I’ve spent a large part of my adult life interacting with physicians, but on a professional basis, not sitting in a gown on the side of a table, eyeing the box of plastic gloves over there on the counter.
I’ve worked with then, negotiated with them, and listened to them endlessly, and osmosis being what it is (I really have no firm idea), some things have been assimilated.
I’m a believer in signs and not symptoms, for one thing (a semantic common misunderstanding, a symptom is something you think you have; a sign is something a doctor sees you have. Subjective and objective, in other words).
I have very little tendency toward hypochondria, is what I’m saying, and not a whole lot of patience with people who do. If I were to give general advice to anyone, and that would never be a good idea, it would be to avoid seeing a doctor if at all possible. I’m a firm believer in preventive care, and I guess a yearly physical exam with some basic lab work is practical, at least after a certain age, but otherwise the mess that is our healthcare system would be a lot less messier if most of us stopped using it so much. Blood and bones sticking out of broken skin are reasons to go to the ER; the other reasons make up a short list, and then these endless trips that I see older people with good insurance and/or Medicare make? Meh. Go often enough and they’ll find something, you betcha, and it’ll just mess with you and won’t make any difference, probably, anyway.
Regardless of how valid you think my opinion is, this is my practice. I go in once a year for a cursory physical exam, given that I can never think of any physical problems that I can’t explain myself, chat with my doctor (old acquaintances, now, for about 15 years), give a bit of blood for minor tests that are always normal, and argue only a little about the necessity of a prostate exam (I lose). And that’s my plan until blood or bones, or something similar.
But I have my quirks, and they have to do with numbers, and one number in particular. One year I had a fasting blood sugar of 119. It should be under 100, and even though my doctor made no mention of it that year, I worried about it for the next 12 months. Was all that ice cream leading me down a path toward insulin resistance? Was I prediabetic? Was I about to lose that prefix?
So I brought it up on my last physical, and my doctor rolled her eyes about the same time she was rolling that glove up over her wrist. She told me patiently that it was probably just a random lab fluctuation, that it would have to be 10 points higher even to begin an investigation, and not to worry.
But I worry. You know. “I just think I could eat better,” I said at the end of our visit.
She patted me on the shoulder. “We could all eat better.”
And probably we could. I think about that a lot. I’m not a natural vegetable eater, for one thing. I’m not opposed; it’s just not my go-to food. When I’m hungry, a picture of a salad doesn’t pop up first thing. Or second.
But I try, or I try to try. The other night, out to dinner, Julie and I each had a delicious spinach salad. “I could eat this every day,” I said, only a little optimistic, and being the way I am, I decided to try to recreate it at home.
Which I did. It was good. And, even though I won’t, I could eat it every day. It would probably be a good idea, too. But then anything that gets in the way of my tendency to scavenge like a raccoon, finding the quickest and easiest and sweetest or friedest (it could be a word) food, would be a good step in a right direction, and here’s to that, then. Right directions. Good steps. Lent.
My blood sugar was 100 last November. FYI.