How to Go to the Doctor

How to Go to the Doctor

Today, I had to accept the awful truth.  I am not invincable.  I am not even well at the moment–unless you think five naps a day is normal.

I’ve been telling myself for over two weeks that I was not going to go to the doctor.  That I didn’t need to go to the doctor.  That it was just a matter of letting my body have the time it needed to get over whatever this is.

I dislike going to the doctor intensely.  It’s an antiseptic experience that drains my wallet faster than a good sale at REI.  I usually feel like I’ve just been duped yet again when I leave the clinic after I ask for some help.  Because I usually don’t get it.

Some of this is the nature of the beast.  Modern medicine is a monstrous assortment of machines, needles, computers, and contraptions with a face stuck in every once in a while to make it look “human.”  It’s a lot of anonymous waiting and undignified “procedures.”  At lot of people end up worse off for getting into it. (The most recent figures put the annual death rate from medical mistakes at 98,000 and from adverse drug interactions at 100,000. )

But this time I had to admit that whatever is wrong hurt–a lot.

So I tried an acupuncturist, which was a  vastly different experience.  After an hour of informative conversation with that knowledgeable person I spent another half hour making myself lie still with tiny little needles poking out of me.  (The needles were nowhere near as traumatic as I expected but you do sort of feel like you are in a fake horror movie–the first time anyway.)   She advised me to add some supplements to my diet and I was out of there.  No tests!

Acupuncture helped with the pain some, and with a diagnosis, but I started to not feel right about my stubborn stand in not seeing my primary care physician (who is also a nice, capable person–but rushed).

Two days ago, I finally had to own up.  My resistance was more ego than intelligence.  I didn’t want to go to the doctor because I didn’t think it would do any good.   I wasn’t afraid of it.  I just didn’t want to give in and subject myself to the whole prolonged, expensive drill.

But then I got to thinking about the responsibility of it.  What if there was something wrong that could have been easily discovered and easily remedied–and that had really bad consequences if left undetected?

I wrangled with my ego for the better part of two days, trying to unravel just what about the process had me so turned off.  All I could hear was myself repeating  “No.  No.  No.”

Then it finally dawned on me.  I did not want the malady to become my life, which often happens when you seek entrance into our “health care system.”  I didn’t want to be a victim of anything, including a disease.  I didn’t want to sit in a lot of cold hard chairs in lifeless lab lobbies waiting to be called for yet another test after the previous one came back “normal.”

That’s when I saw the solution.  I am an adult.  I didn’t have to agree to every imaginable test.  Just the basic ones that ruled out big problems.  That was responsible.  Agreeing to an open-ended list “just in case” was not.

So I went, my doc and we talked. I agreed to some simple blood tests.  If they all come back okay, I will see if things improve on their own for a few weeks before I peruse anything else.  The doc is okay with this approach.  And I am relieved–I haven’t let my loved ones down by ignoring a health problem.

Medical attention is not a case of putting yourself in some doctor’s hands with blind faith.  Doctors practice.  You need to be fully engaged in getting their help or they are going to be doing a lot more guessing than they should have to.  Pay attention to what your heart, gut, and mind are telling you when you go in and don’t agree to stuff that doesn’t seem right.  Run your health care.  Don’t let it run you.

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