Rob Taylor: My lifelong search for Dr. If-You-Feel-Any-Pain-This-One’s-On-the-House.
November 17, 2008
It’s step one: admitting the problem. So, here goes: Iatrophobia. There. I said it. That’s my problem … fear of going to the doctor.
Before you tell me to “suck it up,” call me a wimp and fling the Book of Macho at me, consider this: My first childhood memory is getting a shot – one that I feared would land me in the rose garden adjacent to the family poodle’s curly, decaying corpse.
Since then, I trust no one, especially those who pull down a six-digit salary for “practicing.”
Can you blame me? My gastrointestinal specialist named a yacht after me; nurses have told me more than once, “Pull your pants down. This will just sting a little,” and my general practitioner charges me $200 for 30 minutes of waiting, 15 minutes of paperwork and five minutes of “service” ” taking my blood pressure, my pulse, examining my tongue, then announcing, “You have a cold, go home and rest.”
Scarred as I am, to this day I remain a medical anomaly. I take aspirin once, maybe twice a year (you only have one liver). And I still have the trifecta in tact: my tonsils, my gall bladder and my appendix (probably because I watch my back).
It’s a trust thing, a wallet thing, a “doctors put my poodle to sleep because it was ‘the
best thing for him'” thing.
Nothing personal. I have dental horror stories, too. The way I see it, Dirty Harry’s inspiration came from my childhood dentist.
“Open your mouth and say ahhhh,” he said, after gushing over how glad he was to
see me again. Then, I swear, he would mumble, “Do it. Go ahead. Make my day.”
After extracting my wisdom teeth and doing some exploratory drilling, his interest in me waned; he left the grunt work – the flossing lectures – to his capable assistants.
“Your teeth are beautiful. It would be a shame to lose them,” they all said, insinuating, peering into crystal balls, seeing the future me gumming food and whistling the letter “S” through dentures.
When their Rembrandt description of toothlessness was complete, they loaded me up with state-of-the-art toothpicks, minty floss, a shiny new toothbrush and crossed their fingers. But, much to their horror, just like all the others, I opened the door and stepped out of the dental office into a world teeming with lethal bacteria, inevitable plaque and periodontal tragedy.
For some reason, my Iatrophobia does not surface during visits to the optometrist. My most recent checkup was almost painless … almost.
“D F G 7,” I said aloud, rattling off line after line of microscopic word and letter combinations projected on the wall in front of me.
For fun, I memorized the eye chart before my appointment.
I had the good eye doctor going for a while – convincing her that my vision was bird-like and my glasses were just for show. Served her right for shooting air in my eye under the guise of a glaucoma test.
I know. I know. It’s for my own good, and there are some fine doctors, dentists, optometrists living among us – those that don’t get a sick thrill from torturing patients … or so I am told.
But for the rest of you skeptics like me, for those contemplating a checkup in the near future, one bit of advice: Steer clear scheduling appointments with namesakes like Dr. Hurt, Dr. Strangelove and Dr. Meat-Axe. If you see a Dirty Harry poster hanging on the wall, run for your life.
With apologies to PETA, demand that nurses give the same shot to an animal two hours before you drop your drawers … something I learned from my poodle. Always get a second opinion. And don’t forget due diligence: Scour the Yellow Pages for someone with a name like Dr. If-You-Feel-Any-Pain-This-One’s-On-the-House.
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