An Apple a Day Doesn't Work

I'm tired of doctors. I'm fed up with driving there, sitting there and filling out forms that take longer to do, than the duration of any of my illnesses. Once upon a time a visit to the doctor meant answering only a handful of questions. "How long have you felt this way? Are you allergic to Latex? Are you allergic to Penicillin? Who's paying for this visit?"

The other day the receptionist handed me five sheets to fill out, plus two I only had to sign. One gave me the option of allowing others to know my medical background. On the other I listed people to contact in case of my death -- not a way for a doctor to instill confidence in his patients, and, besides, I was only there because of a toe fungus.

Because there wasn't room to list all of my surgeries, medications and allergies I asked the receptionist for a blank piece of paper, opened my wallet, withdrew a laundry list that included all of the required information, and copied onto the clean sheet.

Forty-five minutes later the doctor, who obviously believed his time was far more valuable than mine, was ready to see me. But I wasn't ready for him. I still faced two sheets of questions.

My husband, Mighty Marc, is able to fill out medical forms in under five minutes. At the dermatologist's office the nurse asked him if he had any allergies.

"No."

Then she asked what medications he was on.

"None."

She looked up from her desk. "You're in your seventies and you're not on any medications? Do you have any idea how unusual that is? You're so fortunate."

"It's not really luck," he said. "When we got married my wife and I agreed that she'd do medications, if I'd do yard work. We've both upheld our ends of the bargain."

I'm not a hypochondriac. Every sickness, ache, pain and disease I have is real -- at least to me. I'm concerned that when I write on my income tax return that I've traveled 2,800 miles to doctors this year, a red flag will be raised and I'll be audited.

My last problem started with pressure and pain in my lower left abdomen. I tried ignoring it but when I no longer could, I visited my doctor.

"We've got to stop meeting like this," I instructed him.

"Why?"

"Because I'm fed up with doctors."

"Truthfully? I'm tired of patients," he quipped.

He pressed and palpated and decided I probably had diverticuliosis, an irritated colon, a common condition in older people, but not to be ignored. He sent me for a CT Scan, which wasn't conclusive, so he put me on an antibiotic for five days. When that didn't help he suggested I see my gynecologist.

Uh oh!

Once home I did some research. By the time I arrived at my gynecologist's office I was in a state of panic. I even took a Valium, from a bottle I'd had since 1960. I'm not sure the pill did anything for me, but it didn't kill me, either, which confirmed why I've never been a stickler for expiration dates.

The gynecologist walked in and found me sitting on the edge of the examining table, hyperventilating. "Sit down," I said to her. "I have some bad news."

Her brows knotted. "What kind of bad news?"

"I don't want to upset you, but I have ovarian cancer."

"WHAT? And, how do you know that?"

"I read it on the internet."

"And...everything on the internet is true, and accurate, right? Lie down and assume the position," she ordered.

I wasn't thrilled with her holier-than-thou attitude... and without a scintilla of compassion.

Within seconds of her physical assault she began laughing out loud.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"Honey, your ovaries have dried, died and gone to Ovary Heaven."

"Honest? And that's a good thing?"

"Unless you want more children. I suggest you see your gastroenterologist. Have him confirm what I believe. I feel certain it's diverticulosis."

I hugged her and cried tears of relief.

I left her office with prescriptions for an ultrasound, an MRI, a bone density test and a mammogram. It was then it occurred to me I'm not going to die from a common disease. I'm going to die from radiation poisoning.

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