Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Inappropriate "Thank You" Note?!

I still remember that phone call that my dad got. My mom, on the other line, she is to this day the head of a hospital lab, and she was telling him about the "awful" disease that she herself just discovered I had.

Dad was in tears. I didn't know why. All I heard him say was: "Oh, GOD! She will never be normal. No kids. Not much for food. What CAN she eat?? No life, pretty much. Who knows how long she's got?!" - I will never forget those words, and dad crying.

I didn't get to hear what mom said, and I didn't know about whom they were talking, but I knew it was not good. They had just found out about my genetic disease, and they were preparing for the worst. I had no clue what "the worst" meant, though. I was 6.

From then on, whatever I 'had' became part of my life. Became a lifestyle. I never questioned "why me". I never blamed my parents for it, although they do enough of that themselves. I just took it as it was, just like one gets used to not being a blond, nor tall, nor with antelope legs. Whatever that was, was part of me; and grew with me. Only later in life I suffered because it made me lose men I loved, and kept me from doing things I wanted to do. But that was later. And even then, I accepted my fate.

As part of living my life, the best I was able, I had hundreds if not thousands of doctors' appointments all these years since that phone call. Tests after tests, that "normal" people don't do till they're 65-70-80 or never. Blood drawn every week. Month. Every three months. Every 6 months. What have you. Industrial quantities (only a mild exaggeration) of drugs, always changing, diets, etc. No cure, of course. Just meds to "prolong life", and that's about it. Just fighting the clock. Every year I add to my "resume" is a good year, to brag about to my doctors. Again: my life! I never complain about it, and unless prompted and asked, I don't talk much about it. It's so much who I am, that I almost don't think about mentioning it much to folks.

But there was a huge side effect to it all - aside from the drug-induced ones: I hate doctors! I hate going to see one, I hate their indifference, for the most part, and the way they treat you like a book chapter.Their only merit in me being alive today is that are allowed by law to write prescriptions. I have a TON of respect for pharmacists and researchers, but ... docs ... they're just scriveners with a VERY expensive degree to me. And of course, a very high rate! They are the highest paid spectators of life as it happens, have you noticed that?! And yes, I am generalizing, but trust me: I have seen enough of them to be entitled to this! I have friends who are doctors, and agree with me 100%! And of course, every rule has exceptions, so we won't touch those. But I digress...

I have doctors' appointments like some people go to the grocery store: regularly. And I mean at least 10-15 times a year. Sometimes with "regular" doctors, sometimes (more often) with "specialists".
I am not only used to them, but I also always expect the routine - as it's always the same: give me the co-pay, they shrug, they ALL say "well, *sigh*, you were dealt a bad hand, ma'am. But you LOOK great". And they send me home, with another appointment in hand, and a new combo of meds. And life goes on. And they probably built vacation homes and buy Porches for each member of their families with my money alone, as often as they see me.

So, docs don't phase me anymore. I go to them, like one goes to church, because "the wife makes them", but doesn't "really" believe, you know. But doesn't fight it, either, 'cause they want to "get some" at the end of the week.

Emotionally, I feel no one way or another about them: I don't like them much, but I always go. And I almost always do as they say. Well, this was the case, till this one last time. This last appointment finally stirred some emotion in me. Through my whole Odyssey of doctor appointments , for sooo many years, I never had to be put under - as in given anesthesia, that is... This one last test they did required that. I was terrified, almost, if anything health related can "terrify" me anymore.

A proud control freak (not really "that" proud), I never stomached the idea of total anesthesia! So, I was a little more then apprehensive that you know: I might not make the "trip back". It all went well, thanks to an Iranian anesthesiologist, that was extra careful and probably more afraid of what my body might do than I was myself.

Several days later, I get yet another surprise from this whole frightening experience and also a first for me: I have never, in my life, gotten a "thank you" note from my doctor (any of them) for being their patient... I always felt, and still do, that it might be a bit ... well... inappropriate... "Thank you for being sick"?? - How's that for a recognition?! What should my reaction/ answer be: "Well, you're welcome! I am an encyclopedia your Med School has not written yet, so now, go ahead, have at ME, and plan for your mansion in Palm Springs. You caught a real BIG one this time, you lucky bastard! " ?!

But this time, not only did I get a "thank you" from a doctor, but I did from the first one I was truly afraid to death to make an acquaintance with. And my apprehension left aside, who REALLY needs to be thanked that they were so sick they needed to be put under to do a test?! They didn't even "fix" anything by doing that!

I am still (a little more than) fuzzy on how I should feel about it. This is one of those moments when "nice" is indeed a relative term! Somehow, the fact that I am 33 and I have had to do several MRI's, and a heart cath, and an endoscopy, and a stress test, and several Doppler tests, and hundreds of EKG's and ultrasounds of all my insides, and ... I am not going to go on here... is not a "privilege" to me... I don't care how much business I am providing them, I am really not delighted to find out that they're grateful for it!

I know. Ungrateful till the end, aren't I?! I guess this is a side effect of it all, too. But ask any Poker player: who is EVER grateful or resigned when they've been "dealt a bad hand" and you're allowing everyone else, but yourself, to keep gaining?! Ask them. And get back with me... Till then, I am "fuzzy" still on this letter. I think I'll frame it!

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