Smokey the Magnificent

Failing the Turing Test since 1986

Ah, Doctors

I had a doctor’s appointment today. It went differently in my head.

What I planned to do was march in there and say “Look, peon, I’m sick of being exhausted all the time. Test me up for chronic fatigue, mono, low thyroid, hysterical pregnancy, diabetes, anaemia, sleep apnea, lupus, bubonic plague and whatever else you got until we whup this thang.”

What actually happened was the doctor saying “I see you haven’t had a cervical smear for a while. I’ll just go ahead and book you in. Yes, I know, I know, but we like to do it just as a screening process.”

My doom thus sealed, I got to fill in a multi-choice quiz about how much I wanted to kill myself and others (Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never or Only After Being Shanghaied Into a Cervical Smear?); according to which I still have ‘moderate’ depression, which is a bit of a chiz given that I’ve been shelling out, um, $3 every three months for Citalopram. (Apologies to my American readers.) She suggested I up the dose. “After all, 20mg is a bit on the low end for your weight”, she said, which wasn’t very cheering. This feeling was compounded when she went behind me, massaged my neck, said “Swallow” and then returned to her seat with an airy “No, it isn’t your thyroid. You just have a full neck, like me. It looks a little bit like thyroid, but it isn’t.”

Say what? I have a fat thyroidal neck? She has a fat thyroidal neck? Her neck looked perfectly normal to me. I’d always thought mine was, too. Not, you know, swan-like; but not pathological. Super. Should’ve asked to retake the quiz.

Then she sent me off to the Pathlab where, in the middle of getting four vials of blood removed – lying down to prevent recurrance of past embarrassing incidents – I had to disguise a fit of hysterical pre-faint giggles so as not to scare the rather dour phlebotomist. When the draining was complete I felt a bit funny, and when the phlebotomist told me to get up I said “Am I pale? Usually if I’m pale it’s a bad sign.” She said “You’re fine” and shuffled out, whereupon I got up and caught sight of myself in the mirror. Pale, no. Green, yes. Apparently I should either pitch a TV series called The Strangely Literal Phlebomist or rethink my stance on foundation.

The good news is, my bowels are fine. The doctor and I are now both quite clear on this, as she asked me four times. This worries me a little. Is fatigue a typical symptom of colon cancer? Does recalcitrant fecal matter tend to back up into the throat, creating a full, thyroidal effect? Results on Monday.

  1. Stephanie (foggyknitter)

    You have my deepest sympathies, I end up with a lot of similar appointments, just lucky my GP is a bit less, um, direct? Doesn’t sound like the greatest practice though…

    Hope they find something fixable.

  2. trish

    Gosh what fun. It’s taken me ages to find a doctor who actually listens and takes me seriously. Slightly worried about what happens when I’m no longer a student. There seems to be an overwhelming proportion of meh ones to good ones.

    Hope the tests yield some answers for you.

  3. Kirsty

    I love your writing! It brightens my day.

    This post did strike a chord of human sympathy within me. Smears are distastefully tricky things, particularly etiquette-wise. I have learned from bitter experience that it is important to know which pose one is expected to strike for The Procedure. Otherwise one may, like me, in a moment of mental abstraction induced by A Quizzical Look, make A Very Silly Comment that could in turn lead to an Uncomfortable Silence. Uncomfortable Silences are always awkward, but when I am caught knickerless in a little known yoga position before a complete stranger wielding what looks for all the world like a miniature bottle-brush, I find them particularly difficult. Apologies for the mental image. All the best for Monday.

  4. smokering

    Well, my results are back. Not glandular fever, not anaemia, not low B12, not whatever else they tested for (I can’t remember all of ’em, but for four vials, it better have been comprehensive).

    In other words, as the good doctor predicted, there is nothing wrong with me – or at least, I am afflicted with zebras, not horses. Her theory is that the fatigue is just a side effect of the depression, and should resolve once I amp up my dosage to elephant-tranquillizing levels. (Elephant-rejuvenating levels, I suppose it should be.) We will see. In the mean time, I have come down with a hideous flu, probably from the waiting room. Mph.

  5. trish

    Hope you feel better soon. Been there. Hope you are being looked after. You could have our three tins of Emergency Soup that we stockpiled after we got sick if you liked.

  6. Smokering

    You have my deepest retrospective sympathies. This is a most unpleasant disease. We’re OK for soup, though – I made Helpdesk Man make some.

    I am seriously tired of being sick, though. I’ve read a biography of Margaret Mitchell and a biography of JK Rowling, both of which made me feel sadly underfamous; two books about the history of cooking and one by a restaurant reviewer, all of which made me feel rather bilious and heartburny, even though I wasn’t eating much; and snippets of ‘The True History of Chocolate’, which is surprisingly dull. Now all I have left is ‘Parenting with Love and Logic’, which seems a little grim for convalescence, and ‘Flesh in the Age of Reason’, which I suspect might require actual brainpower. Oh wait, never mind – my sister lent me Chloe Marr. I shall return to bed.

  7. Krissy

    I have a hard time getting doctors to do what I want. I’m glad you seem to be mostly healthy. I don’t believe that depression is the excuse for all sleepiness.

    How do your kids sleep?

  8. Smokering

    Yeah, I dunno. It does seem pretty extreme for depression. But then, my dad was diagnosed with depression years ago without any mood change, purely on the basis of tiredness. (Then again, it turned out later he had sleep apnea, so maybe that’s a red herring.)

    The doctor said *I* couldn’t have sleep apnea because I’m not overweight, but then, neither was Dad, so I felt that was a tad dismissive. Ehh. We’ll see. I’ve doubled my dosage for the past few days, and I’m starting to feel better, but that could be solely because I’m recuperating from the flu! If I don’t improve I’ll go back and demand to be poked and prodded some more. I don’t want to be yawning my way through Disneyland. :p

  9. Smokering

    Oh, and the kids sleep fine – you know, for kids. 🙂