I called the doctor yesterday.
No, I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t injured. (I’d like to revise that statement after this morning’s rope climbs, though. I’m missing a goodly chunk of my shin.) I didn’t need a prescription refilled.
I was making an appointment to get an annual physical like a goddamn adult.
This is kind of a big deal for me. Growing up, going to the doctor for preventative care wasn’t a thing we did. We couldn’t afford it when I was small, and by the time we could afford it we were all out of the habit. So this notion that one can just up and go to the clinic and get things looked at and tested when nothing catastrophic is happening isn’t really part of my cultural narrative. In fact, my dad just went to the doctor for a routine checkup for the first time in twenty years.
It’s not that I didn’t know as a child when I was sick enough and in the kinds of ways that going to the doctor was important. It’s just that sometimes when I voiced that need, I didn’t get to go until the next paycheck came. Or I would get shamed for having expensive needs, like the time I had blood poisoning. That time, the teacher took me to the doctor. When my mom picked me up, she told me “this happened to you because you are dirty. You touched poop.” Which is totally how to make a ten year old with terrifying spidery red marks creeping up her arm feel better.
I know objectively that going to the doctor every year is something that normal people do. Advice columns discuss “your annual physical” as a time to check with your doctor when nothing is wrong, ask questions, head off problems. Hell, you might even find cancer early enough to fix it.
I also know that if you live in America and you’re paying for even part of your health insurance, an annual exam is fiscally sensible. Why spend thousands of dollars a year on zero benefits? Wouldn’t you do better to just put that $300/month in a savings account and have $3600 to spend either on healthcare or just on yourself at the end of the year? You’ve already bought the services. Use them!
But self-care isn’t a habit I have. And from Jack-up-your-shoulder January to Eat-your-feelings August this has not been a good year for me. So even picking up the phone to call the doctor’s office and schedule that physical seemed like an epic quest. Ironically, I’m totally responsible about getting my ladyparts groped regularly and my boobs prodded for lumps.
But I’m really dreading this regular visit to the boring doctor where I will get bloodwork done and ask if that mole on my leg looks weird and all the other hypochondriac bullshit that keeps me awake nights. Because what if I’m not paranoid? What’s worse, knowing that the anomalous test results that I never followed up on mean I have an autoimmune disease, or telling myself that rheumatoid arthritis has definitive symptoms and I’ll know if it becomes active?
Plus, suicide by lack of maintenance is working pretty well for my house and car, so why shouldn’t I go the same way? Much easier than regular suicide, and almost no stigma! Except of course the horrible suffering. So no thanks.
I’ll go to the doctor.
PS the internet says the mole may or may not be cancer, but the way 2014 is going they’ll probably amputate either way.