Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News
I haven’t been an adult for very long so I don’t have a ton of experience on the matter, but I do have a theory about adulthood.
It doesn’t exist.
No, there’s no such thing as an adult. When you were a kid, everyone you thought of as a grownup was actually just a slightly taller person flailing around and making stuff up as they went, hoping no one would notice. This theory terrifies and comforts me at exactly the same time.
Now I’m one of those people, so to help me make stuff up, I’ve been referring to an Ideal Adult who exists only inside my head. She makes good, grownup choices so I try to follow her lead. What would the Ideal Adult in your head do? is something I ask myself a lot.
The Ideal Adult eats fruits and vegetables without making faces. The Ideal Adult is not afraid of the grocery store. The Ideal Adult does not laugh in disbelief every time someone accepts her credit card in exchange for actual things like food and shelter.
Most of the time I do pretty well at mimicking the Ideal Adult, although sometimes my serving of fruit comes in a juice box and paying bills still seems like an elaborate game of make-believe that has gone too far. But there’s one thing the Ideal Adult would do that I am having a really hard time with. The Ideal Adult sees her doctor regularly. Stephanie, on the other hand, has the WebMD app on her phone and thinks that’s probably good enough.
Reasons to See a Doctor Regularly
- For preemptive screenings
- To establish a baseline for your health
- To keep up with your vaccinations
- So you can fill in that blank on emergency contact forms with someone besides your mom
- So that when you finally cave and go see a doctor, you can avoid admitting that you haven’t been inside an exam room in, oh, eight years
- To expand your social circle. Mingle in the waiting room! Make friends with your nurses!
I recognize that those are good reasons to go. My adult brain understands this and 100% agrees that it is wise to go see a doctor sometimes. I just really, really, really, really, really really don’t want to.
Reasons I Don’t Want to Go to the Doctor
- It seems like a pain, what with the calling to make an appointment, and the forms, and the leaving the house.
- I don’t have a firm grasp on what my health insurance plan actually covers. It’s always a surprise!
- What if something actually is wrong with me and I didn’t know it?
- What if nothing is wrong with me, I just happen to have a weird-shaped skull, and someone points it out, and then I’m self-conscious about it for the rest of my life? Not that that’s happened to me.
- I’m 97% convinced that medicine is a real science.*
- I’m ashamed of my body. Not its shape, or even the occasionally horrifying things it does. I’m ashamed of just having a body.
- There has to be a reason home remedies exist. Swiping a mixture of honey and chili powder across my eyelids seems like it should do something, right?
- I feel ok, and I feel even better on the days when no one sticks a cold stethoscope down my shirt or a tongue depressor in my mouth.
*SUBLIST: WHY 3% OF ME THINKS DOCTORS MIGHT BE VERY GOOD CON ARTISTS
- I once went to the emergency room because my throat was swelling up in an exciting way that made breathing tricky. The doctor said, “I actually don’t know what’s wrong with you” before handing me an impossibly high bill and sending me on my way. This was especially baffling to me because both of my parents are veterinarians and they somehow manage to correctly diagnose and treat patients of multiple species who cannot talk or even point to where it hurts.
- One time I got a flu shot AND IT WAS A LIE.
Those are some pretty compelling reasons. So compelling that, were it not for the crushing guilt that I constantly feel over everything, I can absolutely see myself dying of a treatable disease at age 30 and telling everyone that it’s just my time.
But I started feeling so guilty about disappointing the Ideal Adult that I made an appointment and went to the doctor on Monday. I agonized over the visit for days. I gave myself a pep talk in the parking lot. “No one is having a worse day than I am,” I said to myself as I stomped into the office.
And when it was all over I was even more annoyed. “That only took 20 minutes?!” I thought. “The least they could have done was kept me in there for a half-hour.”
Hey wow the next trailer for Life and Steph is out! And it turns out I’m both a stress-eater and a stress-winker!
This was such a thought provoking post on several levels. Firstly the whole ‘adulthood – does it exist ‘ thing. Well, it’s certainly true that in one’s head one always remains about 17 and three-quarters…however, like it or not one does lurch into adulthood eventually. How do I know this? I am now 65, a fact that both surprises and horrifies me, and I have noticed that there are now many situations where once I would have been anxious or ignorant – not knowing what to do, or how to do it, or should I do it at all; and yet this past few years I don’t feel any of those things, I just get on with it as best I can.
There are also moments when I observe my (technically) adult kids and their friends, and other young people doing things and behaving in certain ways just as I would have done at their age – and now this little voice in my head goes ‘tsk, tsk, this is going to end badly’ or ‘there will be tears before bedtime for sure’. Obviously I keep this little voice to myself, no one wants my opinion.
As to the going to the Doctor thing. In the UK where we have the NHS (National Health Service) so our medical services are free, we are bombarded from babyhood to attend the GP’s surgery for all innoculations, etc etc. Thank goodness. Years ago my darling daughter hit the ripe old age of 24 at which time she was urged to attend for a routine cervical smear test. She nearly didn’t bother – because as she said ‘people my age don’t get cervical cancer, I’m fit as a flea, and I was very busy at the time’. But she did go, and they had to call her back as something was amiss, and then she had to have some surgery, but it was all caught very very early and she is now fine. So do take the time to go to the doctor, its not adulthood, its common sense, half an hour now may save years of illness.
I just feel really sorry that you live in one of the few remaining so called civilised countries where you have to make judgement about if you can afford treatment. I along with millions like me accept that the health of a peoples is a joint responsibility and no one, rich or poor, should be deneyed the correct treatment for an illness paid for by the society we are privilaged to live in. Please excuse spelling errors, the pad is tiny:)
Oh gosh. You’re so brave. I should probably make an appointment sometime soon too :/
This was a lot easier when my mom would just schedule it and drag me there. You don’t even get the perk of missing school when you’re an adult!
Half hour – no, no. no… 20 minutes is best – then they can ad commercial time to fill it out for the show that is your life! Great writing! Keep it up!
Oh my goodness this post and the previous ones made me laugh. I too have my own version of the Ideal Adult but mine is The Grownup. Today I went to the bank, put gas in my car, put laundry away, paid my credit card bill, got the mail, uploaded documents for my health insurance, and returned library books. And when I got home, I was so proud of Being Grownup that I immediately had to text my First Mate to tell him about how I had survived the trip outside and accomplished grownup things like you know all grownups do. I laugh at myself because doing the things I am supposed to do shouldn’t mean I get an award. But secretly in my head . . . I deserve one! So I am going to have chocolate chip cookies for lunch. Because I am a grownup.
I go to the doctor so regularly we’re on a first-name basis, because I get ill, like, ALL OF THE TIME. I was at the hospital just this evening. They gave me cake. (When a dietitian is giving you cake, you know something’s up — in this case, coeliac disease is what’s up.) That said, my local surgery has the option to make appointments online and this is pretty much the only reason I am able to go without having to get my mum to ring them. Also, I live in the UK, so the NHS is a thing. Otherwise I would be totally bankrupt by now.
I think your Ideal Adult is *really* the one skittering away from doctors. It took me too many decades to figure that out.
Don’t blow my cover. I’ve only been pretending to be an afult for yesrs. I think a few people could be on to me.
I too am in that “hmmm…I should probably start having a regular doctor who I go to for check ups and whatnot but I don’t wanna” status. Since I haven’t had one since maybe middle school or very early high school, I am also right there with you in trying to convince the other half of me why finally going to see one is truly needed.
And your trailer for Life and Steph made me giggle out loud because it was so awesomely genuine and probably exactly how I’d be if someone put a camera in my face and yelled “action!” Loved it and looking forward to it!
I have a similar theory on the concept of adulthood :P
My music collection keeps me young!