This week I had a physical for the first time in… well, a while. I think I had a primary care physician in the last town I lived in, but I only had one because my insurance made me have one – I don’t even know her name or where her office was.
So, now that I’ve moved I figured it was time to be a grown-up and have a doctor and not diagnose and treat every ailment with a combination of WebMD, my Mom’s advice, and things sold at CVS. Also, I needed more migraine drugs and it turns out that the pharmacy is reluctant to give those away with out a prescription from a real live doctor.
I called and officially registered myself as a patient and then scheduled my appointment. (“Well, it looks like we have tomorrow at 4 open due to a cancellation.” “Gee, that’s a little soon, what do you have after that?” “The next open appointment is November 30th.”“Ooook, see you tomorrow then!” ) The doctor was nice and even sent my prescription directly to the pharmacy on this little nifty handheld thingy. And then he asked me when I wanted to do my blood-work, and I replied “??????“
He explained that since I am a new patient they like to check everything out to make sure that my glucose and kidney function and thyroid and blah blah blah are normal. At first I kind of balked at the thought (I was just there for the drugs, man… and if they wanted to look at my ears and nose and listen to my heart, too, that was fine, but really, what’s the fuss with all this other stuff?) but then I stopped for a second and it struck me:
This is exactly how my boss found out she had cancer 3 months ago. She went to the doctor for shoulder pain. Since it was a new doctor (and since she hadn’t had a physical since her daughter – who is now 10 – was born) he wanted some blood drawn for standard tests. And just like that – just because of that – she found out that she has colon cancer.
I’m not sure how much about her I feel comfortable sharing on this (very public) space, even though I don’t think an earthly soul has ever read it and probably no one ever will, but just in case I’ll make this less about her and more about me (which has the added bonus of being all about me, and who doesn’t love that).
J’s diagnosis was, and continues to be, a shock. As cliche as it sounds, I never imagined that someone so close to me could go through this. She is an incredibly strong and wonderful woman, and I have every confidence that she will finish her treatments and be well and never look back. However, her illness made me realize how quickly something like that could happen. I found myself wondering how I could cope if something like this happened to me or to someone I love, and I sure as hell don’t think I could cope as well as J has. She has a grace and a quiet confidence in her ability to beat this that will probably do as much for her as the chemicals that the doctors pump into her veins each week.
All of this has made me think quite a bit about the way we treat ourselves and the importance that we give to our own health. And while I’m sure that my own blood-work will come back normal and that the entire experience will be boiled down to my own whining about missing an hour of work and not being able to eat for 12 hours, I’m damn well going to go and have it done.