I Hope There’s Not a Doctor in the House

Every family has at least one hypochondriac – the person you can NEVER ask, “How are you doing?” and expect to get a short and sweet answer like, “Fine, and you?”  In my family, that person was Nana, my grandmother.  I learned at a very early age to skip the small talk with Nana unless I had an hour or so to kill.

On the rare occasion I did inquire about her health, I either got a full run down on her medical history, or if she was having a particularly uneventful week with her doctor, I would hear about the ailments of her family/friends/neighbors/etc..  During one conversation, she must have been at a loss for any real medical drama because she resorted to telling me about her bird’s tumor.  If there was ever a man who deserved to be sainted, it was Grandpa because for him, there was no escape from her tales of woe – his only source of companionship was Nana and her cancerous bird.

Apart from Nana, the rest of my family is made up of people who avoid doctors like they’re doling out diseases rather than cures.  As long as all our limbs remain intact and our vital organs keep doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we stay the hell away from anyone donning a white lab coat.

Pops (my other grandfather) was an expert at doctor dodging.  Even when he had very valid reasons to visit the doctor, he opted to just wrap an ace bandage around whatever body part was bothering him, and keep going.  He once “treated” a hernia by tightly wrapping an ace bandage around his stomach – without the bandage, he looked like a turkey whose timer had popped.  He walked around for years that way.  I’m sure the pain must have been horrible, but obviously he thought going to the doctor was worse.  By the time he reached his eighties, he had practically mummified himself.

Ace bandages – the miracle cure.

Genetically, I think I tend to take more after Pops than Nana.  I cancel just as many doctor appointments as I make.  A few days before my appointment, I usually try to find an excuse to wiggle out of it…. the excuse doesn’t even have to be a good one.  I once cancelled an appointment for a physical because I gained five pounds and didn’t want to face the scale during the routine weigh-in.

A few months ago, I went to the doctor’s office to get a prescription filled and he was amazed that I hadn’t been to see him in the last year.  Then he went on to lecture me that I hadn’t had an annual physical in almost two years.  I felt like he was accusing me of criminal negligence of my own body.  Do most people see their doctor several times a year?  Or is my doctor’s view skewed because he’s used to having a waiting room full of Nanas?  I assured him I felt fine and that I had no reason to see him; but if he would waive the $20 co-pay I’d drop by to say hi sometimes, if it would make him feel better.

If I didn’t need an annual prescription for my crappy thyroid, I would treat my doctor appointments the way I do school reunions – my doctor and I would visit each other every ten years to play catch-up, take pictures, and silently berate each other over how much older and fatter we got.

I think some people run to the doctor too quickly – Mother Nature can take care of a lot of ailments all on her own.  Have you ever noticed that when you make a doctor’s appointment to have something checked out, you feel better either the day of the appointment or shortly thereafter?  That happens to me more times than not, which is why I play the wait-and-see game with most illnesses.  I’m not talking about the life threatening stuff; merely the symptoms that can be treated by taking a shot of Nyquil:  sniffling, sneezing, coughing, stuffy head, fever, etc.  After a shot of that stuff, I don’t care if my nose falls off, much less if it’s running.

I’ll admit that fear, not of the doctor but of his diagnosis, is what prevents me from paying him a visit sometimes.  In the last two weeks, I’ve developed a twitch in my legs and feet.  At first, I tried to ignore it; since there was only annoyance and not pain to contend with, I was successful for the first week.

But by week two, my head started to mess with me a bit.  With every twitch, images of Michael J. Fox would appear in my head, and I was convinced that I had Parkinson’s disease.  I remembered watching an interview on TV where Michael talked about how the disease first presented itself to him (when he was my age!!).  I saw that interview over ten years ago, but my brain was kind enough to keep it stored away for me, should the need to torture myself ever arise.  Locked up in the same mental file was the movie Love and Other Drugs with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.  In the movie, Anne Hathaway’s character struggles with early onset Parkinson’s disease and the emotional havoc it wreaks on her life.

My brain can be a real asshole sometimes….

After telling my brain to shut the hell up, I decided that I might have better luck on WebMD.  I typed in leg/foot twitching and out popped a list of possible causes – all of which made what my brain had come up with look like a vacation in Hawaii.

  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
  • Rheumatic Fever
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

WTF?!  Thanks for that, WebMD.  I won’t be back to that website anytime soon…. at least not while sober.  Then I did what any sane person would do – NO not call the doctor – I went to YouTube to see if anyone else was experiencing the same symptoms as me.  Not only were there others, they were also more than happy to video tape their twitching for all to see.  God I love the internet….

I also love the fact that the guy who posted this video asked his viewers what they thought the cause might be.  I was really tempted to say that it might be Parkinson’s disease so that he could join me in my paranoid ruminations, but I refrained from commenting.  I did however note that one of the comments suggested that it might be gallstones (something about that digit being tied to the gallbladder).  I’m normally not one to buy into all that reflexology nonsense, but the fact that I’ve got gallstones made me think that it was plausible.  And since that cause isn’t incurable or fatal, I decided it was the best diagnosis.  See that?  Diagnosis done, and I saved myself the $20 copay and a trip to the doctor.

Put the phone down Mom and Dad, there’s no need to call and point out the fact that I’m acting like an irrational idiot.  I will (eventually) stop trying to self-diagnose the problem and get it checked out by a doctor – assuming time doesn’t heal all wounds (or twitches) first.

22 thoughts on “I Hope There’s Not a Doctor in the House

  1. Thank God I’m not alone. I had these spots on my tongue last year and was certain I had somehow contracted HIV or some other autoimmune disease. The hypochondriac in me didn’t have time to consider the low likelihood of this, because she was too busy scouring the internet for photographic examples and possible diagnoses. A dentist/oral surgeon charged a criminal sum to take a 5-second look and pronounce it to be nothing at all (and they wonder why we don’t see them as frequently as they would like…).

    • LOL, no you’re definitely not alone! I think the internet is a bit of a curse when it comes to feeding our paranoia. There is no way to effectively diagnose yourself by surfing the web – all it does is provide us with all the horror stories and worse-case-scenarios out there. And boy is there some gross stuff out there in cyberspace! The one positive thing I get out of it is that I can say, “At least I’m not as bad off as THAT guy!” 🙂

  2. Ahh, yes. I, too, do not run to the doctor’s office each time I have a small issue arise. I once went in to see the doctor in an emergency fashion, and later received a bill in excess of $3,000, just so the doctor could tell me personally: “I don’t know what’s wrong with you; I’ve never seen anything like this before.” – I later realized what my issue was and took care of it on my own. Since then, I have come to feel much better. Thanks anyway, Dr. Valentine.

    • 3,000 dollars?! That’s nuts! I think doctors should come with the same guarantee that lawsuit lawyers do (the ones who promise we don’t get paid unless you get paid) – if the doctor can’t diagnose you, the tests are free 🙂

    • No, you’re definitely not alone – the more feedback I get, the more I realize that there are a lot of us who use the web as a means of self-diagnosis. Guess we all saved a TON of money on medical school, huh? 🙂

    • Thanks so much for reblogging this! I haven’t had anyone do this with one of my blog entries since March (when I was freshly pressed for “My Two Left Thumbs”). It means a lot to me that someone would think enough of my writing to share it with their own readers. You made my day!

  3. hahaha I saw that interview with Michael J Fox too! And every time I get a twitch I think the same thing… must be the Nana in us…?

    • Hey Sis! I think inheriting a few Nana genes was unavoidable. It’s up to us to find the happy medium between Nana and Pops – visit the doctor only when necessary, and don’t use ace bandages as a substitute for surgery 🙂

  4. I am the exact opposite of you – If I don’t get my yearly checkup reminder postcard in the mail, I pretty much call them (on the exact date, a year later, of course) asking why they dropped the ball, clucking disapprovingly into the phone at each lame excuse. 😉

  5. My brother had Lou Gehrigs disease but it cleared up. My mother, on the other hand, would never go to the doctor so when she finally had to and got the cancer diagnosis, she was dead in 4 months. Aren’t you glad I’m here today? I’m sure you’re fine. I need to make a doctor’s appointment but I’m making it for the end of July so I hopefully have time to lose some weight before I step on the damn scale!

    • Hey Maggie!

      Of course I’m glad you’re here – you’re one of my favorite bloggers 🙂 Even when you’re the black cloud of doom and gloom 😉

      Are you kidding about the Lou Gehrig’s disease thing with your brother? I only ask because I thought that was an incurable/fatal disease. I’m sorry to hear about your mother though – similar thing happened to my grandmother (not the one I spoke about in this blog). She never went to the doctor either, and she was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer and dead within a few months. And while that should be enough impetus to make me see my doctor more regularly, obviously it’s not. I’ve got no real excuse… other than the aforementioned scale avoidance/diagnosis phobia.

      But I joined up with Weight Watchers today, and once I drop a few pounds, making an appointment for my LONG overdue physical will be top of my to-do list! I’m hoping the twitching thing resolves itself between now and then…

  6. Great post. I tend to lean toward the idea that most creative types are hypochondriacs and/or paranoid; the same insanity(s) which jump starts the creative juices won’t allow us to have any minor physical ailment without it turning into some life-threatening, House, M.D.,requiring disease. Some of us panic and throw away good money better spent on other things; others just Ace bandage it. 🙂

    • I think there’s some validity to your theory. It makes sense that those of us who use our imaginations to create stories/art/music/etc. would also use it to conjure up all sorts of medical drama when symptoms present themselves.

      I find I have a mental tug-of-war between Nana and Pops – part of me thinks the worst, while the other is too busy trying to keep the symptoms under wraps…. see what I did there? A little ace bandage humor for you 🙂

  7. Your blog is a classic! You certainly have a way with words and I’m glad you corked those ears before your whole brain leaked out. Your writing makes me want to write more (and better!) Thanks for the laughs 🙂

  8. hahaha. 1) rheumatic fever- i had it, it is a reason to become paranoid let me tell you, though I can’t say I go to the doctor if not forced, despite my tendency towards Victorian Illnesses. 2) your posts are just hilarious, I am so glad I stumbled upon this!

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