Monday, April 06, 2009

Iatrophobia

Today is Red Sox opening day at Fenway. Which is kind of a big deal for everyone here. But more importantly to me, I have a scheduled visit to the doctor for some reason I cannot really remember. More than likely I probably woke up feeling kind of hypochondriatic one morning and wanted to see if they were any closer to finding a cure.

The individual's rate of aging (and therefore deterioration of health) can be determined by the number of questions one asks within a standard sixteen minute physical. What once began as a simple "Oh and I've had this cough, doc, is it tuberculosis?" has snowballed into a list of experienced signs and symptoms I prepare that can only point to imminent death and disease. Though doctors' primary reason to exist (other than to diagnose, treat, and bill) is to answer your questions and concerns, you have to remember they are present to answer purely medical questions; they are not your therapist, Google, or a Magic 8 ball. (I.e. "I develop a stutter whenever someone mentions my ex-boyfriend's name. Do I have a central nervous system disorder?" or "I've been having dreams about Michael Keaton, but I've never even seen a Michael Keaton movie. What could this mean?")

I have to say that my mom was totally wrong about the whole "eating so much junk food is going to catch up with you one day" theory. While it's true that I've gained weight since I was thirteen, if all the Reese's peanut butter cups, Ho Ho's, and Milano cookies I managed to consume in those magical metabolism glory days suddenly just "caught up" to me one day, I think I'd be in much deeper trouble than I currently am.

That said, weight seems to be one of those things you can never get quite right at the doctor at any age. Somehow you've always grown too much or too little and are in danger of being in some sliver of the pie made up only by other freaks and those with growth disorders. (This may be a predominantly female experience. See: bathroom scales.) Remember how your pediatrician used to calculate exactly what percentage you fit into compared with the rest of your developing American peers? I can remember standing on the scales of judgment as an adolescent trying to think more like lead so that maybe I would cause the number on the scale to go up and I'd be in a more popular percentile with more of my (cooler) peers. Well, I try to think more like Fluff these days and they don't tell me what percentile I fit into but you can almost see them plotting you on some sort of Graph of Normalcy.

On the other hand, you don't get encouragement anymore either. The physician's never like, "You gained eight pounds since last year, good job! Keep eating your veggies and someday you'll be as big and strong as Michael Jordan!" Or, "Good work not being an American obesity statistic!" Now they just ask if you're a smoker. And there is no lollipop for cooperating.

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