When you reach a certain age, you spend more time getting prodded and poked and tested by the medical establishment. I hear that some people, especially when they are in their senior years, actually look forward to visiting their doctors, like it’s a lunch date or something.
I don’t. Like a lot of men, I don’t enjoy going to the doctor. I don’t want bad news about my health, I don’t want them to ask for ‘samples’ to test, or to stand on the weigh scales in the open area of their offices. And I don’t want to undress and lay on a cold examination table, especially when my clothes are out of reach and the door doesn’t lock from the inside.
It’s not that I’m unhealthy or anything, in fact, despite trying to prove Newton’s first law of motion of an object at rest tending to stay at rest, I’m actually in fairly good shape, against all odds.
But, when you hit that magical age, regardless of your perceived level of health, you really do need to suck it up and get on that cold, ugly table. So, I did.
I’m starting to really understand why I find these things so unpleasant, and surprisingly, it’s not the reasons that you might think. Things like giving a blood sample, while not a happy feeling, isn’t all that bad. In fact, I even donate blood on occasion.
By the way, if you ever want to have a little fun when giving blood, there’s a question in the screening process about being close to or having contact with monkeys. When you get to this questions, ask out loud, “Does anyone know if a lemur is considered a monkey? I’ll just put down ‘no'”. That usually gets their attention.
It’s not even the actual procedures that bother me, or giving ‘samples’ that I find difficult, although it’s totally gross.
It’s all the prep stuff. I had to give some bodily fluids for testing, which seemed simple enough, since doing this is pretty normal, other than how it’s collected, but things get complicated to do that properly. First, you have to starve yourself for 12 hours, then you have to deprive yourself of any fluids for 6 hours before going to give of yourself.
They tell me that this gives them a ‘normal’ reading. Really? What’s normal about that? If they wanted a normal reading, they should come by the house around 10 at night after I’ve finished a big meal, and I’m sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and a cold beer. That’s normal!
Unless you’re a survivalist, or living in a 3rd world country, there’s nothing normal about not eating or drinking for half a day, and your body hates you for it! I really feel sorry for women who are very pregnant then have to drink 4 gallons of water, wait for an hour, then drive to the doctor’s office for an ultrasound. Then, just to test their constitution, they push on your bladder while sliding a cold, gooey devise all over your belly.
Years from now, the medical field will probably look at this like witchcraft or a weird voodoo ritual.
Hitting 50 means I had to deal with the ‘C’ word….yes, Colonoscopy. This word usually sends most men into the hills in fear, almost as quickly as the frightful ‘vasectomy’. I probably just lost half of my male readers.
I will tell you that the procedure itself was a breeze (if you’ve had one, you’re probably laughing at the ‘breeze’ reference). Really – it was not in the least way painful, uncomfortable, or in any way difficult. I was given a nice dose of a drug that put me into a dreamy snooze. I slept through the whole thing. It was great!
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, again, the prep. I won’t go into details, other than to say that they need ‘clean plumbing’ to do the procedure, so you’ll be spending a good 24 hours using a lot of bathroom supplies. Oh, and you can’t eat for about a day and a half before hand.
Luckily, if you get the all-clear (hee, hee), you don’t have to repeat it for another 10 years. I even have pictures of my procedure. I’ll share them if I don’t get enough responses to this blog…you’ve been warned!
I’d also like to know exactly when and how the medical profession, particularly dentists, figured they’d change the word ‘pain’ to ‘discomfort’. With a small drill boring into my excited tooth nerves, the dentist will say something like, “this might be uncomfortable“. I don’t know what medieval school she went to, but my idea of uncomfortable is an itchy wool sweater, not a piercing pain shooting from my hairline to my toes.
There’s something else that you never expect when you get tests done. Doctor’s who are surprised or don’t know what you’ve got. I had a few instances where medical specialists had these reactions. You don’t want your medical specialist to be surprised or baffled – ever!
A number of years ago, I was tested for allergies. I had a pretty good idea of what I was allergic to, but they had to test me to see what could be done about it. Apparently, they graph your back or arm, and do little ‘scratches’ with different types of allergens. If something swells up, or gets itchy, presto – you have an allergy.
I was asked to lay face-down on one of those lovely exam beds, then the allergy doctor did his scratching. He and his nurse left the room, and said they’d be back in about 5 minutes. It only took enough time for them to leave the room and close the door, when it felt like someone had dropped a Molotov Cocktail on my back.
The nurse came back in to get something from the room, looked at my back and said ‘Oh, my GOD!‘, then ran out of the room, yelling for the doctor. Trust me on this one. It’s not something you ever want your healthcare professional to say.
Turns out, I was more allergic to cats than I thought.
Recently, I had a growth on my right foot. Nothing serious, but the kids would tease me about the extra toe growing on the top of my foot.
Reluctantly, I went to the doctor, who sent me to a specialist to get it checked out.
While doing an ultrasound on the little growth, the doctor said, “Hmm. I have no idea what that is, but I think we should remove it”. No idea? 10 years of education, another decade of seeing people just like me every day, and she has no idea what’s growing on my foot?
I was referred to a surgeon to get my new little foot friend taken off. In the operating room, he introduced himself, examined my foot, then promptly told me what it was and what he was going to do about it. Thank goodness! Someone out there knows what they’re doing!
Like other procedures, the removal was easy…the freezing was another story all together. It felt like he let loose a swarm of angry wasps on my foot, who kept stinging me over and over. shortly, the freezing kicked in and I stopped crying.
The surgeon was performing his magic on my foot, then stopped and said “Hmm. This isn’t what I thought it was”. Super! I was halfway waiting for him to ask me if I’d been in contact with a monkey recently.
In the end, the small lump was removed and I was sewn back up, almost as good as new, but a little wary of the medical profession.
I guess medicine is like any other business, really. They’re just people who come across new things every day, and deal with them accordingly. I only wish they had more classes on how to NOT react to something new.
I also wish more research went into how to get prepared for a test without putting your body through bizarre food and water deficiencies. It doesn’t seem to make sense that preparing for a test is worse than the test itself…or the initial problem for that matter.
Anyone want to know what you need to do to prepare for a vasectomy? Anyone?