A birthday is sort of like a medical check-up, right?
I’m kidding. Birthdays are celebratory. Check-ups are not – they are terrifying (for me, at least.)
This week marks two occasions – my husband’s birthday, and the first positive medical experience I’ve had in almost three years.
Let’s start with the birthday – that’s the fun stuff.
For any gift-giving holiday, I am usually stumped on what to get for [REDACTED]. He is the worst when it comes to gift giving because usually if there is something he wants, or needs, he will do the research, find the best deal, and buy the thing himself.
He is also generally a content person. There aren’t many items or experiences (that fit within my budget) that would make a drastic improvement on his everyday life. There were two such things, but I got them for him as christmas presents. If you must know, they are a weighted blanket and a cozy cardigan.
Lucky for me, a great opportunity to give [REDACTED] a gift that he would love presented itself. In case you haven’t heard, The Office is leaving Netflix. That is a big deal in our household. Checking in on the Dunder Mifflin staff is an almost weekly ritual. We throw on episodes as the background noise to everything from cleaning to decorating to unwinding after a full day.
The gift was obvious; the boxed set of every Office episode.
While it wasn’t a surprise, since [REDACTED] had dropped a few hints leading up to the big day, it was what he would have gotten for himself – which means he definitely wanted it. Great success!
To celebrate his birthday, [REDACTED] and I discussed going out to dinner and a movie at our favorite spot (it’s one of those movie theaters that serves you dinner and drinks at your seat – ooh la la!)The other option was to stay in, I would make dinner, and we could watch a movie on the couch – or play a board game. Option two was the more “thrifty” alternative to a night out on the town.
Since it was his birthday I gave him final call.
We stayed in. [REDACTED] used his powers of research and got us a dual-player video game, I made a very tasty meal, and we hung out.
Since the new semester has started up, [REDACTED]’s class schedule keeps him on campus late a few days a week. I’ve picked up a teaching gig on Saturday mornings (it’s a drama class for 4-5 year !) Not to mention, when we are both at home there is homework and chores and meals to prep and dishes to clean and a dog to walk, the list goes on…
We don’t have many moments to just be together. This moment was excellent – a perfect celebration.
Now for the check-up.
Ugh. There are so many things I don’t like about medical check-ups.
I don’t like being naked in front of strangers, I don’t like seeing the number on the scale when I get weighed, and I especially don’t like anything to do with needles.
I have had every manner of negative reaction to fluids entering exiting my body by way of a needle. I have passed out, vomited, even had a full-on panic attack. The one thing I have discovered can help allay some of these fears is a simple reminder to myself to breathe.
This generally requires that I be singing.
It isn’t particularly comfortable to sing in front of strangers, especially if they weren’t necessarily expecting you to sing in front of them, but it’s better than the alternatives.
It also definitely requires the cooperation of the medical professional.
I have a specific order of operations that I request whenever I can’t avoid needles:
1 – I have to know exactly what you are doing, from when you are unwrapping supplies to when I should expect to feel a “pinch.” It does not have to be any more detailed than that.
2 – I will turn away and start to sing, then you can approach me with the needle, but you have to tell me that you are coming towards me. (Once,I was not warned that a flu shot was nearing my arm and I responded by pulling my arm away and effectively ripping the needle out of my skin.)
3 – I will keep singing, and you can tell me when it’s over, and then I will stop singing.
That’s it. Three very basic rules, most of which are just that I need to be singing and I need to know what the medical professional is doing. It isn’t much, but it has been an ongoing challenge to explain my needs and have my requests taken seriously.
I have been to two different primary care physicians in the past three years for my annual check-up, both times I left the appointment in tears, usually for various surprise-needle related scenarios.
Well, the time of year when I am expected to make an appointment and check that I am a healthy human being rolled around again. As much as I wanted to avoid it, I decided to be a grown-up and make an appointment with a new PCP here in our new city.
I went onto my insurance company’s website, typed in my parameters, and found a clinic. It sounds easy, but wow – there is a lot of complicated wording and sneaky guidelines to finding an easily accessible medical provider that also meets my insurance’s criteria.
Cue celebratory fanfare – the appointment went smoothly!
I won’t bore you with the details. Here is a brief summary of the highlights of my appointment:
1 – The nurse had a good sense of humor, and make a note in my file about my phobia of needles (the doctor confirmed, she had seen the note)
2 – The doctor took her time, asked me plenty of questions, and invited me to ask whatever questions I had.
3 – There were no needles. Not even a mention of needles or having my blood drawn. There was clear communication, mutual respect, and even some shared laughter.
While it was much more fun to celebrate [REDACTED]’s birthday, I felt a big weight lifted after finding a doctor that made me feel like I have a voice and a say in my health care.
Sometimes, you just need a little smooth sailing in a sea of uncertainty to right your ship and re-calibrate your compass.
That Saturday class I mentioned? The one where I get to teach kids drama? My internal compass tells me I want more of that.