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.


Anonymous said...

By now I hope you are scribbling madly in your journal, warding off the waiting room jitters, and can almost hear the paddle in that canoe dripping water. Here's hoping for a doctor who will just stand there for a bit, and then give you an uneventful report. My own tip when doctor-nervousness and (okay, I'll admit to it) distrust flare up: Breathe deeply. I tend to sort of pant shallowly, and this can be mistaken for lung problems....
See you soon,
Julie H.

calsea said...

Yeah -- my approach to doctors at this point is pretty much the same as yours, Carol. Avoid whenever possible! Sad, but true. My own quiet spot is an eddy in the rocks of Half Moon Bay in CA, -- with a bufflehead duck floating near by if I am looking for some action - :)

And, yes breathing is good . . . carol p

Anonymous said...

Here is one aspect of the medical profession I was not prepared for--once you start taking some lifesaving medications--for blood presssure, heart, cholesterol, allergies, etc--you are forced to see the doctor with regularity--every 3 months, or 6 months or yearly.
I hope your appointment went well and that you dont have to write on this topic again for a long long time.
Peggy C.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that when something unpleasant is looming, dentist drill, mammogram, family confrontation, I immediately zone out to the dinghy floating on a lake (dusk, mirror surface) where I fished and escaped to when I was fourteen. Amazed at the similarities in our calming image! Keep that canoe handy. C. B.

Wanda H said...

Hi Carol,

I hope your appointment went off without a hitch, nothing too major, and you can relax now, at least until it's time for the next one, Doc appointment that is...

I went yesterday for my biopsy, I think I mentioned it to you the other day when we first met, anyway, once I got there the female doctors I ended up with totally were against doing the biopsy, I was sent home, wondering what the heck just happened. Long story...

Next is the upper endoscopy, not looking forward to that one either...

Enough about my health mess, I sure hope you got a fabulous report.

Keep blogging, I love reading them..

Best Wanda H.