As a very young boy I prided myself on being able to take a shot from the doctor without crying. I thought I was better than other kids who would cry and fuss over it. I recall thinking that I was a “big boy”because I could take it. Those people in white coats didn’t scare me.
As the years went on and I learned more about my body, I became more protective and private. When I saw the doctor in his brightly lit, picture-less office, I didn’t trust him with my deepest secrets. When I received my first physical, which included inspecting the normally covered areas of our bodies, I was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed. When I was ordered to Fort Wayne, Detroit for my Army physical I was even more uncomfortable because I had to become part of an assembly-line with a bunch of other guys. Whew, was I glad when that was over!
After the Army, I had to undergo another thorough exam by my employer’s doctor. In addition to being awkward, it was painful at the end. Then there was my overnight stay in a hospital to see if what I thought was a heart attack really was. It was not. It was just a panic attack which can have similar symptoms.
In the course of my life, I have come to realize probing medical exams are unavoidable. I learned that getting looked at by medical professionals was the best way of coping with the changes of aging. I discovered that the uncomfortable preparation for a colonoscopy was the price I had to pay to make sure the plumbing downstairs was in good working order. I found out that complex eye exams were necessary because problems in the eyes can develop. Getting these exams helped me understand and accept my health changes rather than allowing my mind to imagine morbid possibilities.
Since turning sixty, I have relaxed before and during medical exams of all kinds often joking with the individuals or even getting to know them better. For one diagnostic test, I learned the technician had graduated from the same college I did. We had a nice talk while the paper work was being finished. Since reaching my older years, I have learned that I don’t have to give into my fears, that it is always better to know what is going on instead of pretending the problem isn’t there. Years ago, I had a tumor on the inside of my right ankle. I ignored it for months and finally submitted to an MRI and a biopsy which revealed it was simply an unusual but harmless tumor.
For anyone suddenly facing tests in sterile rooms with giant machines making strange noises and flashing digital lights, it might help to switch your focus from the machine to the person in the room with you. A friendly word or joke can clear the room of all fears and worries in seconds flat.
“Hey doc, did you hear about a woman who becomes frustrated after a bus driver calls her baby ugly. She angrily carries her baby to a seat and informs a nearby male passenger that the driver has insulted her. The man, encouraging the woman to go back and reprimand the driver says, “I’ll hold your monkey while you go.”