Scary Things

This Halloween I did something frightening. I was approximately 15 years overdue for my next check-up so I went to the doctor. You see, I am an avoider of doctors and a procrastinator by nature. Put those two skills together and you get a person who intends to make an appointment with a doctor tomorrow except not really. However, I’m not getting any younger and if my health heads south along with my bosom I’d like someone with actual medical training to have my back, instead of relying on WebMD. Not that WebMD isn’t great because it is, there’s just a lot of room for misinterpretation. One minute it’s an itchy spot behind your left knee and the next it’s gangrene.

My new doctor has the same last name as my favorite cousin which is why  I chose her. I realize now that one doesn’t choose doctors this way when one is supposedly grown and if one does choose doctors this way one shouldn’t tell judgy people about it. I’m telling you but you’re not judgy, are you? I filled out the mountain of paperwork answering all 3, 329 questions, which is more than there are on the MCAT, and arrived ten minutes early to make a good impression. Then I answered all 3,329 questions again in person. It wasn’t even 8:30 AM and already they were trying to break me.

This new doctor is nice if you like that doctor-y type. Things were actually progressing well until she did that thing I hate. You know, that thing where they start talking about your last tetanus shot and when it was blah blah blah? I tried to be coy. I tried changing the subject. In the end Dr. Nosy Parker won and I admitted that I probably did not get to test a new 20-year tetanus prototype at my last check-up.

Doctor 1. Chicken 0.

The doctor left and an evil nurse appeared with instruments of torture. As she rolled up my sleeve she explained that my arm would be sore the rest of the day which seemed unnecessary under the circumstances. Then she said, “a little cold” now and wiped the alcohol pad against my arm. I turned away. “A little pinch now”, she said. I closed my eyes tight. “All set!”, she announced. Wait, What? All set? ALL SET? That’s it? That didn’t even hurt. That was nothing! Why do all those babies make such a big deal? I’ve had mosquito bites more painful.

I am so proud of myself. Today a shot. Next month a colonoscopy. Baby steps.

Chicken out

  15 comments for “Scary Things

  1. Bella Rum
    November 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I’m proud of you, too. Now keep it up. Regular appointments. And all that.


  2. November 1, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Glad you mustered the courage to go and all is good. Shots and blood draws do not phase me, but the part of the pelvic exam that includes the one-finger salute to the poop chute gives me the cold sweats. Or it would give me the cold sweats if they gave me enough time to think about — oh hello! When my petite Filipino doctor retired and was replaced by a tall, rugged American doctor, I hadn’t thought about how much I would miss those small hands.


    • November 2, 2017 at 12:18 am

      Haha-I know a guy who says the same thing. He prefers women doctors because small fingers!


  3. November 1, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    The best thing about doctors is they can be interchangeable. If you cannot sway one to your point of view, find another. You are well enough educated by WebMD to have a decent understanding of a problem. Since you took time to do that, allow yourself to take time to find a doctor you like. (However, I may never forgive Dr. Huong for being so unhappy with Cleveland Clinic that he moved to Columbus to do his research at the medical school.)

    • November 2, 2017 at 12:12 am

      That’s true, Joanne. With my WebMD viewer certification I’ve bought myself some time to be picky, right? I think the new one will work out fine, though. She listens and asks thoughtful questions. She’s a little serious but I suppose you have to be to get through med school. Guess what my favorite Dr. did? Went on a two year sailing trip around the world with her husband and kids. At least she said it would be two years. She’s not back yet. Guess she found another port she liked more.


  4. Doug in Oakland
    November 1, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Previous to my stroke, I had been to the doctor one time since I was seventeen. That time was for a foot x-ray after I dropped a ramp on it at work. I was forty-four. The x-rays said my foot was OK. It did not, in fact, feel OK. But it wasn’t broken, so I could go back to work when the pain died down.
    The time before, when I was seventeen, was for grinding the end of my finger off in a metal grinder at school. Remember when kids could weld and use metal grinders at school? I don’t remember that injury much, but I remember the tetanus booster they gave me like it was yesterday. I feel about needles roughly the way you feel about spiders.
    After my stroke, they assigned me a doctor in the Adult Medicine Clinic at Highland Hospital. I love Dr. Nelson. When I went blind from cataracts back in 2014, he got me into the Ophthalmology Clinic there, and now I have 20/25 in my right eye and 20/40 in my left. Oh yeah, thank you Dr. Huang!
    A good doctor can really make your life a lot better, and a bad doctor can straight up kill you, like that butcher of a neurosurgeon in Eureka almost did to my mom, and did do to my boss’s wife.
    So if you have a good one, hang onto them, if you can.
    It’s a strangely good feeling having a real doctor I can talk to after all of those years, let alone one as excellent as Dr. Nelson.


    • November 1, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      I’m glad you have a good one, Doug. And I know what you mean about it being a good feeling. That’s why I want a good doctor. This neurosurgeon-was it a famous case I should have heard about or a story that you’ve told me before? What happened? I had a crazy pediatrician once. I made appointments for all three kids to have check-ups with her. We were new to the area and she was taking patients so I took them. She ordered all kinds of crazy tests on the one who was just getting over a bad cold (the youngest). And then she called me later and told me I had better get him to the ER right away. I told her he seemed much better and she said, “I’m just saying, if it were my kid I’d have him in the ER”. Well, you know, doctors can make you feel like a crappy parent, especially when you are a young single parent. So I put him in the car on a cold winter night, sat in the ER for five hours, and finally the ER doctor pronounced him well but the doctor who sent him a loon who had pulled the same thing in the past. I reported her but the insurance company didn’t seem interested. My new doctor seems not loony, which is a good sign.


      • Doug in Oakland
        November 2, 2017 at 4:51 am

        I don’t think there were any news stories about Dr. Kramer (wait, I just checked and there is one, but it’s behind a paywall and I mostly just wanted to know if I was spelling the bastard’s name correctly), but back in the day, there weren’t that many choices for a neurosurgeon in Eureka,

        When I was in High School, my boss in the warehouse where I worked told me about how Dr. Kramer killed his wife: “She walked into his office with neck pain, and by the time he was done with her she was dead.” He went on to describe the painful process she had to endure after the failed surgery, involving neck and shoulder braces connected to screws in her skull.

        OK, now for my mom: She had debilitating headaches for years, sometimes so bad that she would go to the doctor and get a shot of Demerol and just be out of commission for a day or so. At the time, she called them migraines, mostly because that’s what you think of when you think of a headache that severe.
        In the eighties, after I had moved to Oakland, she sought more medical advice about them and somehow managed to get referred to Dr. Kramer. His diagnosis was that she had a badly atrophied disc in her neck and that she needed surgery to fuse the vertebrae on either side of it.
        He did the surgery, which involves drilling between the vertebrae and fitting a bone plug in the space which is supposed to heal up like a broken bone and make them into one continuous bone. The bone plug he used was from a cadaver, and not only did it not set, my mom’s body rejected it, and she was on continuous high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs and her mobility was severely limited and deteriorating.
        My sister, who has a pre-med degree from UC Berkeley, and was living in Oakland at the time, found out and went ballistic. She had mom flown to San Francisco and examined at Stanford. They recommended a surgeon at Presbyterian Hospital in SF, and he rebroke her neck, took a bone plug from her hip and set it properly, and the operation was a success.
        The next time I saw her was three months later, and she was riding off down the beach on a Honda Four Trax.
        But that isn’t the worst part, the “bad doctor” part.
        Nope, that part came when she found out what had really been causing the headaches, and that he had entirely missed but persisted with damaging treatment anyway: My mother had a brain tumor.
        It seems, in retrospect, that if you were examining someone for really severe headaches, you would check for that.
        Anyway, I didn’t mean to write a documentary about this, but I kind of still have anger issues about Dr. Kramer, and the story does illustrate why i have a lot of respect for good doctors.


      • November 2, 2017 at 11:26 am

        Wow-yeah a lot of respect for good doctors and, I would think, some trust issues with doctors in general? What a jerk. Thank God your sister had some medical training and knew something was off.


  5. jenny_o
    November 1, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    Big pat on the back for you, Chicken. It’s really hard to work up the courage to see a doctor if you don’t actually feel like you might die if you didn’t see one. Or is that just me?

    That reminds me, I need my flu shot . . .


    • November 2, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Hi Jenny-well, courage and initiative. Really, the hardest part is just choosing one that is also taking new patients. I’ve never had a flu shot. I’ll regret it if I get the flu.


    • November 2, 2017 at 12:16 am



      • jenny_o
        November 2, 2017 at 1:03 am

        I’m going to need the code book to crack this message, Chicken! LOL


      • November 2, 2017 at 11:27 am

        What the heck? That’s like chicken scratch or something. I must have been in a fugue state haha.


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