Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Why do most people go to the doctor?

Right. To read People magazine in the waiting room.

Which makes my visit this morning a grave disappointment. The only magazines to be found there were of the Car & Driver variety, so instead of People I just got cancer and heart disease.

WHICH IS A VAST OVERSIMPLIFICATION of what transpired today, but apparently there's a chance there's something wrong with me under both categories. But I'm not the type to get concerned about stuff like this until I know something for sure.

I went to the doctor this morning because there’s this mole on my thigh that in the last few months has doubled in size and become huge and bumpy and scaly in a Creature from the Black Lagoon kind of way AND I’ve also been having this weird sensation in my heart that feels like it’s working overtime to pump mounds of heavy sludge. I’ve had this sensation for as long as I can remember, but in a five-seconds-every-month kind of way. Since about December, though, it’s become a 10-times-a-day kind of thing. So I thought I’d have it checked out. And while I was in for a visit, I also thought I’d try to get a flu shot now that there’s this surprise surplus and we regular folks are finally allowed to become immunized.

(Do note the brilliant way I was able to squeeze THREE doctor visits in under ONE co-payment. I should get some kind of Nobel Prize for Skinflintery Economics for that.)

Anyway, the doctor took one look at my scabby mole, recoiled in horror at the way it tried to reach up and grab his pen, and gave me an immediate referral to a specialist. Which is going to give me TWO co-payments.

Then when I told him about the heart thing, he ordered an immediate EKG. (I’d never had an EKG, which is so easy and painless it’s practically over before it begins. Except the nurse couldn’t quite grasp the idea that every time she turned her head, her arm inadvertently yanked on the cords and some of the little sensors would get pulled off.) The EKG revealed an abnormal dip (where there should have been a mighty spike) in that cool wiggly line pattern that shows your heart is actually working, so my doctor ordered another referral—this time to get a stress test. (For those of you keeping score at home, that puts me back to three co-payments for three procedures. So much for my friggin’ Nobel Prize.)

I’d always thought a stress test involved having your heart monitored as you ran on a treadmill. Not so. Little-known fact: The actual stress test involves SCHEDULING APPOINTMENTS WITH SPECIALISTS AND COORDINATING REFERRALS WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN’S NETWORK AND YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. You can do it without even leaving your chair—as long as you have a push-button phone and the awareness that you, as a thwarted Nobel Prize winner, are infinitely more intelligent than the navel-gazer who designed the referral rules and their accompanying labyrinthine phone menus (which have changed for your convenience, so listen carefully).

You want some more stress? The scabby-mole specialist is booked until MARCH 15. That’s long enough for the mole to grow big enough to swallow me whole in its crusty little mouth.

And just when you thought there couldn't be any more stress: The treadmill portion of my stress test is at a facility that operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. WHICH MEANS I CAN’T SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT. And of course the phone number for the facility doesn’t connect me to an actual human, so I can’t ask if I’ll need to bring gym clothes or if I can shower before returning to work or even roughly how much of my day I need to block out to have this done. HEY, YOU! HOSPITAL PEOPLE! WONDERING IF I’M EXPERIENCING STRESS? YOU BET YOUR SWEET BIPPY I’M EXPERIENCING STRESS—AND EVERY IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT HAS YOUR NAME ALL OVER IT!

I did get my flu shot, though. But at the rate I’m going, I’ll probably develop severe egg allergies and be dead by midnight.

8 comments:

Mark said...

I get that same heart thing too, but have never known how to describe it. But "five seconds of working overtime to pump sludge" describes it PERFECTLY.

I can't wait to find out what we have.

vanguard said...

Too bad you don't actually live out here. I do my own skin biopsies (unless the lesion is on the face) and do my own treadmill stress tests. Sounds like a reason for a visit to Cali doesn't it. Btw, ask your doctor to set you up for a Holter monitor as well if the since the palpitations occur on more than a once a day basis...oh and e-mail me if there really is anything I can help you out with or questions I can answer.

RcktMan Rick said...

Jeesus... That's not good Jake. I hope you find someone to examine that thing fast. Skin cancer is NOTHING to toy with.

Can someone PLEASE start singing "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News!" !?!?! PLEASE!!?!?!

Jase said...

I hope everything turns out alright. Best wishes.

Spider said...

"YOU BET YOUR SWEET BIPPY..." - a Laugh-In reference, you are showing your age Bro, but then again, so am I for knowing that.

Todd said...

Hope things go well. This growing older thing sucks, doesn't it?!? Take care of yourself and keep me posted.

Coffee Dog said...

Wow, hope you find that it's all nothing to worry about.

Ryan said...

I get that heart thing too, but only every couple of months. Not fun.