I’ve decided to go on strike this week. I’m not talking about work. Gratefully, I’m retired. I’m talking about appointments, most of them medical. It’s not that my doctors aren’t competent or that I don’t need their assistance. I do. But I’ve reached my saturation point. That’s right. I’ve had one too many appointments, and I need a break!
Recently, I’ve been doing physical therapy for a particularly bothersome upper back muscle. That’s one weekly appointment. In the midst of this issue, I developed hip pain that awakens me during the night. Because I’m intolerant of most medications and heat and cold have been ineffective, more physical therapy was prescribed. That’s a second appointment each week. I’ve been in the throes of depression for the past several months, requiring consultation with my psychotherapist and attendance at the group therapy sessions she recommends. That’s two more appointments each week. Last week, I suddenly developed a painful eyelid infection. That meant that in addition to my four ongoing appointments, there was one with the ophthalmologist — for a total of five. There actually would have been a sixth if my six-month checkup at the dentist hadn’t conflicted with the timing of my eye issue. And those were only the medical appointments. Also, there was a critical appointment with my computer consultant, without which I wouldn’t be submitting this writing.
The weather here has been particularly “icky,” which is my “technical” term for too much wind and not enough sun or warmth. Given those conditions, being indoors while waiting for and attending all those appointments wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me. But this weekend, the wind finally died down, the temperature warmed up, and the sun came out. When I considered the inviting possibility of being outdoors — perhaps taking a walk, perhaps visiting a park — I realized there weren’t enough hours in the week or enough energy in my fibromyalgia-fatigued body to both keep all my required appointments and also enjoy the great outdoors. That’s when I decided to strike.
Early Monday morning will find me postponing each of my appointments by exactly one week. Given the scarce availability of some of my providers, I expect the outcome won’t be exactly what I would like it to be. In at least one instance, asking to postpone one week will probably result in a two-week wait. But I won’t be deterred. This week’s focus is all about exercise and vitamin D.
While considering my rather unorthodox vacation from treatment for a week, I wistfully thought back to the days of my youth when our family doctor came to us instead of the other way around. What a blessing it was not to be subjected to the viruses and bacteria that are routinely coughed and sneezed at me in crowded waiting rooms. Better yet, if I felt too ill to get dressed, I just didn’t. The doctor fully expected me to be in bed when he arrived.
For a brief moment, I wondered why we’d abandoned such a wonderful system. And then I considered the downsides — issues like geography and equipment. Instead of being located within walking distance of my home like my childhood doc, my primary care physician today is located a freeway away. Too much of his valuable time would be spent in transit. And then there’s the lack of a laboratory and an X-ray facility that’s adjacent to his office but similarly far away from my home. I had to admit that house calls from doctors don’t make much sense these days for me — or for most people.
But then I considered another segment of our society: those people who suffer from immobilizing chronic conditions as well as the frail elderly. Typically, these folks don’t need a diagnosis as much as they need reassurance and monitoring of their ongoing symptoms. If necessary, blood samples can be taken from home and laboratory equipment can be brought there, too. For them, some combination of the electronic technology of today with the house call mentality of yesterday needs to be arranged. For the time being, I’ll try to be more grateful that I can continue to get myself to my appointments — except for this week, when I’m on strike.
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