cancer? I always hated this question in the past because my father's sister died after a long fight with this cancer, but this year was more difficult as I had just lost my father to leukemia this past fall. The moment I opened my mouth to answer, the tears welled up in my eyes. For the remainder of the doctor visit I was in some state of crying. I felt like such an idiot.
At this point, the nurse tells me it is time to put on that dreaded gown and leaves the room. When you hear this directive, you begin to calculate how quickly you have to change. Will they be knocking quickly. Are they standing outside the door with a timer and a chart that tells them how long a 40 year old woman takes to change clothes. Then there is the matter of where you will hide your unmentionables which shall remained unmentioned.
Finally, I am perched on the exam table with a gown that barely closes in the back. Why is this the case no matter how big a person is. Haven't the gown manufacturers figured this issue out yet? Then I realize that there is no clock in the room and my cellphone has been dutifully turned off as the many signs directed me to do. I now know they do this so you won't know how long you have been there. (It's just the opposite of McDonald's business practice of hard seats and upbeat music to get you to eat your food and get out as quickly as possible. Take their clothes, watches and phones away and don't hang a clock in the room.) As it turned out, there was an emergency which always seems to arise when I go to the doctor, and I am left sitting in a dressing gown. So I end up sitting for over 30 min in an empty room staring at a poster of what could happen to you if you got diabetes. (It was gross.) Not a magazine to be found. Can you believe it? I know you can!
Now that I have been at the clinic an entire hour, the doctor knocks on the door and comes in. After a few brief formalities and few looks of pity (mind you I am still in some state of tearfulness,) she begins her routine. I don't know how long everything took. I am just glad it's all over. I quickly redress feeling so miserable (not because of anything the doctor did) that I consider calling the sub to see if she can stay the rest of the day, but quickly reject that idea for all the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this long story.
Why do I tell this story? I think things need to change. HMOs are swamped. They require too much of a small staff. They put time limits on doctors that if they could afford to be in private practice which, because of malpractice insurance, they cannot, they would be able to schedule more needy patients like myself for longer periods. As it is, an anonymous switchboard of scheduling agents take your phone calls not knowing anything about you. Trying to get a nurse or the ACTUAL doctor to tell them why you want to see them is completely out of the question. I can almost guarantee they aren't even in the same building as the clinicians.
For these reasons, I hate going to the doctor. I am certain I am not the only one. People blame the economy and lack of insurance on why people don't take care of their health needs. I know for my case and many of my friends who all have insurance that this couldn't be farther from the truth. It is too much of a hassle to get it done, so that when we finally do go, it is often too late.
I challenge all of my friends, male and female, go to the doctor. Get that check up. Yes, it can be pain in the ... both literally and figuratively. But I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Besides, I would sure miss talking to all of you on Facebook, Scrapblog and SIStv if something ever happened to you.
Playlist Note: I thought that first song was funny!