I recently had my annual physical with my primary care physician. It’s an appointment I hate. I don’t hate the doc and I don’t hate it for all the same reasons most people do … blood draws, afraid of results, afraid of the scale, being reprimanded, etc. I hate it because I have a nervous break down taking my clothes off in front of anyone. You’d think after all these years I’d be used to it. Nope, not me; it’s gotten worse. I get extraordinarily uncomfortable, my adrenalin increases, I start shaking, yapping incessantly and up goes my blood pressure. Can’t we just do this with my clothes on?
This particular doc is young, in her thirties and I really like her. She looks at me more as an equal than a “dumb” patient. Her messages are “Hi, this is Liza.” That helps. She does not dismiss any opposing views I have and we discuss them to the medical level that I understand. She never talks over my head and if she uses a word or abbreviation I don’t understand, I just ask and she explains in perfect Doris English. In fact, she offers to research issues for me.
But I still couldn’t get past what I still knew was hovering … she tends to like to do EKGs on her diabetic patients regardless of age, blood sugar control, weight, etc. I knew it was coming and I dreaded it. Take all the blood you want but keep those EKG leads away from me.
As I said, normally I don’t have a theoretic problem with blood draws. Take all you want. However, I do get dizzy. At my last visit, I sat in the chair in the exam room. The blood sucker asked me to climb up on the table. I told her that wasn’t a good idea since I get dizzy. She whined and I asked what the problem was … she didn’t want to bend over! Poor baby. Who is the paying customer and do you really want to pick this paying customer up off the floor or would you prefer to bend over for 30 seconds? I won of course.
So this time, I asked if it was the same blood sucker. It was not. It was a young gentleman. He was very quick but alas, it was very uncomfortable. Come to find out it was fast because he used a bigger needle, thus, it hurt. Hmmm … what’s my preference?
I also posed the seemingly negative question “You’re not doing the EKG are you.” He responded “No, why.” I said “Because I don’t take my clothes off in front of men.” He reiterated that he wasn’t but I’d be out of luck if there weren’t any women around. I told him “No, you’d be out of luck because I wouldn’t do it.” Alas, it was a young lady who came and did the EKG. I told her how uncomfortable I was and she helped me stay covered up as much as possible, was quick, pleasant and efficient. Still, the experience was torturous in my mind but a lot less so than it could have been.
The morale of my story … you’re the paying customer. You’ve got to go to these appointments. However, if you’re like me and you dread going to the doctor’s office for any reason, try to address why you hate it so much. Then, take the bull by the horns, remember you are the customer and modify the situation within reasonable limits (e.g. demanding you sit in a chair or have a gender preference for a particular procedure). Then take a deep breathe, count to ten and suck up the part you hate and can’t change. Promise yourself a small treat if that’s what it takes to get through it. It’ll be over soon. I promise. You'll be the healthier for it.