In addition to moles and skin spots and along with growing intolerance for younger generations, I’ve begun to accumulate doctors as I mature.
Aside from the various ER doctors who sewed me up, cast my broken limbs, and x-rayed me for possible foreign objects, I have a couple of surgeons, a neurosurgeon, an internal medicine guy, a neurologist, an orthopedist, an ophthalmologist, a cornea specialist, a psychiatrist and a gastroenterologist. The psychiatrist is the only one who predicts I’ll never be well again.
Translated to ‘redneck’ that means I have a doctor to do operations, a brain doctor, my family doctor, a nerve doctor, a bone doctor, two different eye doctors, a shrink and a medically certified roto-rooter man.
Obviously, since I have so many, I must love doctors, when in fact, I can barely stand them. Even the ones I think of as ‘friends.’ Doctors have the bad habit of making their living by sticking their noses in other people’s business. I say that with a complete understanding that if I were a woman, I’d have a gynecologist on my string of doctors too. I actually was thinking of my gastroenterologist when I said that.
I recently changed from my last doctor to my newest doctor because I got tired of Dr. Dementia, as I called him, trying to convince me I should be taking lithium. Well, there was that, plus the fact that he couldn’t seem to remember that I’m a survivor of a traumatic brain injury. I don’t think he had ever heard the term before he met me. Did I mention that he’s from Argentina?
Yeah, Argentina. Not that there’s anything wrong with being from Argentina, if you want to stir up communism in other South American countries or seduce an American politician. Come to think of it, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two, but that’s another rabbit trail entirely.
Which explains why I found myself in another waiting room filling out the ‘new patient’ forms that ask all sorts of invasive questions. I tried to be as thorough as possible.
“Why have you come to the doctor today?” I’m changing doctors.
“How long have you had this problem?” Three years.
“Whom do we have to thank for this referral?” God.
There was more, too. Aside from my medial history, they wanted to know about my personal habits.
“Do you drink alcohol?” Yes
“If ‘yes,’ how much?” Too much. I figured I might as well get that in up front, rather than have to argue about it later. When the doctor finally saw me, he asked, “Do you drink too much?” According to my daughters, I do. “Well, do you drink every day?” No, if I’m in a coma, I abstain. If I’m not in a coma, I drink beer every day. “Do you drink at 10 o’clock in the morning?” Only at the beach. “You’re fine.” I liked this guy.
They also wanted a family medical history. “Is your father living or deceased?” Deceased. “If deceased, age at death?” Sixty-nine. “Cause of death?” He was give out. Seriously, they want me to list his cause of death in a space 3/8 of an inch long? Well, he smoke for forty-years, drank like a fish, ate all the wrong kinds of food and farted as frequently as possible. A life like that takes a toll on a man.
They also wanted the same info on my mother, who died at the age of seventy-six after surviving everything from raising me to oat-cell carcinoma. I put her cause of death as ‘old age.’
Then they started in on my brother, so I lied and said he died of being a jerk, despite the fact that he’s alive and well and practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia. When the questions started focusing on my wife, who was seated next to me filling out her own set of forms, I suggested that the keep practicing medicine and quit meddling.
Then the forms wanted to know if I ever had to get up at night to go to the bathroom? Duh? Weren’t you paying attention when I said I drink beer every night? Of course, there wasn’t room for that, so I just checked the ‘yes’ box. “If ‘yes,’ how many times?” Every DAMN time. When I quit getting up to got to the bathroom, one of my daughters will be filling out these forms for me.
Eventually I saw the doctor’s nurse who took my blood pressure and tested my pulse and then left. Then the doctor came in, we became friends, he ordered bloodwork and an appointment with the roto-rooter man, and refilled all my prescriptions, which is why I was there in the first place.
The good news is that he didn’t try to convince me to start taking lithium. But then, he doesn’t really know me that well. Yet.