I was aghast last week, when I visited an elderly couple in the neighborhood, to see their calendar. Each and every day of the month was taken up with at least one doctor’s appointment. Doctors had become their social circle. Now, I’ve always been relatively healthy and so have spent very little time with doctors — unless on Gill’s behalf. But I may be gaining on her and well on my way to becoming an elderly person with more doctors than friends. Chalk it up to another indignity of old age!
It has generally been my policy to put off doctor’s visits as long as possible. Occasionally, they come looking for me — via mail with chirpy reminders that “it’s been a while since your last dental/eye/breast exam and it would be just super if you popped in to have those things looked at”. Actually, the breast people have it down to a well-regulated system. They sign you up to a government program and basically will not let you escape unsqueezed or unmolested.
I have two dentists. Yes, two! One is for general dental needs and one is a surgeon who did gum work on me and insists on keeping an eye on them. Apparently, if I don’t floss enough, he’ll have to ‘lift the gums’ again. Well, I’ve got things that need lifting a whole lot more than my gums. However, to humour him, I allow his hygienist to ‘clean’ my teeth twice a year. ‘Rigorous’ is my term for her services. I am convinced she moonlights as a concrete floor sander or makes granite sculptures with a small pick axe. I detect in her a difficulty transitioning from one job to the other. Certainly my teeth do.
As I age, various oddities spring up on my skin…lumps, bumps, rashes, tags, bunions, warts, callouses. Off it is to the skin specialist. He removes something with the magic zapper, warns me to invest in sunscreen stock, wear a floppy hat, and he’ll book me in for three months down the road.
The optometrist finally caught up with me this year. It’s been about three years since I had a checkup. Gill keeps insisting I’m blind as a bat, although she’s the one wearing glasses all the time. Okay, so my depth perception sucks (nothing new there as anyone who has seen me drive at night or park can attest to), and I have trouble reading street signs at a distance. But as I point out to Gill, I only go to places I know. Besides, if I’m really worried about finding something, I can get GPS. Not going to, but could …
This year’s visit discovered the small beginnings of a cataract. Otherwise, the eyes are great. Great being a relative term, of course. Great means they won’t take my license away…yet. But the doc does want to keep an eye on my eye. More appointments throughout the year.
Gill manages to escape most of these regular doctor’s appointments by being in another country. Only when she is desperate–her teeth are falling out, she can’t see, her skin has erupted in some boil or other form of pestilence, will she seek medical help. And then only if I can fit her appointment into her busy summer visit schedule. To be fair, with her years of arthritis, Crohn’s, allergies, and other conditions, she has probably had her fill of the medical profession.
I, apparently, am just reaching my stride as a senior patient. I have a full year of appointments lined up. I made the mistake of complaining about this to L’il Sis. “Oh, cry me a river,” she retorted. “And never say that to Gill! Do you know how many times we’ve been to doctors in the last three months? There was the arthritis specialist, the eye guy, my GP several times when I had that eye infections, appointments to change arthritis meds AGAIN. And Gill always complains about her Crohn’s, the toenail that she thinks is about fall off or go gangrenous, and her arthritis. You don’t know how lucky you are, Mom. You’re healthier than all of us combined!”
“You may be right…but that’s not saying much. You all are, if I may say so in a loving, well-meaning way, a sickly, sorry lot!”