I’d put you all on my HIPAA form, but you’ll soon see that won’t be necessary.
I’m the best patient in the world. (Dear sarcasm, thanks for being my friend. Love, Stephanie) Here’s why. When I go to the doctor and update my medical history, it is never complete, or even quite true, though I always think I’m giving it to her as accurately as possible. And even better (I mean worse), it’s so significantly altered from the previous versions, I’m sure the people in the office are scratching their heads while checking patient records and finally deciding to add pictures to their patient files to make sure they have the correct Stephanie the next time I come in.
Here’s how a typical medical history rundown goes for me.
Doctor: What medications are you using?
I list my migraine medications which change periodically because some stop working. I usually get one wrong. The doctor will stop me here for clarification. She will ask if I’m getting this rogue medication I’ve listed from another doctor. When I say no, she’ll decide that I’m just barely awake and silently unknot the mess of confusion I’ve created by the list I’ve given her.
Doctor: Have you had any operations?
Me: Um, I don’t really think so. Wait, what qualifies as an operation?
Doctor: Well, we have you listed here as having two c-sections. Those definitely qualify as operations. You know with the cutting and all, you stupid idiot. (OK, the doctor didn’t say that last sentence, but you know she was thinking it. I certainly was. And I added “you stupid idiot” to the end for her.)
Me: So, yeah, sure. Sounds like I’ve had some operations. You should probably keep that as is. I’ll try to think back if I’ve had others. Do wisdom teeth count?
The doctor at this point will begin to understand that she’s dealing with an utter fool and will be forced to conclude that a different interrogation technique is necessary. Anesthesia will be defined, (I’ll get huffy and say, “OF COURSE I KNOW WHAT ANESTHESIA IS!”) and we’ll get through that section of the history.
Then, it’s time to start talking about family history. This is definitely when my doctor should take a Xanax or Valium or something. (Are they the same thing? I can’t be bothered with Google at the moment as I’m busy typing this ridiculous mess.) I try to remember who in my family has had what, but it’s impossible. The doctor tries to have me at least define if something is on the maternal or paternal side, and I always give it a go. The sad part is that I start out sounding so confident in my answers, which is why the Xanax or Valium would be such sweet relief for the doctor when she finally realizes that she’s just writing down fiction by the time we are done.
Doctor: ……blah, blah, blah, heart disease, blah, blah, stroke, blah, blah, high blood pressure…..
Doctor: ……blah, blah, blah, cancer, blah, blah, blah,
(Yep, that’s what I’m hearing at this point. A lot of blah, blah, blah with a random disease registering now and then. I’m a lot like Ginger, the dog in Gary Larson’s cartoon, just waiting for my name to crop up which is when I’ll start the storytelling.)
- Like I said, I don’t start out as Ginger, the dog. I give confident answers at the beginning of the family history part. And then I start to progressively put lots of ums and ahs in the spaces between her questions and my answers. At the end, I’m awkwardly making jokes because that’s what I do when I’m nervous, and I make lame but entirely earnest promises to do better next time.
My doctor doesn’t deserve to deal with my special brand of eccentricity, but I sure do appreciate that she does.