I’ve just come in from taking the morning sun.
I apologize for the lack of posts, I’m preoccupied with transitioning my mother from one senior living facility to another. The need to move her came rather unexpectedly; we’d thought she was set and secure where she was, but, alas, things change, people change, and one needs must do what one must.
(Pardon that last sentence; I’m deeply in love with Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life”, which I have been reading in waiting rooms and every spare moment during the past few days. It is lovely, brilliant, magical, and a staggering feat of technique and literary acumen and imagination. Too, she often uses the construction “needs must” and so I’ve been jamming it into every exchange I possibly can.)
In addition to parent issues, I’ve my own adventures with the medical profession to which I’ve been attending. Yesterday was the long-awaited follow-up appointment at which was to be discussed the results of the blood tests that have left my left arm still a large bruise.
I arrived at 10:00 a.m. for my 10:15 appointment. At precisely 10:15 a young lady in unfortunate Sears-y looking nurse attire bellowed, “Smith,” to which I jumped in response. After having led me to an exam room, weighed, temperatured, and blood pressured me (all quite good) she asked, “Why are you here today?”
It seems to me she ought to have known the answer to that. However, I smiled and said, “This is a follow-up, scheduled by the doctor.” She shrugged and went on her way, offering the over the shoulder parting shot of, “I’ll let the doctor know you’re here and she’ll be right in.” This filled me with a hope I ought to have known better than to entertain.
A FULL HOUR LATER – not kidding – the doctor waltzed in. No apology. No acknowledgement that I’d been left in a freezing room for an hour.
Long, short, she didn’t know why I was there either. She hadn’t reviewed the test results. She furiously went at her laptop, trying to figure out who I was and what was wrong with me. Nothing. As far as I’m concerned, anyway.
She did not agree. Listen, I worked for a health insurance company and I have seen the medical-drug-industrial complex grow in power and influence throughout my life. It is in their interest to set up standards of “normal” that are near-impossible to achieve and then convince all of us we ought to be using prophylactic prescriptions requiring frequent testings and exams at which we’re told we’re not quite right, in order that they may all keep raking in an income.
Not me, no thanks. She said my cholesterol was higher than it ought to be. I said, “How do you know that when I’ve never had it checked before? My cholesterol may have been that level my entire life.” She said it was too high and I needed to go on medication. I said she was apparently high and I would not be doing that.
She then told me my my A1C was elevated. Not, mind you, diabetic level, but could be. Some day. She considered me – because of my family history – to be pre-diabetic and I ought to cut back on sugar. Well, I’d have to actually CONSUME sugar FIRST to cut back on it. I suggested that everyone who was NOT diabetic in this country was pre-diabetic and I already followed a rather healthy diet.
She then told me I needed to have a colonoscopy. I was “that age” – well, I said, perhaps, but I had no intention of being drugged up and probed unless there was romantic music and a twenty-year old, naked male – sporting a condom, of course – involved. Surprisingly, she did not find this amusing.
She also told me I was “seriously vitamin D deficient” – she suggested prescribing a vitamin. I suggested, “How about I spend more time in the sun?” She said, “Well, you could do that, but too much sun is not good and I can just give you a pill.”
This, my dears, is the trouble. I explained, “I don’t want any pills. I have seen what pills and blood tests and exams did to my aunt, to my mother. I am content to live my life as I am living it and when the time comes, die. Naturally. I’m not pilling and testing and thissing and thatting to be constantly told I’m falling short of an ideal no one can really achieve – an artificial ideal of health meant to keep all of you in business. I’ve little enough happiness in life, my delusional hope that I’ll drop dead quickly of a heart attack is something to which I intend to hold on until I become a ward of the state. In addition to which, I am almost certain to end up living on the street in an appliance box and I don’t want to have to worry about all the pills I can no longer get – so, I’m just not going to start them in the first place.”
She was disgusted – angry, even – with me. But the staff there is lovely. They told me how much they liked my glasses – about which I was quite happy as a trainer at the gym who I used to like made fun of them the other day. And they also told me I don’t look a day over 45. Which is good. Because that is my pretend age. You know, the one I use. And, coincidentally, it is five years younger than that at which the colonoscopy is recommended. Convenient that.
So, no colonoscopy. No statins. No prescription vitamins. Rather, I’ve accepted that due to this “severe vitamin D deficiency” one needs must take the morning sun.
And, I have. Now off to drive Mother around again. Cheers.