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Columns | "A Balloon In Cactus"

The Doctor Will See You Now

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand
During my annual physical, my longtime doctor announced his retirement. After the initial shock and the "No, no, please don't go," as I fell to the floor and held onto his ankles as desperate as democrats trying to hold onto their seats, it didn't seem too terrible because he recommended a doctor closer to where I live now. That meant, instead of driving 5 hours round trip to Beverly Hills, it'd be just 3 to the new location. Two weeks later, I met his replacement, New Doc, who promptly gave me another physical. The difference between old doc and new doc is like the difference between getting laid and getting laid out.

"Your blood pressure is high," he said. "That's because I'm nervous at being here. My blood pressure was 120/80 at my physical two weeks ago," I said, "same as always." If he'd looked at it, he could've seen that for himself in my medical records from the last 20 years that I'd given him. He also could've listened when I'd told him why I was nervous that day. I was starting to think New Doc was about as good a match for me as the feather duster that old Blue Jay keeps humping.

He wanted me to have a chest X-ray. I didn't want a chest X-ray. I'd just had one. He insisted. He then said, "There are spots on your lungs." "Yes," I said, "My old doctor told me that's scar tissue from smoking 25 years ago." New Doc changed the subject. "You have a kidney infection," "What? I can't have. My urine is as clear as water." "Well," he said, "then you had a kidney infection in the past." This sounded crazy to me, but then I'm not a doctor so I supposed he must be right, right?

He didn't like the results of my new EKG and insisted on my wearing a heart monitor for 24 hours and returning next day. When he saw the results, he sent me to a cardiologist. By this time, scenarios in my head about the Grim Reaper being but moments away increased my agitation so much that I couldn't drive and had to hire a town car. On the way to cardio doc, I had the driver stop while I ran into my lawyer's office and signed a new Will.

Cardio doc read the EKGs, the heart monitor report, and gave me a thorough heart exam. "Nothing wrong with your heart," he said, "It's structurally sound." However, he said my blood pressure was very high and I replied, "What do you expect when I'm about to enter the Crematorium Condominiums? I'm not stupid; on the way here, I went to the lawyer's and signed a Will." He laughed like I was Tina Fey or something and said everybody should have an updated Will, but " ... you're not about to die, at least not yet." He sounded like my mom when he said, "You don't act your age." I told him "You're only young once but you can be immature forever."

Again he reassured me. I said, "What about those extra heartbeats?" He said, "That's quite common. You have nothing to worry about." He took my blood pressure again and it had gone down 20 in the few minutes since he first took it. "Obviously, you agitated yourself into a state that caused your blood pressure to rise, but now that you know you're okay, it's already going down." He also gave me a treadmill stress test; I'd been scared of that but it was as easy as walking the dog and I didn't have to clean up after. Relieved, I considered adding Cardio Doc to my Will.

A week later, I got an email from New Doc who had now decided I have hypertension and wants to see me twice a week to monitor this condition. He advised he had just moved to Beverly Hills! Beverly Hills?? I could've stayed with Old Doc's group just three blocks away from New Doc's new office.

Between the cost of hiring a town car, a lawyer to draw up the Will, and realizing New Doc isn't the one for me, I only hope I don't croak before I can replace him.



© Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
November 20 , 2014 column
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