Saturday, May 5, 2012


It is Thursday, the day of my doctor’s appointment.  I get 15 minutes of the doctor’s time.  While I wait to be called into his inner sanctum, I shuffle the 7 items on my “to talk about” list, trying to figure out if I should spend my15 minutes on one major item or on 3 less-major items.  None are “unimportant” but I know that some will take longer to deal with than others. 
Quickly before I am called, I place a number before each item in the order I choose.  At the head of the list is something the nurse can do: put that little thingy on my finger to measure my oxygen level.  I figure if the oxygen percentage is no less than it was at the last visit, then obviously my lung problem can move down to the bottom of the list.

Nurse says “98%.”  Hooray, I think.  Now only 6 items left.
Doc comes in and sets himself at the computer.  He has a laptop, He sits in front of the table and pecks away as I talk.  I sit beside the table.  I can either watch his fingers or his eyes.  Since he’s one handsome dude, I watch his eyes.  Nice. 

He says to me, “I see you’ve had gall bladder surgery.”  I fight back the urge to say, “Yes, and you’ve seen me twice since then.”  (If he sees 4 patients an hour, 8 hours a day, 20 working days a month, that is 640 patients a month; I do not expect him to remember when he saw me last and what that visit was for.  He is neither a mind reader nor a savant).  Instead, his question is my opening to fire the first salvo. 
“Doc, I’m still having some pain problems in the area where the gall bladder used to be” and I quickly describe what the pain is like (I call it a spasm), how often I have it, and how long it lasts.  I glance at my watch: 5 minutes gone.  He palpates my belly and says it is soft.  I counter with “Not when the spasm is there.”  I hand him a copy of the surgery report, which he has never seen because the hospital does not automatically send the patient’s medical stuff to the doc.  “I brought this to you so you could see if there are any red flags in it.”  He pecks away on the computer while I watch his blue eyes and long eyelashes. “ I’ve ordered an Upper GI series.  When I get the results we’ll decide what to do.”

Good.  One down.  “Next?” he says.  (I check my watch and I’m closing in on 10 minutes).
I tell him, succinctly, that the systolic range of my blood pressure is staying higher than it should be, ranging from 145 to 160.  The lung doctor wants it lower than that, but the lung doctor doesn’t have control of the dispensing of the medicine.  Doc looks at the part of the computer where my meds are noted and says, “I’ll add in hydrocholorothiazide, see how that works.”  I remind him that in February he put me on 25 mg per day of that drug and I developed all kind of scary side effects.  “Remind me,” he says.  I told him major heart palpitations, immediate weight loss of 7 pounds in 5 days, dizziness, etc.”  He says we’ll go to 12.5 mg and see how that works.  (I fight back the urge to remind him that in an e-mail when I reported these bad side effects to him I asked him if I should cut the dosage in half and he said no but did order something else for me to take that wasn’t a diuretic.) 

“Next?” he says, while he pecks away on the computer.
He’s not too bad on the computer.  He is a relatively young doctor and while I don’t think he was ever in a typing class, he’s not too shabby as far as touch typers go.  He’s grown up with keyboards.  But the surgeon who removed my gall bladder has to be the winner of any typing contest he enters.  Man, is he fast!  He says it’s because he wants to keep up with his schedule so he has to type fast!  (The docs aren’t crazy about this 15 minute bit either!)

I see I’m down to 4 minutes.  Bluntly I say, “This one’s minor, Doc.  I’m going deaf!” 
I’m grinning.  I tell him that I just want to make sure that it isn’t because there is wax in my ears.  He peers in the left ear.  “No wax there.”  He peers in the right ear.  “No wax there.”  I knew it was not a wax problem.  No doctor has ever said to me, “My goodness, ma’am, you have a wax problem in your ears.”  I knew I was going deaf because first of all, I could tell that I had a good ear and a bad ear, and that's relative because neither are close to 100%.  The bad ear is always the one that is aimed at the passenger in the car, insuring that I have to say “What?” a minimum of 10 ten times while I drive a friend to a local Denny’s for lunch.  Half the time I cannot understand what the waitress asks me.  I can hear that she is talking, but danged if I can understand what she says.  Jerry has begun answering for me, which I really appreciate.  This business of saying “Huh?” to everything is downright embarrassing. 

It is especially bad when my littlest granddaughters and great-granddaughters ask me questions.  Their little voices are in a range that I just cannot hear.  I am working very hard to keep myself healthy and relevant to these young ones, since I doubt if I will be around long enough to see them grow up into beautiful young women.  Should this happen, I want them to remember me as the grandma who knit beautiful hats for us, or the grandma who always sent us packages of goodies; I do not want them to remember me as the deaf grandma.
The last words of the doctor as he shepherded me out the door at the end of my 15 minutes was, “I’ve ordered an appointment with our audiologist.  We can fix this!  And come back in two months.”

Bring on the audiologist!  Thank goodness I am not one of these people who know they need a hearing aid but vanity keeps them from admitting it.  Frankly, I can’t wait!  Furthermore, thank goodness we are developmentally past the old hearing aids that squealed and shrieked and drove the people sitting beside the wearer absolutely crazy.   Between you and me, I think the fact that people nowadays have Bluetooths and earbuds and other such paraphernalia hanging from and sticking in their ears has blunted the “differentness” of a hearing aid.  I hope I can afford a decent hearing aid instead of an old ear-horn; the dentist and the grocer are already trying their best to get all my discretionary cash. 
I consider Thursday’s 15 minute appointment a success.  As I walked out the door, I said “Thanks, Doc.  I’ll save the remaining problems until next time.”  I took one last peep at his blue eyes as we shook hands before we went off in different directions, him to his next patient and me to Starbucks for my after-appointment reward.

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