IN MY OPINION
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DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL
14 June 2006
I have a strange relationship with physicians -- not the ones I work for (though those relationships are often strange too!) -- but the ones who are charged with my health care.
Now, it should be noted that though my mother has been, for the past fifty years, a devout Catholic, her formative years were spent in a Christian Science household and she has retained some of those principles into her 80s.
This is not to say that she would refuse medical treatment if treatment were needed, but, for example, she has a shoulder which has been bothering her for years, and she still hasn't seen a doctor about it (are you listening, Mother?) It really is up to her, of course, about whether she wants to try to live with less pain, or be the punch line to the old joke:
PATIENT: Doctor, it hurts
when I do this
Rather than see if there is anything that can be done about her shoulder, she just doesn't move it in a way that hurts and talks about how she really should see a doctor "one of these days."
I am a chip off the old block, with variations. And I am married to a man who doesn't like to see a doctor. He ran out of his cholesterol medicine months ago and just assumed that because he had no more pills, he was supposed to stop taking them. I'm the last person to bug someone about going to the doctor to take care of a problem.
I have worked for years for physicians and other medical practitioners who believe that the secret to good health is patient education, training the patient how to be pro-active about her own health care issues. I know it works. I am a firm believer in the philosophy.
For all of the other patients.
For me, I seem to work on the "don't ask, don't tell" rule. Unlike my mother, I do go to see the doctor, not as regularly as I should, perhaps, but I do go. Eventually.
But I don't go armed with a sheaf of papers and questions about aches and pains. I figure if they can guess what they should talk to me about, I'll open up, but if they don't mention it, I'm sure not going to bring it up.
I am a person who, by my very appearance and lifestyle, is ripe for lectures. Lectures about control of diabetes, for weight loss, for an exercise regime, for a bunch of things. But I also react very badly to medical lectures. I once gave up going to the dentist for twenty-two years because my then-dentist lectured me about not flossing adequately.
I spent days, prior to my appointment with my gynecologist a week or so ago (a doctor whom I had never met. I had not had a gyn exam in about five years) preparing to answer the inevitable questions. But she limited her exam to strictly female issues -- no lumps in the breast, take a Pap smear, and come back in a year. All that pre-exam angst for naught. She didn't ask about the health history form I had filled out, where I honestly admitted that I don't eat a good diet and don't exercise.
I thought I was home free until I asked her for refills on my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.
That was not her area, she explained, and said I would have to get those prescription refills from my "new" (3 years ago--still hadn't met her) primary care physician.
By the time I returned home from that appointment, I had a call from the PCP's nurse, to set me up for a new exam--could I come in the next day? I've actually rescheduled two appointments now, but I knew I couldn't keep doing that forever, so I decided to keep today's appointment.
Again, I mentally reviewed all the buzz words I planned to use as excuses: dead kids, accident, knee injury, fear of biking, etc., etc. I have it down to a good science now and can fake a pretty believable whine, which isn't entirely dishonest.
I faced the dreaded weigh-in and blood pressure and waited for the new doctor to come in.
She checked the computer, and the papers they printed out when I registered. She asked if I had diabetes (yes), she asked if I was still taking antidepressants (no) and she asked if I was taking my other medications regularly (no--because I am out and was there to get refills).
She never mentioned weight. She never mentioned, except only briefly, blood pressure. She never mentioned exercise or other lifestyle issues.
All she did was to fill out a lab slip and order a sigmoidoscopy (the last time they recommended one, I was told that the appointments were backed up -- loved that phrase! -- 8 months and they would call me with an appointment, and never did).
She told me what I needed to get to prepare for the flex/sig and she wrote out refills for my prescriptions.
Then she shook my hand, told me it was nice meeting me and left.
I didn't have to mention that my knee hurts, 2 years after my accident. I didn't have to justify why I weigh as much as I do. All those things I was nervous about having to discuss never got mentioned.
Yeah, I know it's a rotten way to take care of (or not take care of) your health, but I figure if "don't ask, don't tell" is good enough for the military, it's good enough for me.
At least I went to the doctor (did you hear that, Momma?)
After I went to the doctor, I finally drove to the Secretary of State's office and learned that their computers are down, so they weren't able to give me the apostille after all...but they did let me address an envelope to myself, they took my money, and they will mail it to me.
AND, a call to the Czech consulate in L.A. again brought me to someone who says that I shouldn't need a second apostille anyway, and Jose's boss should be able to deal with just the one from the Secretary of State. Can the end of this project be finally on the horizon?
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Diane's cat, Alex, decides to feed himself.