An appointment with fear

Into the great unknown — the great unknown of the medical visit.

Peter Warland

“I have nothing to say, and I’ll only say it once.” / Floyd Smith, hockey coach

Honestly, I am not one of these folk who check medical sites on Google then complain that they seem to suffer from every known disease except, maybe, house-maid’s knee. In fact, if I am told that I have a medical problem, I feel insulted. I am therefore anxious about visiting doctors.

In a doctor’s ‘surgery’ you’ll inevitably encounter some acquaintance or other and you’ll ask, “How’s it going?” and be assured that things are all right. But then, when you find a seat and wait and pick up all sorts of ancient magazines plus an assortment of other people’s ailments, you think “If he’s okay, what’s he doing here?” then, “What am I doing here?”

Local doctors have been good, diligent, patient and extremely kind to me and my family but, I’m sure, they’re not aware that they’re becoming a danger to my mental health.

A week or so ago, I visited my doctor. It’s the duty of the elderly to visit doctors because, if we didn’t totter into their offices occasionally, they’d get bored.

My doctor gave me a thorough going-over and said that, for my age, I was doing all right. However, she said, “Your blood pressure is a little high.”

I naturally believed that this was the case because I was in (a) a doctor’s office (b) the doctor was an attractive female, and so dismissed my concerns. The doctor then informed me that she would not need to treat me for this high pressure but that I should, on occasion, stick my arm in one of those infernal blood-pressure machines that lurk in drugstores.

I ignored this instruction mainly because, fortunately, I seldom have need to visit a drugstore but, one day, I opted to have a go. I read the instructions carefully, ripped off my jacket and plunged my arm in. I pressed the start button and awaited the tidings.

When I read the results and compared them with the “normal” figures on the machine, I almost passed out. I was, I reckoned, just a few short steps from death. Sweating all over, I went home to die.

The next day I forced myself into yet another drugstore and tried again. And again I got the scary results. I scarcely slept a wink that night, fearing I might wake up deceased. Amazingly, I survived the weekend but, on Monday morning, I phoned the doctor’s office, was informed that my doctor would not be available for a week or so and then, when I begged (on my knees) for another doctor, got myself an appointment.

The new doctor informed me that my blood pressure was all right except for the supposedly low–diastolic- end. I sighed audibly. Then she suggested that there was a bit of a skip in my heart beat and that I should go and have an E.C.G. I did know what that was and so did as I was told. Later, I was shown a huge graph with my poor old heart skipping beats, the way it must have done when I first saw the girl who was to become my wife.

The new doctor gave me a prescription, cancelled one my own doctor had prescribed then told me to come in a week later.

The following week, I was in such a panic that I dragged my old body up several mountains without any malfunction of my aged heart, and began to relax.

Coming in one day, I noticed that someone at “Regional Health” had phoned me. My heart skipped several beats in a row, so I sat down and made myself some tea, wondering if it were to be my final “cuppa” on this earth.

Eventually, I called the number back, explaining who I was and what might be the problem might be, but nobody at the far end had any clues as to what it was all about. I sat down at my computer and started work on my own obituary, wondering if I had time to finish it.