January 8, 2009

Going to the doctor

I once knew a man who had bypass surgery. The first day we met, I walked into his kitchen and there on the kitchen counter lined up in a row, were his meds....oh so many! He explained, "I just told the doc, give me a pill for everything, because I'm not following any rules, no diets, no restrictions for me...." I was horrified! I thought how irresponsible, especially when he cooked a pound of bacon every Sat morning! Doctors should fire patients like him. Or patients like my father who are extremely friendly with their doctors but do exactly what they want, following only the rules they choose. I wanted to be like my dear mother who religiously obeyed. Yes...I would always be like her, or at least I planned to be!

My PCP is kind and gentle. He looks like his Lebanese mother but sounds like his Irish father, his easy manner reveals his island upbringing. This week I went to see him. Here is how it went....

I tell him my concerns, I tell him I want to be fixed of all my complaints (similar to what I say to my mechanic)...I want to be healthy, I want to see my grandchildren grow up, I want to go back to Africa and India. I don't want you to treat symptoms, that's what I do. I need him to find out if anything is wrong. (That's what I convey to him kindly.) Being a good diagnostician is essential in a doctor. He listens, and asks why am I there today ? Well, I cancelled the last 3 appts for cholesterol checks. Hmmmm...he brings up the Lipitor. I give him a lot of lengthy excuses about insurance and other difficulties until I confess I haven't been talking it. Everything is about the Lipitor with him. Every complaint I have, he tells me I should take the Lipitor. But I am guilty and quiet.

"Haven't you read the Crestor report?" his concern pains me a little, so I tell him to order it for me and I'll take it. I promise! He says good, there is a 5 mg, I tell him no, give me a 10mg and I'll cut it in half and save money. He agrees that it a great idea. I explain it isn't original, one of the insurance companies sent me a pill cutter.

"Will you let me do an EKG? Will you go to the neurologist? Blood work?" he says as he types on the computer with his back to me. Of course, why is he phrasing his questions that way? Turning, he says well, I am not very compliant, he reminds me of everything I have not done, Lipitor, mammogram, ultrasound, bone scan, colonoscopy. Panicked, I jump off the table and peer over his shoulder.

"Are you writing "non-compliant" in my file??!" I ask frantically. "Oh dear!! Please don't put that in there, pleeeeese!!" Non-compliance in our business means rule-to-show-cause, fines...nothing very good. It's a label I do not want. I scan the monitor, until I realize I have become a Elaine on Seinfeld. He laughs out loud and assures me he hasn't. He promises. I remind him I lost 25 lbs. and that is good?....he nods. Sometimes they just forget the right things you do!

The tech who does the EKG and takes my blood is lovely, we speak of her job, her dreams left behind, her wisdom and a beloved grandmother who has passed away, leaving a hole in her heart. She notices Crestor is prescribed and returns with samples, 12 weeks of Crestor 10mg that will last me 24 weeks! (Well maybe a couple of years the way I take it, just kidding)

The doctor returns before I leave, we talk about his ankle surgery. He tells me he has to be in therapy for two more years, explaining the damage done. I ask him if he does everything he's suppose to do, he confesses, "Of course not."

"How old are you? You are too young not to take care of such an important joint! That will become arthritic!" He shakes his head, he knows it's true, maybe that is why he shows me so much grace. I repentantly call to him as he leaves.

"I'm kind of bossy..right?" he nods then turns...and says he likes it, it helps him.

I call to him again, "Okay! Then you take care of that foot and I'll be compliant! I'll be healthy so we can come to your bed and breakfast one day when I am old" I hear him laughing in the hallway. He told me once his dream was to have a bed and breakfast on an island and do humanitarian work, but first he must make a living and raise his family. Such an worthy ultimate goal in life.... I really like this doctor.

As I walk to the corner to catch the bus I realize I am a hypocrite and not much different from the man with the bacon and pills on the counter, at least he was honest about it. And worst of all, I have become my father, in everyone's business AND non-compliant!.....but most of all, I am just happy I didn't get fired! Yes...I will do ALL those right things....I have to...I promised!

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