My day’s highlight came early. The secretary of my Primary Care Physician (PCP) phoned me to remind me of my upcoming appointment with him. Immediately I cringed. Uh-oh, it’s time again for the good doctor to look for unpleasant issues with my body. It’s his job, his livelihood.
So at the appointed hour, I showed up at the PCP’s office, braced to hear everything that’s the matter with me. The handsome Southern Orange County doctor scooted into the examination room where I sat after my current weight and vitals had been established. He scoots because a water skiing accident in his youth smashed his tailbone, so I heard.
He started the session by reporting to me the results of the pre-visit blood tests. Most results are good, he declared with a smile. But your kidney function test numbers aren’t so good. We call those numbers Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Stage 3. Stage 3? I asked with feigned shock. That sounds awfully close to Stage 4. My lung cancer is stage 4. Does this mean my body is in various stages of decay? He replied, I won’t say that. The previous test results were the same, which means the CKD is stable. Aha, I said. That would be me: Ms Stable. Besides, he continued, with CKD your blood pressure should be out of control, but it’s great, and you don’t have other symptoms. We’ll take another blood test in a month and monitor the CKD.
He looked at my weight on the chart. Let us see if you have lost any weight, he said. Not me, I disagreed right away. It’s just perfect right now for a string bikini. He responded: You’re the hippest senior I see. No other senior comes in here for a check up carrying a loaded backpack and wearing Z-Coil shoes.
He kneaded my neck, searching for swollen lymph nodes. Nothing there, he announced. Then he ordered me to sit on the examination table: Get up here, Slim. He raised the back of my aquamarine blouse to do some stethoscope motions on bare skin. A strawberry-ice-cream-colored bra greeted his eyeballs. Sexy bra, he said, and laughed. I’m not big on color coordinated underwear, I confessed, and we laughed. Having found nothing wrong with me yet, he proceeded to drill a small flashlight into my nostrils. You should have allergies, he insisted. But I don’t, I said. He saw nothing and gave up.
Tell me before we say goodbye if there’s anything wrong with you, PCP enjoined with a sense of urgency. Under pressure I felt I had to say something: Bunion. Ten years ago I spent a lot time pondering what to do with the bunion on the outside of the big toe of my right foot. Then came the lung cancer Stage 4 diagnosis and eight months to live prognosis. Suddenly the bunion issue became the least of my concerns. Now it’s front and center again. He was quick: Good! I’ll refer you to Dr Paa (fictitious name; “paa” is Filipino word for feet). He will advise you to either change your shoes or your foot. I exclaimed, I like it! He took advantage of my enthusiasm, I still want you to get a colonoscopy. He was so totally pushing. The last gastroenterologist I saw said nothing needed to be done. Okay, I grudgingly agreed. I’m retired. I’ve nothing else to do.
In conclusion, PCP’s nurse gave me a pneumonia shot and a flu shot. Then PCP gave her instructions: (a) Get approvals for a new gastroenterologist for the colonoscopy, a podiatrist for the bunion, and the opthalmologist for the annual eye exam. (b) Prepare a requisition for kidney and liver function blood tests to be performed in mid-November. Finally, he turned to me and said, Next time bring all the medicines you’re taking. I just feel better when I see them. My turn to think. I suspect he remembered that instead of the calcium pills prescribed by him, I had bought calcium gummies. I had complained that the calcium pills were too big and like horse pills. Get the petites, he had ordered. He probably wanted to be sure next time that I am in compliance.
PCP was determined to keep the retired senior babe shuffling.
Is your PCP like my PCP?