I’ve been going through a lot of tests lately. I don’t mean tests, as in trials and tribulations. I mean, sure, sure, I’ve had those too, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean tests. As in, “This will only hurt a little.” As in, “Mrs. Not Your Average Al, you may just live to see next week after all…” Suffice it to say, middle age sucks.
It all started a few months ago, when our generous president made sure we got health insurance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making a political statement there. I have my own thoughts about Obamacare, but they are just that…MY thoughts. So, I’ll keep those to myself.
Whether we like it or not, Mr. Everything and I now are the proud owners of a shiny new health insurance plan, and for the first time in a gazillion years, we can actually go to a doctor when it’s not an emergency. So, we eagerly signed up for appointments. After all, he and I both needed bloodwork so we could get refills on some medications. Our previous providers had officially cut us off, so we had to do something or we would surely die.
The Mr. went first, brave man that he is. His outcome was not horrible. It consisted of bloodwork and an ultrasound to check out a growth on his thyroid. We thought it would be no big deal. Little did we know, that would turn into a trip to the ENT, where the kind doctor looked up Mr. E’s nose (I’m still pondering what his nose had to do with his thyroid…) and felt his throat before asking for a mere $202 out of pocket. Sure. No problem.
In the style of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” Mr. E’s visits progressed. If you go to the doctor, he’s surely going to feel your throat…. and if he feels your throat, he will think there’s something wrong…and if he thinks something is wrong, he will definitely send you for an ultrasound…and when you go for the ultrasound, it won’t come back okay….and when it doesn’t come back okay, you will be told to go to the ENT… and if you go to the ENT, the doctor will feel your throat….and then after he feels your throat, he will send you for a biopsy…if you have a biopsy, it will not feel good…and after it doesn’t feel good, the one thing that will feel worse will be the amount of money you owe out pocket….and when you pay the money out of pocket, you will be told everything is fine….and when you are told everything is fine, you will surely wonder why you went to the doctor in the first place!
Next was my turn, so off to doctor I went, where I eagerly awaited my opportunity to be weighed in public. That is, after all, one of my favorite things to do. Luckily, they did not have to bust out the lift to weigh me.
Anywho, I went in expecting to be sent for bloodwork. I did not expect to have the full gamut of tests run, from head to toe. I left the doctor’s office with a huge stack of orders.
The bloodwork was the least of my worries. There, they drew six vials of blood. I was a shade paler when I left the lab.
Next came the thyroid ultrasound. Mine was fine, so I did not have to give the mouse a cookie, thank goodness.
After that, came the leg vein ultrasound. I thought if one more person said, “This won’t hurt a bit,” I was going to slap someone. In fact, when you have varicose veins, an ultrasound on your legs hurts like a beast. Besides hurting, it’s extremely awkward to have to, “Turn this way, put your leg out flat, move your other leg out of the way, don’t forget to breathe, now act natural and don’t forget to smile, don’t mind my head right here, leaning over you in a very awkward place, now, I’m just going to dig this little ultrasound thingie into the bend of your knee while I squeeze your ankle. Relax. This will only take a minute.”
Back in my pregnancy days, when asked if something was going to hurt, my obstetrician would say, “This isn’t going to hurt me a bit.” At least he was honest. Some ultrasound technicians I know could stand to learn from his wisdom.
Along with my various ultrasounds came the big M, as in Mammogram (with a capital M). I’m just going to tell you, you have not lived until you’ve had someone reach over, lift your breast and put it on a shelf. Then, the experience is complete when they clamp a cold plastic plate down on it. Good times, people. Good times.
I left the radiology location so happy all my tests were finished. I figured I was probably glowing from the amount of radiation I had just been exposed to between the X-Ray and the ultrasounds. I was so glad that was over and behind me for another five years. Woo-hoo!
Two mistakes there… First, I found out at my age (“Women your age” is the most dreaded phrase…dreaded for the doctor, because my response is to punch him or her in the nose.)….at my age, I have to have a mammogram yearly. I don’t want to discuss it. The second mistake was in thinking it was over. Oh, no, my friends. I had not even made it out of the parking lot of the radiology office before I got a call saying I had to have another mammogram done on the right side. Oh, joy.
Later the same week, I went back to have the second mammogram done. I thought the first one hurt. I was wrong. On the second go-around, the technician once again lifted my boob (something I’ll never get used to) and sat it on the shelf. She pancaked me pretty good with the squisher. Then, just to ensure it was flat enough, she began manually cranking the squisher down tighter. Words went through my mind, but they were not nice, so I just bit my tongue. I thought I was going to black out there for a second. I envisioned myself, unconscious, hanging by my boob from the mammogram machine. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I actually started laughing as I pictured that. The technician looked at me like I was crazy, but it was better than crying, right??
I survived the mammogram and was so glad it was over. Then, they said I needed a sonogram. Oh boy. Allow me to disrobe in front of one more person. Yay. At least this sonogram did not hurt, and she did not have to squeeze my ankle to look at my boob.
I left the office, relieved it was over. I felt good that I had done something for myself. (Though I decided I should rethink ways of caring for myself….a massage, a pedicure, a cup of tea….these all seemed like better ways). A few days later, I got a call from the radiologist’s office. The woman said they had messed up. They were supposed to call me back for repeat images on both sides, so they still needed to re-do the left side. And so it began again….
The left side was not nearly as painful as the right. The technician who did it was much kinder and gentler. I pledged my undying love to her. That was kind of awkward, since she had my breast in her hand at that moment. I want to request her in the future, but I’m pretty sure I’m on her “do not treat” list.
So, the results of the mammograms were mixed. The left was fine. When the woman called to tell me my boob was fine, I said, “Oh, girl, don’t I know it? It is fiiiiine.” She did not find that funny. I really think I’m now at the top of her list. The right side was inconclusive, whatever that means. I was told they found nothing…no masses, no bumps, no hidden microphones or microchips, but they could not conclude anything. Well, thanks for that. That was money well spent. Now, I have to go back in 6 months to have another one done. Maybe by then, I will have paid off my out of pocket costs for my crazy mammogram-palooza.
So, the only thing that was left to do was one final doctor’s appointment. It was a thrill. Let’s just say it involved me, a doctor, a nurse and a razor blade. Come back next time, and I’ll tell you all about it. -Al