It’s really great that I set doctors appointments a year in advance, because it means I won’t forget to call and make appointments.
But then, a year later, I am horrified when these appointments pop up unexpectedly on my Outlook calendar at the most aggravating times.
For some reason, all of them seem to come in a big wave at the end of the year.
And it causes me a lot of anxiety.
When I was younger, I took my good immune system for granted. I would go to an appointment and expect everything would be ok. And it was.
I remember when first out of college and well into my first career job with health benefits, laughing about the fact they really weren’t benefits at all, because I never used them. I would go years sometimes between appointments with no repercussions. I guess I was one of those snarky kids Obama is trying to get to sign up for the new health plan to pay for the rest of us. Back then I thought I was invincible.
Never a cavity. No glasses. Normal height. Normal Weight. No broken bones. Not high-risk for anything too odd. Normal, normal, normal…
But then a few years ago, something changed.
It’s like as soon as you turn 40, suddenly, even if healthy, you start getting the call-backs.
It started with my first call-back after a mammogram, that left me anxious for a good month, as I had to come back in for an ultrasound and then wait for results. Then for the first time in my life last year I had a call back after a Ob-Gyn visit, that resulted in a follow-up, something called a colposcopy that was pretty horrible. Even the hygienist at the Dentist’s office last year had me worried when she thought my gums looked a little blotchy.
What could that be? What am I doing wrong? Why am I falling apart? I began to wonder…
So now, in 2013, I don’t take normal for granted anymore and I’m please to say, so far so good!
I have two down already, Ob-Gyn last month, where I just received a letter in the mail saying I’m A-OK for now (happy dance!). And I just received a thumbs up from the Dentist on Monday. Although I don’t think I did anything different this year, they told me I somehow stepped up my game.
The last reminder just popped up on the calendar when I logged in this week: The Yearly Physical.
Typically the yearly physical is where I shine. I’m highly aware of everything I eat. I treat exercise like my career. My doctor, who likely spends all day warning people that they need to stop eating fast food and soda and start walking every day, or at least getting up from their computers once in a while, looks at me and says “don’t change a thing!”.
His only recommendation last year? Take a Vitamin D tablet, because in Vermont, we get no sun.
But the part that drives my anxiety sky high, is something you would never, ever guess.
It’s that I absolutely, positively, detest numbers.
And when I get that end of year report card from my physical, showing all my numbers–normal or not–they drive me into a highly-competitive state.
I suspect this is on account of my career as a marketer. If a number ever crosses my path, it gets swept up into a pivot table in Excel and sliced and diced 20 different ways, categorized and analyzed over time. And if there is any variation at all, I’m awake at night thinking about why, how and what if?
And the worst number of all for me is that silly one every doctor takes as soon as you walk through the door.
The one you get when you step on a scale.
Over the last two years, knowing my obsessive behavior in response to numbers, I have been working hard to rid my life of them. I had used calorie counting for a few years and stopped. At one point I micro-managed my nutrient intake (and yes, there was a way-too-detailed pivot-table involved) to ensure all my numbers were where they should be: protein, carbs, fat, sugar, sodium, etc…but eventually stopped.
And about 2 years ago, I unceremoniously relegated the bathroom scale to the downstairs closet. Because any fluctuation in my weight would make me think I need to bring back all the numbers to manage it. And I don’t want that anymore. Adopting the if-the-clothing-still-fits attitude seems to work well for me.
But when you go to the Doctors office, you can’t avoid it.
When I visited the Ob-Gyn a few months ago, although I felt slightly dumb, I asked the nurse if she would mind if I turned around so I couldn’t see the number on the scale, and asked her not to tell me. She was ok with it. But with a yearly exam, I’m not sure that’ll work, because BMI, body mass index, your height and weight ratio, is all anyone really seems to care about. My husband actually told me yesterday they had a meeting about changes in the health insurance, and that BMI was now going to be tracked for our health plan from now on.
So the anxiety has started in anticipation of learning for a fact what I know in my mind already: that I have gained a few pounds.
Even though I know I’m ok. I’m healthy.
And that fluctuation is normal.
I’m going to have to turn on every coping skill I possess to keep this knowledge from driving me numbers-crazy once again. But I’ll also be proud I didn’t let my appointments lapse, and that I do not take my health for granted like I used to do when I was a younger adult.
Every year now I get my health report card: if anything does go wrong, we catch it early and then hopefully move on.
At least until next year, when I start to see those new appointments pop back up on the calendar, and the worrying cycle begins once more…
Do you find Doctors appointments make you anxious? Do you keep up with all your appointments now, or do you need to get better at that? Would love to hear your stories and discussion…