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Playing Doctor

by Stephen Lautens


June 14, 2002

Like most men, I have a reluctance to see doctors. Twice a year I go to my dentist, and I get to my accountant at least once, but wild horses can't get me to the doctor's office.

For some reason we men would rather cut off our own arm in the bathroom with the nail clippers than see a professional to get a couple of stitches. We feel there are few medical problems that can't be sliced off at home with a razor or pulled out with pliers.

In fact, men won't go to the doctor's if our problem is too big because we're afraid of what we'll find out, or if it's too small we'll be accused of wasting the doctor's time.

My experience is that most doctors are only really good at the really big or really small problems anyway. Everything in between is still a bit of a mystery to them. The solution for men seems to be to wait until it becomes a big problem so they can do something about it, or wait it goes away on its own.

The few doctors I've seen over the years have all pretty much decided that in spite of the fact I'm one of the lightest users of our overburdened healthcare system, I'm a bit of a suck. The reason they think I'm such a wimp is that like most men I wait far too long before I see a doctor. So when I finally see a health care professional, whatever was wrong has already pretty much gone away on its own.

For example, I've developed a charming hacking cough lately. It's one of those real smokers' first-thing-in-the-morning coughs - except I don't smoke. I've never worked in a coal mine either, so black lung is out too. But I bark like a seal most of the night and wheeze like a Senator during the day.

I finally decided that two months of snorting and sputtering was enough for anyone to put up with - especially my wife. Of course on the day I finally saw the doctor I could barely muster a polite cough that wouldn't disturb a church service. That's when I got the "you know, we have patients with real problems" look from the doctor.

Of course that was two months ago and I'm still honking like an asthmatic Canada goose.

All of this has made me schedule my first physical in over twenty years. Having recently become a father, I've also now decided I'd like to live forever and I should start by having someone other than Revenue Canada give me the once over.

For the past 42 years I have lived quite happily not knowing what my cholesterol is. I only found out my blood type last year when I had my wisdom teeth taken out. I remember the nurse coming at me for a blood sample with a needle the size of a eavestrough. I immediately decided it called for drastic action. I looked at her and said: "You know, if that hurts me, I'm going to scream like a six year old girl and then pass out."

It was a lie, but she was sure gentle with me. I even got a juice for being such a good boy.

Aside from that, I have no idea where I got this reputation among the medical community for being a bit of a suck.

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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