Over the last year, I’ve visited more doctors than usual.  I had several visits to my primary care doctor’s office, where I should go once a year but usually don’t.  I saw my eye doctor for the first time in several years, and I definitely left too much time between visits.  I also saw two specialists for the first time: an ear nose and throat doctor to help me with my vertigo and a dermatologist to see if any of the spots on my body (from general sun exposure as well as that horrible skin-blistering incident when I was eighteen) had mutated into something dangerous.  And I’ve also been seeing a chiropractor for the last year.

So here’s what I learned …

Doctors Don’t Always Trust Other Doctors And/Or The Medical System

My primary care guy wasn’t thrilled with the fact that I had such an enormous wait to see the ENT specialist (a four-month wait for my first appointment and a three-month wait for my second appointment).  He was pretty expressive with his displeasure, even while saying, “Don’t get me started on that.  I’m going to bite my tongue on that subject.”  Meanwhile, the ENT doctor looked like her head was going to explode when I told her the methods my chiropractor had used to try to help me with my dizzy spells.

Doctors Like to Ask Obvious Questions.

Example #1.

Dermatologist:  So … you see how you have these spots on the TOP side of your arms, but nothing underneath?  Why do you think that is?

Me:  Uhm … because of the sun?

Dermatologist:  Yes, exactly!

Example #2.

Primary Care Doctor:  So … you DO know the best method of birth control, right?

Me: (flashing back to 9th grade biology) Wait … do you mean abstinence?

Primary Care Doctor: Condoms!

Practicality Trumps Modesty, Eventually.

My primary care doctor warned me several times that I would have to have to take all of my clothes off in order for the dermatologist to make a full body check.  What he didn’t quite convey was just how surreal that experience was going to be.  I mean, yes, I might have expected that I would have to take all of my clothes off and then put on one of those godawful hospital gowns that’s open in the back.  And yes, I could have predicted that there would be a woman in the room as chaperone / witness / person who helped insure that nothing inappropriate happened.

But I guess I didn’t grasp that I would be examined one body part at a time by a man squinting through a lens, and that he would say ominous things like, “What is THIS?” while standing behind me so that I’d have to scramble to try to figure out what the hell he was looking at (mystery solved: it turns out that the skin on my lower back is still discolored from a year-old heating pad burn).  I also didn’t expect that the exam would include the phrase, “Can you lift up your breasts, please?”  Now, if this conversation had taken place when I was a teenager, I would have been soooooo embarassed, and I likely would have started blushing and hyperventilating.  But now?  Hell, now I’m in my 40’s, and I need to make sure that I’m okay, and how ELSE is he going to check all of my spots?

Apparently, I Am Now Of A CERTAIN AGE.

I am now of the age that the spots that have been on my body since childhood sometimes stretch, or itch, or fall off of my body, or look stranger than before.

I am now of the age that the nearsightedness that required me to start wearing glasses to see the blackboard back when I was in second grade has now been joined by farsightedness that makes it hard for me to read a book or a keyboard.  Which explains why I am now wearing progressive lenses, and why I’m learning how to tilt my head at just the right angle to read things that happen to be at that pesky middle distance.  Okay … imagine that you had the ability to destroy your enemies with laser beams that shoot out of your eyes.  Now imagine that you see one of those enemies across the room, and you lower your chin just a little so that you can glare menacingly at him before you fry him to a crisp.  Well, it’s kind of like that.  Just without the laser beams.

Ominous Jim Kirk

I am now of the age that I have to resign myself to the fact that my bodily defects — my bad vision, my imperfect skin, my bad back, etc. — can be made better, but they’ll never be 100% fixed.  And I’ll just have to live with that.