I can’t make a doctor’s appointment without feeling like a hypochondriac.
Seriously, unless I’m actually bleeding or something (which almost never happens), it takes a lot to convince me to pick up the phone and call the the appointment nurse.
And sometimes, I’ll make an appointment, then when it’s time to go in (usually at least several days later), I’ll cancel or just not show up at all.
Which means, the next time I need to make an appointment, in addition to my normal resistance to accept as real any symptoms I think I have, I have to deal with the guilt of having stood up my doctor from the time before.
I like my doctor. I’ll call him Dr. Carl. For one thing, he just looks like a doctor, a classic TV doctor. Handsome, mature, late middle age, tall, not overweight. Blond hair, blue eyes. Tasteful wire-frame glasses. Friendly but not overly so; doesn’t flirt with the nurses or female patients; professional but approachable.
My work insurance is not an HMO. It allows me to choose my own doctor, and years ago, I chose Dr. Carl. His office is in my neighborhood so I can walk, or, if I’m ill (hardly ever) I can take the bus and it will drop me off right in front of the door, even though it’s just 10 blocks away.
But… still, I wonder when I make an appointment. Is this serious enough to take up Dr. Carl’s time? Is this something silly, something frivolous? Does he roll his eyes when he sees that I have an appointment, think to himself (or, worse, chuckle and mention to his staff) “Oh, it’s that guy, Brian. Wonder what he thinks is wrong with him this time?”
I guess what I’m saying is that I feel like I don’t deserve Dr. Carl. That’s what I’m saying, isn’t it? I’ve got an inferiority complex.
It’s my health, though. I’m the one making the decisions. If something is bothering me, no one else is going to see to it that I get it taken care of.
Part of it is that I live alone. Ever have those lonely nights when you can’t sleep and you wonder “If something were to happen to me right now, how could I get help?”
I suppose, especially so since I don’t really endear myself to my neighbors. Neighbor, I mean. Specifically Old Barfy. Ugh. The thought of having to rely on that old drunkard makes me even more anxious. But I accept the consequence of my actions; I don’t rely on O.B. because I don’t think he’s reliable.
That just circles around back to the idea that I have to take care of myself. Which means, if I think something is wrong, I need to pick up the phone and call Dr. Carl, or his nurse, technically, and make sure I go in and explain what’s going on.
I learned a rule from a friend, who told me once, “My doctor and my lawyer get the full truth, no exceptions, all the details. They can’t do their jobs unless I speak up. Everyone else, though…”
Even when I might be embarrassed, I force myself to tell the complete story to Dr. Carl. Even when I’m having problems in an embarrassing part of my body, like, say, my brain.
Luckily, I’ve only had to do that with a lawyer once.