Several years go, I confessed to a doctor that I feared everything associated with her profession: The sterile waiting room, pre-appointment paperwork, sitting on a long sheet of rough tissue paper in the doctor’s office as I wait for her to pop in and give me the verdict, the florescent lighting, and half-baked landscape paintings on the wall. She said I was probably more afraid of what I’d hear than actually seeing a doctor and added that she would always rather know what is wrong with her than sit around trying to figure out the problem herself.
Her approach is the best way to go, and it’s the one I forced myself to take today. This morning, I went to two much-needed doctor’s appointments only to learn that I’m basically okay. At 9:00 a.m., I saw a hand surgeon in the upper west side to check out my finger pain. When I was at home in California two months ago, I leaped from the couch to answer my ringing cell phone and had a collision with my kitchen table. As I wrote in a Tea to Friends blog post, I basically had a one-way fist fight with the table…and the wooden Thomas Kinkade table won. My pinky has been hurting ever since, so I had the doctor take a look today.
Though the receptionist was quite chatty and asked me several questions about my thoughts on the Oscars ceremony, the doctor had zero bedside manner, which I was fine without, as I wanted to skip out on the fluff and see how much damage I’d done to myself. As it turns out, I merely sprained my finger, which will heal in time. I just have to be careful opening jars and holding doors. Lately I’ve had to pull open doors with my left hand, as the right simply can’t hold much weight right now. I remember doors being a major problem when I broke my toe as well. It’s amazing how hard crossing a threshold can be. My finger will improve once the weather warms up, so there’s nothing to fret about, but like my little toe, I may feel the pain in my pinky bone for a long time.
Of course, I prepared for the worst last week when I published my blog entry on being terrified of doctors. A commentator said that untreated finger damage can potentially be so harmful that doctors must break the bones to reset them, and that certainly wasn’t what I’d had in mind. The image of Kathy Bates swinging a giant hammer at Paul Sheldon’s already embattled legs in “Misery” swam through my head, but I knew deep down I wouldn’t reach this point.
I walked out of the appointment okay and with the knowledge that I have “supple joints for a lady” and that “most women have loose joints.” I still have no clue what the doctor meant by that, but I assume it’s a compliment? Am I wrong? Doctors-in-training, explain.
My next appointment was with the eye doctor, whom I informed upfront that I fainted at my last exam. He laughed and said that’s somewhat common and that he’s usually able to predict which patients will and will not pass out during their visits.
“So what kind of person gives off fainting vibes?”
“Typically young women your age, and occasionally guys in that age group as well,” he said.
Luckily I didn’t experience the Vasovagal response this time. When I became nervous during the startling eye puff test for glaucoma, I thought of Crystal, my good friend who is in optometry school and assures me on a regular basis that I need to give my eyes more credit. They’re resilient and not as fragile as many make them out to be. Crystal offered to accompany me to my last appointment, but didn’t get the chance to talk me through it because I chickened out the day before. She was here in spirit today.
The good news is I don’t need glasses. My vision is near perfect, but I squint a lot, so the doctor said it’s really up to me whether I invest in anything extra. I’ve actually been squinting nonstop since childhood, and if it hasn’t blinded me by now, I don’t think it ever will, although it could explain some of the migraines I get. Crystal’s mom noticed my squinting in fifth grade, when I’d strain my eyes to look at their living room TV, but eye doctors told me back then that I had excellent vision. Thankfully, they’ve pretty much maintained their strength over the years, and the doctor said I’m almost to the point where he’d advise against getting a prescription, so I’m going to think it over. That said, I’m going to take better care of my eyes in other ways. No more staring at my laptop for hours on end or working in the dark.
Even though I walked out of both appointments totally fine, it’s nice to receive that confirmation from doctors rather than just from myself. Hopefully I won’t have to step into another doctor’s office for at least six months.