Tales from the doctor’s office.

I recently switched physicians, and because of this, had to do the whole new patient physical. A few days prior, I had to get all the preliminary lab work done, and we’d go over it during my visit. So, the day arrives, and I go to my appointment. The nurse gets me settled, and hands me a gown to put on, then leaves the room. The second I saw that gown, I was silently berating myself for not considering that this would be part of the deal. Fluorescent lighting, and exposed skin cause me nothing but anxiety. I switched into nurse mode, and told myself, “They deal with this all day long. YOU’VE dealt with this all day long at one point in your career, suck it up.” On with the gown.

The nurse comes back in, and says she’ll be doing a quick EKG. This is going to involve pulling my gown down, and again with the angst. She’s getting set up, loading me up with the EKG stickers, and we’re having casual nurse-chat, about where we’ve worked, etc. EKG goes off without a hitch, and she leaves the room. I sit up, pulling my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around my legs, and-OHMYGOD! I forgot to shave this morning! And it’s visibly clear to anyone who say, has to put stickers on my calves. I am mortified, swirling about in a vortex of shame. And now, my handsome TV doctor is about to come in, and God only knows what he’s got up his medical sleeve that would necessitate him witnessing my lackluster grooming this morning. I quickly grab a sheet and drape it over my lap. I’m aware that I’m behaving like a 15 year old girl, but at this point, I don’t care.

Dr. A enters, with his white teeth, and perfect articulation, and we have a relatively benign visit, aside from the barrage of questions I ask him about every ache, pain,general feeling of malaise and supplement I’ve had over the past year. I then relay my internal terror about working out, after I went to a spin class a few months back, and then experienced chest pains so severe afterward, that I was convinced of my imminent death. His response? “Your heart is perfectly healthy. You can’t just go from inactivity to a spin class, and expect that not to shock your body.” Ok, great. You want to take the common-sense high road with me? Fine.
Then he says he’s going to check my reflexes. Shit. That involves my legs. My unkempt legs. I immediately positioned myself in such a way that allowed him access to my knees, while shading the lower half of my legs from direct light, so that when they flung out, I wouldn’t be exposed for the unruly monster that I was. Somehow, the universe threw me a bone on this one, and I was able to avert any major embarassment.

Now, we’re onto my labs. Everything looks great, he says. Except your cholesterol. He tells me it’s a bit high. I look at the lab results, and he’s right. What am I, 60? I laugh, it finally hitting me that I’m a real, bona fide adult now. With elevated cholesterol. He starts firing off a list of culprit foods, none of which I eat. I feel compelled to say this aloud, but like a morbidly obese person ordering a crate full of chicken nuggets, 6 burgers, and a DIET COKE, I know he’ll think I’m not fooling anyone. So, I reframe the statement. “So, I by no means eat excessively healthy, but I really don’t eat those foods you just mentioned.” There it is, in his eyes. The belief that I’m lying to him. He is very kind, and says, “Well, then what types of things do you eat?” I tell him, and he says that those things could be causing it, too. “Let’s cut them out, and I’ll recheck in 4 months.” In my approval-seeking mind, I’m already seeing this like an assignment, a project, one that I need to really need to hit out of the park. And perseverate on, for the next 16 weeks. But, if the average patient doesn’t meet or exceed expectations, then I am bound and determined to be the best. To be the best at cholesterol-reducing. And remembering to shave before my next appointment.

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