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I never go to the doctor if I can possibly avoid it. I freely admit that this is not necessarily the most intelligent course of action but I am just not the kind of person who finds going to the doctor particularly helpful most of the time. Obviously, I will go if I have seriously injured myself or have some kind of unexplained hideous pain, but I like to think I am a pretty good judge of how sick I am and smart enough to know what to do about it most of the time. I know when I have something like an infection that requires antibiotics or stitches but I am not one of those people who runs to the doctor every time I feel sick, consequently, since I don't feel sick often, I rarely go.
I live by this peculiar philosophy for a couple of reasons. The first is that I pretty much live by the Spartan code, which is crazy to a lot of people but just the way I am. It's simple really; acknowledge pain but don't let pain rule you, own up to fear but don't let it own you, and weakness is not a crime, but giving in to it is. It isn't terribly complicated. I cannot deny that people like me sometimes wander around longer than they should with injuries and tend to ignore some intelligent preventative measures, but what can I say? I yam what I yam. The second reason is even more simple. I'm an idiot. There is a third reason which has to do with a general lack of confidence in many doctors and an aversion to medication, but I won't go into that. Regardless of my possible lack of intelligence, I never go to see doctors unless I have no choice or am bullied into it by others. With that in mind, I know you will understand when I say that I recently went to the doctor that I wasn't happy about it.
My trip to the doctor came to be because my kids forced me to do it. Children can be terrible bullies when they want to be. I had a small lump on my lower back that I could not identify because it was located in a place impossible for me to see and my kids insisted that I get it looked at. It turned out to be just a meaningless little cyst that went away, but the visit to find this out led to a boatload of other stuff I could have lived without. The doctor, bless him, was appalled by the fact that I had not had a physical in about 12 years. When he scolded me for my lack of common sense I just shrugged. I didn't want to have to explain either my philosophy or my idiocy to him because that would mean that I ended up being there longer than I had to, so I took my chastisement on the chin like a good soldier. The next thing I knew I had about a thousand appointments for a physical and various tests. Bummer. Just what I was trying to avoid.
I went and had my physical. I cooled my heels in the waiting room what felt like forever, sat on a table in the examining room wearing one of those ridiculous garments they call a Johnny and trying stave off utter boredom by trying to remember all the operas Puccini ever wrote, until finally he made an appearance. He was still wearing the stern look I remembered from the last time I was there.
“I thought it was possible you might not show up,” he said.
I'd considered it, but I wasn't going to tell him that. He didn't scare me, but my kids did.
He asked me a bunch of questions about myself, my body, what my body did and didn't do. Did I have trouble sleeping? Did I have trouble staying awake? Did I have heart palpitations? Did my joints hurt? What do I eat and drink? Was I having hot flashes? Was I having chills? Was I depressed? Did I ever think about killing myself? Who was the 17th President, and what is the capital of Iowa? I made those last two up, but you get the point. I hate that kind of stuff. By the time we got to the actual physical exam I was seriously wishing I was in the capital of Iowa or anywhere else for that matter. The actual physical was the usual exercise in humiliation that it always is. He then sent me on my way with appointments to appear as directed in various places where I would be subjected to many more humiliations. Joy.
Ultimately, it turned out that I was just peachy for an old woman, which was good news but not entirely a surprise. My blood is good, my heart is good, my cholesterol is good, I don't have any suspicious lumps or bumps, my reflexes are fabulous, and my bone density that of a 30 year old woman. Go me. Nice to know that I am well worn but not worn out. The bad news was that I have to come back in 6 months and have another physical. Really? Is this what happens when you get older, people expect you to start falling apart like an old Chevy? Six months of wear and rust could mean the difference between classic car status and the junkyard?
At the end of my physical he asked me if I had any questions. I told him that I had just one and it was something that was really bothering me. He crossed one leg over the other, clutched his clipboard to his chest and put on his caring doctor face.
“Why do they call it a Johnny?”
He stood up, headed for the door and told me to go home.
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