Diagnosis Midlife Crisis

This occurred 10-04-2012

The physicians mentioned below have no affiliation with my place of employment. If they did, I couldn’t blog about my visit. For this privilege, my copay’s $25. Their names have been substituted with members of The Monkees for obvious reasons.

Tediously stuffing my work desk with toilet paper causes me not to revolt when the husband makes me a doctor’s appointment. After 4 weeks, I’ve (he’s) decided that this disease-induced violence must stop. In the past seven days, three rolls of toilet paper have been water boarded by my nose. The pep talks on my Halls wrappers (once used as cheap therapy) mock me. It’s snot funny anymore.

A receptionist responds to my vacant stare. “Which doctor are you here to see?”

My usual response: “I don’t know.”

The husband was told to make an appointment with anyone but Dr. Dolenz. He wears shorts under his knee length doctor’s coat and frequently brings in his dog. This may have zero correlation with his ability to treat patients, but I prefer that anyone holding cold metal against my back and asking me to breath not look like a stereotypical pervert…or at least be 100% flealess. The husband couldn’t recall which physician I was to meet with and thought it may be the Indian one. To avoid confusion, I don’t convey this information to the lady in front of me. Instead I add, “What docs are on today?”

This non-smiling face informs me, “We have five.”

“Oh.” Attempting to help, “I have a 9:30 appointment.”

After she scans five pages of  paper, I’m relieved to find out that I’m here to see the serious one. Dr. Nesmith.

By accident, I sign in with office’s pen instead of my own. My pen hasn’t been handled by myriads of sick people. Working in health care has not inoculated me against germ paranoia. At work, I’m in a fluid-resistant lab coat and gloves. Here=I’m exposed. At work=my time is spent in procedural areas, NEVER in a waiting rooms. (Waiting room chairs aren’t covered in paper and changed after each patient.) OSHA should require that all patients-in-waiting wear surgical masks, stand in a pre-selected area, and not touch anything.

While seating myself at the periphery of pestilence, I scan my surroundings. No one appears to have tuberculosis, but two have oxygen tanks. Two additional people are in wheel chairs. My bank account may be the only one not collecting social security and a guy just walked in possibly carrying his pee (clear bag, clear container, yellow liquid).

The standard deviation of the ages between me and the others is will soon be 0. I already dress like that white haired lady in the corner. Like her, I’m wearing an old cardigan…and  pants…and socks and sneakers. I bet she even has on underwear. 

I hold my breath for as long as possible until my name is called.

In the exam room, a girlish nurse confirms my age by asking, “How many years young are you?” A question for a 97 year old.

“I’m 39…I’ll be (swallow) forty in January.” Forty. FORTY! 10 x 4!! Death – 30!! F-O-R-T-Y! I’ll need two boxes of candles. When my mother was forty, she was old.

She comforts me by asking when my last period was. At least, I don’t look postmenopausal…or maybe this whippersnapper’s flattering me. I inform her that my ovary (the one still intact) still functions and occasionally my ureteral lining responds to its signals. Then, I tell her about why I’m here and how my nostrils haven’t smelled since Labor Day. My body on the other hand…

I relish my surrounding while waiting for the doctor. I love medical charts and biological models. I ponder covering my son’s bedroom walls with these. He’s 4. I better start now if I want him to become a surgeon, not a race car driver. At that age, my daughter (now 12) loved her periodic table so much that punishment often included taking it away. In preschool, Santa brought her The Human Body Game. We named the game’s model Ralph. She brought in his liver for L-day in Kindergarten and brought this organ back in for O-day. She even laughed at a classmate for calling the green spot on its bottom an eye when it’s clearly the gallbladder. I thought her interest was promising until years later she began wearing black, watching Criminal Minds, and asking for mannequins for her bedroom.

The doc comes in, agrees that my ailment is probably viral, but gives me antibiotics on account of my phlegm being green. He doesn’t warn me of osteoporosis or ask if I’m supplementing my calcium (which I am). He doesn’t request a mammogram or a colonoscopy, so maybe in three years, I’ll come back. He does asks if my Mitral Valve Prolapse is symptomatic. That’s right. I’ve almost forgotten. I have a murmur. I say no which is a blatant lie because I figure the truth doesn’t matter. Symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, palpitations: the usual side effects of parenthood. All mothers and fathers have these.

The rest of the day, my mind can’t stop thinking about those biological models. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved them. In the 7th grade, I made a wax model of the heart and made an illustration showing my friend Kathy’s brain. I’ve always been obsessed with art and science. Not only am I a nerd, I’m a geek. Before deciding to look at cells (which are beautiful) all day and giving people cancer for a living, I seriously considered medical illustration as a career. Now, I’m sure I’ve made the wrong decision. I spend my days in philosophical confusion. Positive is bad. Negative is good. You can only give out cancer a certain amount of times before it looses all fun.

What would my life be like if I travelled in that direction?

I reacquaint myself with the program at John Hopkins.

The Master’s Degree is a two year process, but would take me three. I would have to spend an entire year grabbing most of the art prerequisites. Then, I could be taking such classes as Opthamalogical Illustration and Operating Room Sketching. It would require a move. And $88,000 yearly tuition.

After restarting my heart and scrapping my dreams off the floor, my soul silently weeps.

I guess I’ll have to find something else to do, so I revisit my aspirations of the past.

What I wanted to be when I grew up:

  • ventriloquist
  • Solid Gold dancer
  • mime in NYC
  • body builder
  • Nick Rhode’s wife
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • sculptor of marble and limestone
  • cancer curer
  • writer


5 thoughts on “Diagnosis Midlife Crisis

  1. I knew a little girl whose mom was in the medical field and the terms that came out of her mouth were hysterical (I can’t remember them to share because I’m not that smart 😉 ).

    That’s a hefty price on the tuition.

    Thanks for the tip on bringing your own pen to the Dr. (duh, I never thought of that one).

    I hope the antibiotics help.


  2. Oh how funny! I agree, all parents must have heart murmurs. Funny, when I go in, when they find out I have health insurance (a rarity in this country) they immediately ask me what drugs I need, what tests I want or which ones I will submit to, and whatever else they can milk the insurance for…. Get better soon and take your probiotics!


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