I was just walking in the door as I heard a message from my doctor’s office being left on the answering machine. I’d already had a traumatic day having been to the dentist and told I needed to have a couple of teeth extracted. And for a mere $4,200 apiece they’d include a bone graft and implant. Then about three months after that (and for an outrageous additional fee) I could get the actual implant crown. The cost was staggering since insurance pays such a paltry amount and the procedure didn’t sound like that much fun, either. I’d be pretty close to knocked out so “you won’t remember a thing.” These words are supposed to calm your fears. “And not to worry, but you may have some slight discomfort.” Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I know all about “not remembering a thing,” and “slight discomfort.”
Having said all that, I was in no mood to talk to the doctor’s office. So I waited until the next day to call them back. Surnuf, it was time for my six month “well exam visit.” And if I wanted my medications refilled I’d best make an appointment right now. Unfortunately, they had plenty of openings that week so I couldn’t very well put it off.
Arriving a little early for these appointments has proven to be a good thing since the front desk lady consistently has homework for me. This time she handed me a three page survey to fill out. She said, “This is a yearly information sheet required by Medicare.” As I began reading it I realized I’d never been given one of these before and furthermore, the questions were foreign and unusual. For instance, it asked if I was able to feed myself, if I had a good support network, if I leaked after urination, if I’d fallen down within the last two weeks, if I’d felt depressed or paranoid, if I needed help taking a bath…just to name a few. I started thinking I was being targeted with the need for this kind of info because of my age. I even double checked with my husband’s doctor’s office to see if they had this same form. (Dang, maybe I am paranoid!)
One of the pages was a request for an update on my medications. I’m always ready for this one…I carry a comprehensive, typed sheet of all my drugs. This includes: name, (generic, too) dosage, frequency, malady it’s used to treat and all vitamins. So when I come to the section (which only has three skinny short blank lines for this info) I simply write in “see attached” and hand that back to the front desk. They always protest and want to make a copy but each time I insist they keep what I’ve given them…just sorta makes me feel like I’m in charge.
As is the routine, I saw the nurse first, who weighed me and definitely needs glasses for reading what the scale indicates. I know this for certain because I weighed myself at home that morning and was six pounds lighter. After going into an operatory (you know the drill) I was asked to take off all my clothing, including my bra and panties. I don’t know why they have to go into such detail…”Take off your undergarments,” would be sufficient. Then she hands me the “dreaded” paper-thin “gown” and instructs me to tie it in the back. Have you ever tried to tie one of those things in the back?!! And even if you could it hardly covers your naked bottom. So you sigh and just sit there on “the doctor’s work bench” which is what my husband calls the exam table. And you sit there and you sit there in this room, which is always 20 degrees colder than it needs to be. Soon you begin shivering and displaying goose bumps and wishing you’d worn socks and shoes instead of sandals.
Finally the doctor comes in, all apologies for running behind, and puts the icy stethoscope underneath the “flimsy gown.” She says take a deep breath in and then blow it out. Having a little trouble here with this one since the shock of the frigid stethoscope has taken my breath away. Then she pokes here, prods there, pushes that and kneads other areas. In conclusion she shakes her head as she reads the extensive litany of medications listed in my chart. She’s relieved to discover that many of them are vitamins. I reach out to her for suggestions on how I can lose a few pounds, still convinced the nurse needs glasses.
The good doctor asks, “What time of day do you crave snacks the most?”
“That’s easy…at night while I watch TV.”
“Well then,” she says, “just go to bed instead of eating.” I didn’t care much for that suggestion…in fact, I wondered why I’d even asked for advice to begin with.
“You can get dressed now. The nurse will be in in a minute to take you up to the check out counter.” I knew I could take my time putting my clothes back on (including my under garments) because the nurse is never there in a minute. But since icicles were beginning to form on my upper lip, I did rush a bit. I rushed only to wait and wait and wait. Finally, I got aggravated and opened the door so I could stick my nose out. There was no sign of life in the vast hallway. Actually, it was eerily dark. There were so many operatories and none of them had patients or lights on.
I finally spotted a nurse person at the far end of the hall and there were two men, obviously pill pushers (pharmaceutical reps) handing out samples. As I approached and she saw me, I began to explain that I had been waiting a very long time for my check out nurse. This lady asked me just how long I’d been waiting and I told her about two days. I guess she liked my answer because she paged my nurse who appeared within minutes. I was reading over the paperwork she handed me when I saw the words, “need a large tube.” I knew I was going to have blood drawn but this sounded ominous. In my mind I was envisioning a large tube connected to a huge needle. Fortunately, this was not the case and the blood sucking went quite well.
The lab work results will be mailed to me in a few days and I’m expecting that all things considered, the outcome will be positive.
So, now all I have to worry about is going back to the dentist. But, of course, that will be a piece of cake because although I’ll have some “slight discomfort, I won’t remember a thing!”
Read Cindy’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.