Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Physician Heal… Anybody

The word Care means worry, concern, attention, charge, protection, nurture, except when attached to the word health.

My arm is sore, kind of aching, for no reason. The ache radiates up into my jaw line at times. My hand goes numb and there is this pressure like something is sitting on my chest near my shoulder. It’s done this for about a week. No problem, just inconvenient. I should get a stress test? The internet says yes! See someone immediately!

It comes and goes though, so I’m not too worried. And neither is my doctor. I called yesterday and left the symptoms with the nurse. She said she would pass on the message. I haven’t heard anything, so no worries.

Besides, I’m young, in my 40’s, active, in good health, no family history of heart attack. I really didn’t call about the heart thing anyway, I just figured that I’d tack it on because I have this lump in my breast.

I just noticed it the last couple of days, while I was massaging the pain in my arm. It’s pretty big, truthfully the lump makes one breast visibly bigger than the other, but on the up side, anything that accentuates the size of my breasts can’t be all bad.

The nurse isn’t concerned, she says she’ll add that onto the list. If she’s not worried, I’m not. Oh, and while I’m on the phone, the nurse insists, “Would you like to book your annual physical?”

Oops, the computer’s calendar must have triggered the fact that I’m not a regular patient. I believe in going to the doctor when I’m sick, but I really should accept the idea that like all corporate connections, it’s best to keep in tight with the professional by paying his retainer.

I'm sure that regular patients get in quicker, but they risk their computer trigger coming up “hypochondriac”. I wish I could tiptoe on some happy middle ground, but I only go to the doctor as last resort. The last three or four times, I’ve made the diagnosis and advised the doctor on treatment and that seems to work well for both of us.

I like “new-age physicians” who acknowledge that a doctor’s twenty minutes outside the body can’t trump forty some years of living inside it.

My problem is that health care isn’t available ala carte off some menu. But I’m a quick thinker and I know my symptoms could benefit from an ultrasound and a stress test—both of which are part of an annual physical so if my history triggers the, “opportunity for additional income” flag, they may as well sign me up. Besides my insurance pays ZERO now, unless it's an annual physical... but let's not get into insurance.

My family seems to have a history of health care issues… first and foremost #1 finding a doctor to care about health.

My sister finally got in for a similar breast lump and was treated and then told to check back every six months for a mammogram. Six months later her doctor moved somewhere like Ethiopia and the lab needs a prescription and the physicians group won’t issue it, “We don’t need to, they should do it without.” But her insurance won’t authorize, so there she is… stuck. Once again with no worries and nothing to be concerned about.

Another sister who woke with a kinked neck, found her doctor has also moved out of town (perhaps Ethiopia) and she is driving about during lunch trying to find someone who will prescribe an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller. She knows that will work as she did her internet homework last night and found relief with a pain pill leftover from the last labor and delivery. So far, her health care alternatives are urgent care with a three hour wait or a physician who will accept new patients, but only for “sports related injuries”.

She called me to find out how to join a soccer league for the day.

I take my physicians soonest available appointment which is the end of next week, no problem. I must be fasting twelve hours but they want me there late afternoon. Again, no problem, I’ll starve all my waking hours.

But, I interrupt with the caveat that, "If I wait two more weeks and this thing continues to grow at its current rate, I will have to come in braless." I get the same reassurance by the nurse that it's “No problem.”

What I really need is an annual reassurance that I’m fine, but that involves a voice, (not even physical contact) just a voice. But when the voice finally calls back late the next day, it says that the doctor got my message and she’ll review my issues when she sees me at my next scheduled visit.

My health care crisis really isn’t the hefty sum I pay for no covered insurance. It’s with the word care.

Maybe I should move to Ethiopia.

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