I made a vow to myself on my 40th birthday to make an even stronger effort to focus on a healthier lifestyle. I’m making progress, albeit slow. At least I know that the changes I have made will be with me for life. They aren’t simply a fad I’m going through. The one thing I haven’t paid nearly enough attention to is my annual doctor’s check-ups. I was so far overdue it wasn’t funny and it wasn’t all that smart, either. Now I’m concerned about my health because I haven’t stayed on top of it.
You may suspect that I avoid going to the doctor because I’m afraid of bad news. If so, you don’t know me very well. This is the girl who, upon completing her first Judy Blume book, insisted on a trip to the doctor to be checked for scoliosis. As it turned out, I did have a mild case and spent the next year or two or whatever being photographed half naked all in the name of science. That probably makes it sound worse than it was, but for an adolescent, it was hardly a high point. The truth is that I’m a proactive worrier. Maybe that’s called being a hypochondriac. Anyway, the point is… if something is wrong, I want to know what it is and what I do to fix it.
And then Bug came along. Before he was even born, he was dealing with specialists. We had additional ultrasounds, maternal-fetal specialist consultations, and quite a few trips to the ER. And after he was born, it was like "Parade of the –Ists." He had things you would never think about. He had things you’ve never heard of. I couldn’t even make this stuff up. Before he was one, he had seen (or was seeing) a dermatologist, opthamologist, physical therapist, psychologist (ok, maybe she was for me), allergist, and some sort of developmental expert. The kid had to have surgery on his tear ducts. And then I found out I was pregnant with LadyBug. At just a year later, I was considered "an older mom," resulting in extra tests and appointments. Plus, I had problems with that pregnancy, too, which added even more special attention. She had hearing loss. Sort of. And that meant repeated visits to the audiologist where I had to try to convince a squirmy infant to fall asleep with probes in her ears. You can imagine how well that went. And then she needed to see an orthopedist. Seriously. Later we added a urologist to the mix, as well as another developmental person. We’ve worked with an OT and a speech therapist, too. I just want to point out here that Bug is only six and, other than Bug’s food allergies, they’re pretty healthy kids.
I share all of this in part because it amuses me, but mainly to explain why I let my own doctor’s visits slide, even though I knew I shouldn’t have. I had a scare in the past, shortly after LadyBug was born and knew I should stay on top of it. I was simply tired of waiting rooms and insurance papers (yes, that IS my husband, even though we don’t have the same last name) and blood draws (UGH) and follow-up visits. The last medical abnormality we had just pushed me over the edge, I think. I stopped scheduling almost anything. My kids’ physicals are up-to-date, but did fall behind schedule (bah. physical, schmysical – certainly one of the 10 other doctors would have noticed if anything was wrong) and they haven’t even seen a dentist. Yeah, I know. I’m an awful mom and my kids’ teeth will fall out and they’ll hate me forever. But at least they’ll be alive, and hearing, and walking, and talking, and all of that. [Note: It’s on my To-Do list, right after my own EKG]
Anyway. I called my doctor and asked for an appointment. "When do you want to come?" the receptionist asked. I wanted to answer "NOW" but managed to come up with a reasonable time and date. And then I stopped sleeping through the night because all I could do was worry. I had finally stopped worrying (for one brief moment) about my kids and started to worry about me, which was actually scarier, because I KNEW they were healthy. I also have to blame this partly on the Grey’s Anatomy marathon I’ve been taking part in, which has me imagining all of the many ways I could be dying and not even know. That and the heart palpitations, which I might blame on Grey’s Anatomy stress as well.
I met my doctor for the first time (long story) and gave her a long list of complaints and concerns. I updated my medical history with some scary new stuff. And then I waited for the bad news. As you can probably imagine, the news wasn’t that bad at the appointment. She didn’t find a tumor the size of a basketball or anything. I left the appointment with the longest laundry lists of tests and labs and yadda yadda yadda. Who knew that your 40th birthday was the day you suddenly became old? I’ve got an order for a Mammogram, Colonoscopy (joy), EKG, and a whole host of things involving blood and other bodily byproduct. Actually, the list is a bit freaky.
You might imagine that I’d be even more stressed as I wait for more tests and test results. Uhm, if so, you probably skipped the second paragraph. The truth is that I feel somewhat better. I’m anxiously hoping for good news across the board, but right now, I’m feeling more peaceful just for taking the step to know. There is power in knowledge.
I hope that you have been rolling your eyes at my sheer stupidity for not staying on top of each and every doctor visit. But if not, please take a moment to make the call for yourself. Call your doctor. Call a local clinic. Just call and get yourself checked out. It is scary to think that something might be wrong. On the other hand, if you can stay on top of your health, you significantly increase their ability to fix anything that does go wrong.
In the meantime, please send some good vibes my way…