Like an intelligent woman that I sometimes I am, I regularly go to a gynecologist. But the "regular" doctor? Not so much. I figure I get my heart rate and blood pressure checked at the gyne (along with my women parts), so what else would a regular doctor really do? I do try to get to one of those about every four or five years, and I get blood work, so I figure I am all set. Not quite, I guess.
I was last at the "regular" doctor about 3 years and 10 months ago. I had been having leg pains, and I worried that it was something serious. So the doc checked me out and did some blood work. Nothing came of that, life went on, so I figured I was in the clear.
Then a few months ago, I had to pick a PCP because of my new (via job) health insurance, and I went with that same practice I had gone to almost four years ago. The doctor's office pretty much said in a letter that if I did not make an appointment, they would not consider me a patient. So even though I figured I had almost another 1.5 years to go (since this was several months ago), I made the appointment. Which I canceled about a week out, as I felt as if I was too busy at work. In reality, I figured since I had my last tetanus shot in 1988, the doctor would probably want me to get one. Have I mentioned how much I hate needles? I birthed a child without drugs just to avoid the needle in my spine, for the love of Pete.
But after listening to some people make fun of me for being such a baby, I put on my big girl pants and made another appointment, which was last week. As the days started to get closer, I started to worry about blood work, in addition to the tetanus shot. Have I mentioned that I often pass out when I give blood? And that my veins sometimes collapse?
As you can probably imagine, I was pretty worked up when I got to the office. The nurse who took my blood pressure commented that it was up a bit, which it never is. I told her about my needle issue. I repeated my same concern when the doctor came in. The good news (for me) was that I was not going to be able to do the blood work because I had not fasted for the past 10 hours. But she still recommended I get the several-decades-overdue shot. And then, as she was wrapping up our brief appointment, I told her that I had been having some leg and arm pain lately. She looked in my file and commented that it sounded like what had been going on last time (almost four years ago). She reviewed my blood work, which I had never seen, and said that back then, something or other was slightly elevated, which might explain the pain. I asked her what that meant, and she replied that I might have some muscle damage. Come again? I was wondering why no one bothered to tell me about this elevated something or other back then. But I said nothing, as I could not get that Seinfeld episode of Elaine complaining at the doctor's office out of my head. And then that was it. She told me to schedule my blood work, which would include that something or other in addition to a cholesterol test, and I was to wait for the nurse for the tetanus shot. She also said now that I am over 40, I really should see a doctor every year.
I waited almost 10 minutes, at which point the nurse came back to check my blood pressure. I told her she had to be kidding if she thought it was going to be down, as I was just sitting there thinking about the shot. And, of course, it barely budged. But after all that, the super nice nurse really put me at ease, and, much to my amazement, the shot did not even hurt. Heck, I could have gotten the flu shot (I went for the mist).
And even my blood work, which I did yesterday, went well. No passing out (though I had a juice box at the ready, which the blood dude handed to me as soon as I was done). However, running for a couple of minutes to catch my bus just 30 minutes later was probably not the best idea.
So what have I learned from this ordeal?
- Needles are not so bad! Granted my arm hurt for two days after the tetanus shot, but the actual shot was pretty much nothing.
- I still don't see a compelling reason to go to the doctor every year. The only thing the doctor did different from my gyne was she had me breath and cough. I realize I am no doctor, but I would think if I had a breathing problem, I would know it (and I would get it checked out); I just can't imagine a doctor being able to pick up on anything serious just via a stethoscope, but I did not spend years in medical school to know that to be true.
- If you are someone with my memory and who is a big baby, it might be a good idea to write down some things to talk to the doctor about. I have also been having headaches, which I mentioned to the nurse, but I forgot to bring it up with the doctor because I was worried about the impending shot. So now that will go unchecked until next year. Or, maybe three or four years, when I next decide to go back...
In any event, cheers to good health, which is hopefully mine and yours!