I mentioned recently that a member of my household is enrolled in a concierge physician practice. It’s not me. Most of my own healthcare treatments follow a specific pattern, which played out again last night at a get-together:
During a lull in the conversation, I announced that I’ve been having trouble with my right arm. It aches constantly, especially at night, and seems unrelated to whether I’ve been exercising it or not. It’s been going on for a couple months now and it hurts enough to keep me awake.
Richard suggested that perhaps it was aching for a new tattoo. But then, he cautioned, he’s not a doctor. Or a tattoo artist.
Allison asked a bunch of questions about the nature of the pain, the specific location, whether it hurts more if I elevate it or keep it down, and how I’ve been treating it. And then she reminded me that she’s a project manager for a software development firm.
Kelvin suggested I try living out my daily routine left-handed for a few days to determine whether I’m just hurting it through repetitive strain. He also mentioned that he’s a computer coder.
“It could be cancer. Or a blood clot.” said Dee, who’s got the most medical knowledge of anyone there, since she spends a lot of time looking at WebMD online. “Hey, here’s an idea – you could go to the doctor!”
I don’t really like going to the doctor though. I do have a primary care physician. I got one in August after about two years of avoiding it. My health insurance changed in 2011 so I needed to get a new practice but I just never got around to it.
Over the summer though, I was required to have a physical for one of my extracurricular activities so I finally broke down and picked a practice after a lot of painstaking research that involved calling an office I’d seen near my house and asking 1. “Do you take my insurance?” and 2. “Can I come in this month?”
So I have a doctor. But I don’t want to actually go. I don’t have any particular reason for my aversion, except that most of my experience with doctors is that I go in for something like chronic pain in a body part, and they mess with it a bit, ask some questions, and then tell me that I’m not 20 anymore so obviously things are going to hurt some.
I don’t mind that either, except it costs an hour out of my day and a copay. My friends could tell me the same thing in my living room. Which is how I usually solve most of my health problems. Sometimes they prescribe over-the-counter drugs for me as well — usually either ibprofen or cough syrup, depending on the nature of my affliction.
Personally, I’m inclined to agree with Richard’s suggestion that my arm is aching for a new tattoo. But I am going to get a second opinion – my friend Gabby is a palliative care nurse so when none of my first-tier medical experts agree on a cure, I call her for a tie-breaking vote, which is still usually “GO TO THE DOCTOR!” Then I take two aspirin and figure I’ll just ask again next week.
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