Monday, November 3, 2008

The Never Ending Dr.'s Visit

"You definitely look very allergic in there," the doctor said, as she pulled the tip of her light stick out of my nose and clicked it off.

I nodded because this seemed like the right thing to do, but really I wondered what it was she saw inside my nostrils. I imagined loads of pollen flurrying about, tiny miniature weeds growing as high as could be and small piles of cat hair and dander everywhere. I should have asked her.

Prior to this visit, all the reasons for every dr.'s appointment I've ever had have been singular and specific -- I had a persistent, phlegm-producing cough, my asthma was getting out of hand, I had found a gray hair at much too early an age for it to be considered normal (it turned out it was).

This particular visit, however, happened somewhat by chance, and when the appointment-maker asked if I wanted a complete general physical, I just went with it. She had that tone of voice that made me think she was on the forefront of medicine, someone who knows what's up.

After having the dr. confirm what I already knew (that I am a very allergic person), I mentioned that I had been having chest pains in the past few months, mostly as a result from the action of washing my hair. She asked if I could re-create the pain, and when I couldn't, she took to pushing me hard in the chest. I rocked backwards from the force of each push, and each time she asked if it hurt when she did that. Because I couldn't be sure if it hurt from her sharp fingers jabbing into me or if it had something to do with the shower pains, I said it didn't hurt. I hope this doesn't come back to bite me later.

Next we talked about my poor vision. I knew this was going to be a topic for discussion when the nurse who had asked me to cover first my right, then my left eye, had cocked her head at me after I read the letters on the chart to her and asked if I would like to put on my contacts or glasses. What I'd like to ask is, when do I ever need to read small letters from a distance anyway? Yes, maybe on the freeway, but that's different. My bad vision was also blamed for my recurring headaches.

I then walked her through my family's medical history. I couldn't remember what my grandpa's eye condition was that left him legally blind, but I'm pretty sure I'll get it.

The doctor left for a moment, and another nurse came in to administer the flu shot.

After being pricked with a needle, the doctor came back in and asked prying questions about my intimate affairs -- how many partners do I have? How long have I been with my partner?? Am I ever unsafe??? On the form the nurse gave me to fill out when I first arrived, there was even a line to enter in how many partners you were/are unsafe with. Besides a whole host of reasons I can think of not to be unsafe, this probably tops them all -- having to admit on paper and say out loud that you are, in fact, knowingly unsafe and having to indicate as close an estimate as you can muster onto the form of how many other people you have, well, endangered.

I thought about Denise and how she sends out email alerts to her students before giving lectures on sensitive topics. Why didn't anyone email me about this? People should be given time to prepare for their physicals. You think you're going in for a routine exam and then next thing you know people are accusing you of using Qtips in your ears, shaming you for your excessive wax production, jabbing you in the chest and sticking needles in you. And to top it all off, there's no clocks to be found anywhere in the room, to make you forget about time so you can spend your whole day there, a trick commonly employed by casinos.

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