Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Questions We Face

Sometimes, I go to the doctor's office, and even though I have diabetes, I feel pretty normal. Maybe I'm there for a sinus infection or a mysterious rash. It's some kind of general illness, the type of visit where my prescriptions will be minimal, no one will poke at my feet with a pin, and no one will request a full record of my blood sugars.

It's just like a regular drill for me. Old hat, I suppose.

Matt has been sick. I found us a doctor here in Blue Bell, and we went for an appointment last night so he could see about getting some antibiotics. I realize, by accompanying him, how foreign doctor's offices can be for most people. He frowned over the forms he had to fill out. I am not a fan of endless paperwork myself, but the questions were different coming from him. The corner of Matt's mouth turned down, and he leaned into me. "Which number is the ID number?" He looked at his insurance card and the multiple sets of numbers that are on the front. ID number, Group number, RX Bin number, Customer Service phone number. I know which of these is which even when they're not labeled.

The nurse finally calls him back, and he asks me to come along. He looks a little confused when he's asked to step up on the scale. He seems lost as she takes his blood pressure, asks him a bunch of questions about his family and medical history.

"Are you allergic to any medications?"

"Yes, penicillin and cephalosporins, and I think pseudoephedrine."

"Are you on any medications right now?"

"No."

As the nurse ticks down the major list of everything they always ask you as a new patient, I think of how many time I've had to go through this routine over the years. How I would answer the questions differently. Heck, half the time I forget to count insulin as a medication when I answer that question. I think of it more like something that I just use to function; I hold it in the same regard as eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom. It's necessary. Oh, and I guess it's medication, since I need a prescription to obtain it.

Family histories come up. Matt's mom has Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. His dad had Thyroid Cancer. Maybe some high blood pressure in his grandparents. Maybe a stroke. One great grandmother with type 2. No stomach or digestive issues. No other major cancer issues. Minimal heart problems.

I think about my Mom's many medical issues over the years, the latest being a potential adrenal problem (but I don't know more about it yet, she just found out today), of my grandfather's skin cancer, my dad's and grandfather's prostate cancer, everybody's high blood pressure (except for my mom), my dad's heart problems (his dad died from a heart attack, too)...I could go on. And on.

We both really liked the new doctor. She seemed really cool. She recommended Matt make an appointment for a physical, so he can get some thyroid tests done, etc. I ask the doc for a recommendation for a new endo, and she told me about one she thinks is really nice and knowledgeable. He got his prescription. We went to get it filled and have some dinner.

I have appointments to make for myself in the near future.

But the whole thing just makes me wonder...what is a healthy family like these days? What's normal to have in your medical history in terms of the bad stuff? When I read off my laundry list of medications and family conditions, do I sound like the average person, or am I some kind of extremist?

5 comments:

  1. No worries, my family is full of medical issues too. Immediate and extended the list could go on for a good length.
    I'm glad you found a suitable doctor, those are hard to find. Good luck with an endo!

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  2. I think it's the sign of the times. We've evolved to a society where almost EVERYONE has a medical issue of varied severity.

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  3. geekgirl3:44 AM

    I usually feel like I'm checking half of the boxes when it comes to medical history. And I don't even know much about my mom's side - there are a lot of gaps in the information. It makes me think about people who just don't know because their families aren't living or they're adopted or whatnot.

    I guess the silver lining of it all is that you were able to guide your SO through the joys of navigating the doctor's office. It'd be nice to be able to print out business cards and charge for the service, LOL.

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  4. You know what my family is like. Aside from the cancers, strokes, MS, Reynaud's, you should see the look on doctors' faces when I point out how rampant alcoholism and serious mental illness are in the family. Be glad that you don't have THAT to 'fess up to at least.

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  5. Hannah,
    I had to laugh when you mentioned forgetting to put insulin under medications, because I know I've done that myself more that once. And yes, I do think that everyone has something in there family history. I'm a nurse, and most patients do have a few things on their family history to watch for- but it doesn't have to mean we will get them ourselves.

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