humor · mental health

Doctors: Friend or Foe?

I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of doctors. I wouldn’t say I hate doctors either. Not on a personal level. Well, not on a personal level without reason. I hate the asshole that operated on my arm on a very personal level, but I was 28 when that happened and still can’t talk about it.

I’m not sure why I can’t go to a doctor as an adult. Aside from the obvious money issue. They always want too much, but far more sophisticated people are making those arguments elsewhere. I can think of a few things that contributed to the problem, but can’t lay blame on any one thing.

In the 4-6 age range, I had frequent ear aches. Instead of taking me to a doctor, Mom waited for Uncle Radiologist to come to town. I didn’t understand the term radiologist yet. To me, he was just a doctor, that word really only has one meaning to a child.

This is creepy close to what he looks like.

This man took me over to a lamp, pinned my head against a table top with one hand, used the other to stretch my ear, and breathed his hot, nasty breath into it. He didn’t see anything to worry about.

He didn’t even use one of those magnifying light-up things. This would be the last time in my life I voiced any discomfort to my parents. Clearly, those people could not be trusted.

If I got sick, I kept it to myself. If I sprained my wrist and it looked like a golf ball was under my skin, I kept a sleeve over it and went about my business. If I had my period and thought I was dying, I stuffed TP and move on. It’s called perseverance.

Now, they weren’t stupid, not unless you’re discussing politics or pandemics at least. They could see when I had the flu or something, but we never talked about it. It was never acknowledged. I slept a lot, and when I woke up it was like the Shoemaker and the Elf. There was suddenly fresh water and light snacks on my nightstand.

When a week passed and I was still sick, Mom would start leaving better gifts, like a new game or DVD set. Those were bribes. In exchange, I traded her my dirty clothes and took a shower. It was a great system that worked well for our family.

As a child, money meant little to me, so the main thing that sticks out is Mom’s aversion to doctors. It’s stronger than most of the doctor haters out there. She once withstood kidney stone pain for three days before she let Dad take her to the ER.

They decided this was when they would leave me home alone for the first time. It was the summer before 6th grade, and I was so excited at the prospect, I stopped being afraid Mom was dying. The house even felt lighter once her glooming presence was on the way to the hospital.

This newfound sense of freedom was amazing. I basked in its glory for a solid 5 minutes before I heard the first strange noise. We lived in a 90’s mobile home with metal siding, and those tend to make all kinds of popping noises. Sadly, no one was there to tell me this.

I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. Those noises could only be someone trying to scare me before they came in to murder me. I tried to Home Alone my way through it. I mostly paced, trying not to piss myself while turning my toys into clever traps. I couldn’t make a single one.

I have no idea how long I waited for something to come get me, but eventually an Aunt came to check on me. She said Mom had a kidney stone and Dad was staying overnight with her. I had to go home with Aunt.

I was too embarrassed to admit I was afraid, but it must have been obvious because it was almost a year before they left me alone again. When she arrived, the bubble on my imaginary world popped. I was back in reality. I wasted my chance at unsupervised mischief being a cry baby.

The stay with Aunt and Uncle got awkward a few times. I was excited they had internet, I could look at Pokémon cards online, but Aunt made me promise not to look at porn. Ok lady I don’t know what that is but you made me curious.

Lucky for her, not curious enough to waste all that page loading time on whatever search engine was used back then… If there were search engines. I’ll have to Google what year Googling became the standard.

OMG I just realized how much easier my life would have been if I could have Googled “Why is my vagina pouring blood?” or “What do I do to stop my vagina from bleeding through my pants?”

Google would have been like “Use a tampon, what’s wrong with you?” and I’d be like That’s what I’ve been asking!”

Sorry, that was another tangent, but my parents picked me up the next afternoon and we all went home to live awkwardly, but safely, until I was 14.

One of my friends wanted to go to a hunting camp with her 19 year old boyfriend. It’s worth mentioning her boyfriend was also engaged to her best friend’s sister. She was a wild one.

Knowing how shy and awkward I was, her mother set a rule: I go with her or nobody went. There would be no adults, but she thought I would keep refusing, or at least keep her from the worst end of the trashy, drunk girl spectrum.

I lasted most of the day before I caved. Once Friend told BF his plans to get laid hinged on me, he bought me cigarettes and a bottle of Mad Dog. I grew up an only child (Unless you count a half sister I learned about at 15 but I really can’t get on that tangent) which meant I never had access to someone old enough to get me these things. This was the first time I had my own! I was weak and paid dearly.

That lovely experience entailed several hours of drinking alone, watching Con-Air on a crappy tv. That was where my friend left me while they went to bang the night away. To this day I’m not sure what changed to make us have to leave, but the entire group BF had up there all had to get out at once.

At one point my friend and I asked to ride with someone else because BF was drunk and had one of those tiny trucks with no backseat. No one would take us.

That idiot wrecked before we even got on the highway. Teenagers rarely wear seatbelts and I was no exception. Aside from some cuts on my arms and back, I sustained the only serious injury with a broken collarbone.

Fun fact: collarbones are called clavicles. Knowledge is power.

I was forcibly taken to the hospital, the paramedics claimed I had no choice as a minor. I was livid. People were touching me. I was in pain, but no one wanted to give a kid any drugs. They wouldn’t knock me out either (I said please). My friend rode with me, and we sang Pretty Girl by Sugarcult until paramedics begged us to stop.

The whole ordeal was just horrid in every way. The one break I caught was Mom being unable to see me. She can’t handle seeing people in hospital beds to the point she lost a decent inheritance over it.

The worst part to a small town like mine, if someone spent that many years in school to be a doctor, they don’t choose to work there. They work there because nowhere else would take them. I freely admit half my attitude was due to being a teenager in shock, but I feel like I should point out a couple shorter examples to show I’m not exaggerating about the doctors. These are small potatoes compared to how bad it gets, but sufficient for this purpose.

** I knew someone who woke up in the middle of having their tonsils removed because they didn’t do her anesthesia correctly. She went into shock. **

** This same friend from the wreck went in during 5th grade. They took out her appendix and she almost died because the problem was a failing kidney. They flew her to a better hospital after the appendix was out. **

So back to my thing: I never saw the same person come in the room twice. Each new person made me repeat everything I said to the last one. They were all writing while I talked… were they busy with something and not listening… or do they just have 20 charts with the same information but no one is making copies?

I told each person my shoulder was dislocated. I didn’t know much, but I knew something was seriously wrong there. I begged, “Please make it stop.”

Finally, they took me for x-rays. That is when they really started screwing with me.

Even though my only complaint was my shoulder, they had to x-ray my head first. They removed $150 worth of earrings I got the day before, and said, “Hold still while I pull your arms down.”

“Wait!” I tried my best to calmly explain it again. No one seemed to give any fucks. The guy pulling my arm had to raise his voice to be heard over my scream. He had the balls to say “I already saw your arm. It’s just a bruise, you wouldn’t be sitting up otherwise.”

Hello Black Rage, where have you been? I lost it and will probably never recover the memory of profanities I strung together like a Mozart of cursing. No one else tried to speak to me until a different person brought the results. It was a broken collarbone, not a dislocated shoulder. Excuse the hell out of me for Grey’s Anatomy not being a show yet.

** Fun Grey’s fact: it’s not named for the character, but the medical textbook **

Either way I wanted the X-ray guy’s head on a pike. They finally gave me something for pain and put a brace over my shoulders. I could only wear button up shirts for the next month. The ones I owned were silk pajamas. Thankfully school was out for summer break.

I would also be forced to sleep in one of those basket chairs with the wicker base and huge round cushion since I couldn’t pull myself up from a laying position. I had the awkward relationship with my parents, so friends helped me with the tasks like washing my hair.

When it was finally over and I could take the brace off, it smelled so bad Mom wanted to throw it out. That brace and I had been through so much together. I couldn’t just toss it out.

I refused every bribe, it’s a permanent fixture in my life. Never underestimate the possessiveness of an only child. I couldn’t get rid of it any more than one of my cats. I still have it to this day, but now it’s because I fought so hard to keep it I really can’t let it go.

Mom got serious about cleaning it once she saw I wouldn’t cave. She washed it with tons of different cleaners, and attached it to a ceiling fan to air out. It still stinks, but it’s not strong enough to give off an odor unless you seriously get your face in there.

I don’t do anything with it. It’s in a tote at the bottom of a closet and I never think about it, but I can’t throw it out.

In conclusion, these are my best guesses at why I will go to extremes to avoid doctors. It may even have something to do with catching chicken pox at 22. Please vaccinate your children.

Thank you, imaginary audience, for your gracious support.

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