Frances Edstrom

Healthy thoughts


(1/4/2004)

by Frances Edstrom

I started the new year out right, with a visit to my doctor for a routine physical.

I've noticed lately that every time I get near a medical facility, I am asked to fill out a form or two, or at least sign my name next to the X.

This time they wanted to know if I were interested in getting information about birth control or sexually transmitted diseases. Do you think I'll be called on the carpet for turning them down? Is it the sign of a bad citizen? Does it reflect negatively on my character? You just don't know, do you?

I sincerely wonder if any human ever looks at what I sign, or what happens to all the paperwork. I mean, can this come back to haunt me? What if they do read it? Next time I go to the doctor, will I have to worry that the lady at the desk knows I turned down info on birth control?

To my way of thinking, the weighing habit is way overdone. Sure, we have a problem with obesity in this country. What country wouldn't where you are never more than five minutes away from a meal you don't have to kill, pick or cook?

But doctors and nurses are supposed to be pretty smart and have topnotch observational skills. Do they really have to know how much you weigh to suggest you drop a few pounds? Besides, I think it borders on a mental health issue to have to divulge your weight all the time. Thanks to U.S. resistance to learning the metric system, having my weight taken in kilograms doesn't seem quite as invasive. It's when it's taken in metric tons that I object.

Enough of that. On to the examining room. Who could possibly have thought to call a big piece of paper a "gown" for heaven's sake. The word gown used to have such lovely connotations "” ball gown, cap and gown "” celebratory sorts of things you didn't mind parading around in. How can they hand you a piece of paper folded into some sort of origami configuration that is nearly impossible to unfold in one try, and with a straight face call it a "gown" that "opens" in the back? They must see that it doesn't so much "open" as it doesn't close. They never say, "closes" in the back, do they?

Another question I have is why, if all your customers spend most of their time in nothing but a piece of paper, are you so stingy with the heat? I notice that the people who actually work there wear lab coats or sweaters, and real shoes to keep their toes warm, while I am literally cooling my heels while I wait.

I think the medical field should take a lesson from cosmetologists. It's all in the little touches. When I was going through chemotherapy, in order to get my veins to pop out, the nurses would run a towel under hot water, and then slap it on my arm and cover it with a trash bag. The next day, I could go for a pedicure, and all the girl had to do to find nice hot towels was open a little thing that looked like an apartment-size refrigerator, and there they were, piping hot. Which bill do you think I didn't mind paying?

Somehow at the beauty parlor, they can make it seem perfectly fine to do things like clip your toenails, pluck hairs from places they shouldn't be, and massage your cellulite. Maybe they could give the medical profession some tips about looking in your nose and fiddling with the fat on your stomach looking for your liver.

It's just a thought.

And lastly, why do people who run doctors' offices want you to read a magazine called Money? It seems to me they are running the risk of putting it in their customers' heads that after this visit, they won't have much of a relationship with "money" any more. Stick to Readers Digest is my advice. Reading condensed versions might remind folks of how short life is, and that the doctor may be able to help them out in that regard. And if things are looking hopeless, there are always the jokes.

There, I feel much better.

 

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