I feel like I live somewhere in the middle of our socio economical society, in that sweet spot where we can afford to take a family vacations but still only buy shoes if they are on sale. Rarely do I feel either extreme end of the spectrum – completely entitled or abjectly downtrodden. I feel lucky this way, I really do and this last week I got to experience both sides in a most unexpected way:
I am a firm believer that going to the doctors is a anxiety filled, administrative heavy task that should only be undertaken if a bone is protruding or you can’t alone stop your rapid blood loss. Because of this it’s been over 3 years since my last physical and more years than that since any kind of specialist check up. But because I notice that there are parts of my body that are starting to show signs of wear and tear and because my ultimate goal is to live forever I recently decided to find a primary care physician and a dermatologist (I will wait while you all gasp in surprise).
So, I did things the 21st century way I found a local family Doctor who took my insurance and I could book on-line (you know without the added hassle of having to actually talk to a fellow human being) as well as a dermatology practice that met the same stringent criteria.
The primary care physical was scheduled for Monday, the doctors name was something Chinese that I had all but forgotten by the time I drove myself (and Lucy) to her office, figuring that since nearly all the doctors anymore where Chinese I’d be in good hands.
I realized my mistake as soon as I got off the elevator and noticed that the only writing on her office suite was in Chinese characters, I walked in and the entire population of the waiting room did a collective double take. Lucy and I were the only westerners in sight, the magazines and newspapers on the coffee table were all Chinese publications. Not only was the receptionist surprised to see me but equally surprised that I had insurance. I wondered briefly if I had just shown up with a live chicken if that would also have gained me admission (the office had that feel like a chicken would totally have worked).
The appointment itself was also somewhat of a disaster, as a patient who only has a tenuous grasp (at most) on details of my pasts medical history I came prepared with copies of old surgical reports and follow up visit summaries, none if which were asked for, Dr. Li really skimmed right over medical history actually excluding it all together as part of my visit. I was handed paperwork to go get a full blood work up after being scolded harshly in very broken English by the nurse for not fasting that morning (if only they would have put that reminder online when I made the appointment!), given some herbal anti-inflammatory cream for my ailing joints and ushered out the door.
On Wednesday after a quick stop at Quest diagnostics while Lucy looked on in horror as they withdrew 6 vials of blood from my arm and then literally yelled at me to “just do it already Mom!” When I had difficulty peeing into the collection cup, we headed to a dermatologist office located smack dab in the middle of the mainline. I knew it was going to be nice when I pulled in to their private parking lot behind their stand alone Art Deco building (no 6th floor suite in a dingy medical complex for these people!) Lucy and I were offered an array of cool beverages while we perused the posters for cool sculpting treatments and a special they were running on Botox injections. After completing several medical history forms on the office iPad we settled into some very uncomfortable mid century modern chairs and waited.
When my turn finally arrived I was given a very thorough exam, a strict talking to about my sporadic doctors visits I was diagnosed with a rare skin condition, biopsied, bandaged up, photographed and scheduled for a follow up visit while I received a brochure on laser treatments to make me young again.
I was at the dermatologist 10 times longer than the PCP and seriously wondered what I could do to make them my primary care office.
It wasn’t just the free beverages and promise of eternal youth, the mainline office had actual medical equipment and resources visibly lacking in the first office I visited.
I feel like all I can do now is hope that my blood work comes back normal so I can continue to ignore my health once again while I figure out how to bundle these experiences into a real world lesson for Lucy on the unfairness of life in general.
Next stop, teeth cleaning!