Thursday, September 06, 2007

Analyze This . . and this . . . and this

OK. I survived the checkup.

List in my journal:

-- Muzak makes me feel like I'm late to something big--and it isn't happening in this waiting area.

--Note to self: Need an IPod.

--Cute teenage boy in cargo shorts with a bloody syringe taped to his jugular, tubes running under his polo shirt.

--Grey-ponytailed hippy dude exuding unfiltered Camels (I adore the smell--still stunned I was able to stop. I don't quit bad things easily). He's battling with reception for information and a smile, his prosthetic peg-leg skinny as Ahab's--grounded by a huge Adidas sneaker.

--Never mind.

--Siberia, anyone?

--White paper gown. Fluorescent everything.

--Diabolical signage.

--Concrete. Steel.

--Insight: compared to this, the Woman's prison in Raleigh feels like Grandma's kithchen.

--My diagnosis:
--Low pulse and blood pressure. OK, the pipes and pump work.
--Question: So where do I hold the stress: In my fat? DEEPER?
--Doc made appointments with:

PT: injured rotator cuff, 4 years ago
ObGyn: "Just to rule out . . ."
Gastro: "You might have a bit of . . ."
Radiology: mammogram, routine

--My hypocondriac mother would bliss out.
--I'll cancel.
--I'm good at that.

The Upshot:

--I'm not worried. I mean it. This is a first.

--Refrigerator quote reads:
'Life is too short to live it scared.'

--I wrote it.

--P.S. After spending the first 50 years in terror.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

To The Doctor

What, you might ask, does a calming photo of a Rhode Island glacial pond with a canoe have to do with the title of this blog: to the doctor?

In a few minutes, I'm heading out for a physical--the first I've had in several years. I used to be an extreme hypocondriac, until my own son died and then I suffered some very real (life-threatening) health problems. It's a good cure--reality--but I hate to recommend it. Now I just want to, you know, live every day to the fullest and all that.

Ok, so I'm no longer a hypocondriac but, still, the thought of sitting in that chilly, sterile exam room in a paper gown is making my fingers shake right now. So I carry in my mind a comforting image--the canoe on the pond.

In workshops where we're writing about difficult material, I tell folks to find a calming place. I have people write about the place--the smells, sights, sounds. I'll write about this canoe scene
. . . in the doctor's waiting room.

It's not that I'm nervous, really, it's just that I comfort myself, always, by jotting in my trusty journal.

When I'm with the doctor, I will record what she's saying to me--just in case I find myself leaving my body or something.

Yes, I am nervous, day of appointment, but I'm not a hpyocondriac. My mother, on the other hand, goes to the doctor twice a day and takes her temperature six times a day. She is perfectly healthy. To create balance in the universe, I go to the doctor about twice a decade.

Anyway, here'a a book I highly recommend: How Doctors Think
I adore medical writing--stuff about other people's diseases and struggles. Here Groopman gets inside doctors' heads (he's one himself as well as a patient in his own book) and lets readers know the assumptions doctors are making as they look at patients, and much more. I'm a little edgy right now so can't think straight and write more about all of this-- except to quote advice one of Groopman's mentors says to him, about a doctor's urgency to diagnose, prescribe, solve--maybe too quickly:


I'm going to tell my doctor this . . . but I'll write it in my journal before I leave. If I don't I'll forget--I'm not a hypocondriac, honestly, but I do still get white lab-coat amnesia.

I'll post again soon . . . if I'm still alive.