Thursday, September 12, 2013

Team S.J.G.R. Thursday Huddle #11: Your Primary Care.

What's up, team? Sorry to be getting this up so late. Back-to-school night and a full work day trumped blogging earlier. But better late than never, right?


So check it. Today I did one of my least favorite things on the planet. I went to see my primary care doctor.

Terrible, right?

First, let me be clear: My PCP is amazing. She's smart and thoughtful and empathic and decisive. She remembers things that I tell her and floats effortlessly between my care and things like how my kids are doing in school and how things are going at work. Her eyes were so caring when asking questions about how I've been coping with Deanna's transition that, despite my best efforts, I did that thing that I'm usually on the other side of. Yeah, man. I broke down and cried for a few moments. And she was awesome, man. She listened -- like FOR REAL listened -- and never once made me feel like all of it was some part of a giant psychoanalysis but instead just one human being caring about another one. She even makes things as unpalatable as lady-part examinations not so daunting since her bedside manner is so tremendous.

Yeah. My PCP is rad.

So. I'm sure you're all like, "Then why is seeing your primary care provider one of your least favorite things on the planet?"

Is it the blood letting? Is it the paperwork? Nope. It's not any of those things. It's actually something quite simple, really. Here's the confession: I simply hate being a patient.


I hate it. Everything about it. And yes I said "hate"-- a word that is a bad word in my house. And since my kids won't be (at least not right now) reading this, I need to use that word for emphasis. Hate.

Sidebar: I told the kids a few years back, "There's just no reason to say 'hate.'" And Isaiah replied, "But what are you supposed to say when you just really, really don't like something?" I quickly shot back, "Easy. You just say you really, really don't like it." And Zachary said, "But wouldn't it just be faster to just say you hate it?"

Uuuhhh, yeah.

Anty who. I hate being in the patient role. The exploration. The investigation. The suggestions and thoughts. Even when they make perfect sense like my doctor did today. Like her asking me about this stress fracture I had back in the winter and then wondering if that had anything to do with the low Vitamin D level that I may or may not have had in 2009. Sure, it's a good--no, a great thought--but still. I hate it all.

Here's the thing: I am so used to being the doctor that I would mostly prefer to have my lip glued to a car bumper and then be dragged over broken glass to slipping into a paper gown and dropping a sheet over my lap. And I use that metaphor to emphasize how much I don't like being on the other side of a primary care appointment.

For reals.

But that? That doesn't really matter. Because on November 15, 2012, shit just got real. The reality kicked me straight in my two front teeth and screamed in the loudest voice possible that "JUST BECAUSE YOU FEEL FINE DOESN'T MEAN YOU ARE FINE." Because you can be hanging out with family and friends at your kitchen table on one night and gone the next. This I know for sure. Something discoverable and potentially reversible could be brewing and needing to be assessed. Or even if it isn't reversible altogether, it could be something that's at least treatable. But none of that can happen if you don't GET UP OFFA THAT THANG and see your PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER.

Yes. Your PRIMARY. CARE. PROVIDER. Not the person who delivered your babies and who has agreed to write your birth control or replace your IUD and listen to your heart and do your Pap Smear while you're there. No.

Wait. I take that back. If you're super young and without any health problems then that's mostly okay. But if you're over 40 and you have anything running in your family or personally, you cannot BS when it comes to getting yourself under a doctor's care.

Even if you hate it.

Your overall health needs to be your primary care. See, me? I have always gone to doctors with a CLEAR agenda. That agenda being: "Hello, I'm pregnant and you need to do the things pregnant ladies need." Or "Hello. My ankle is 'flicted and you need to do the things 'flicted ankle people need." But PRIMARY CARE? Geeze. That's altogether different. It's like putting your car on that diagnostic machine, man. And saying, "Hello. I'm mostly okay outside of my crappy eating habits and muffin top. Now you get to look at me and find shit even if it scares me to death."

Pretty much.

But let me be CONCRETE. Primary Care Providers--are ALL about preventing heart disease. ALL about it. Like, for real? That's like 87% of everything we do. For real. Like, we bug you about salt intake and blood pressure readings. Why? Because it hurts your heart. We sweat you about exercise and body mass index. The big deal? Cardiovascular health, dude. Our diabetics get stalked about their high blood sugars and the smokers get nagged to death about lighting up. That's not rocket science either. Those things take you quickly from one ticket to five in the heart attack lottery.

So serious business? That should be your primary care. Why? Because heart disease is the thing most likely to take your life or disable you. More than ANYTHING else. And no, I am not trivializing very important things like cancer diagnoses--I'm not. Of course those with family histories and personal histories should be thinking about those things. But they should also be concerned about heart health. We ALL should.

So that's the deal. I tazed myself in the back until I got to my PCP to be seen. And I stuck out my arm and let that lady plunge that needle with the Vacutainer on the end of it deep into the crook of my arm. I let that same lady schedule my mammogram which perhaps is another thing I'd exchange for that same broken glass trudge--even if doused afterwards with rubbing alcohol.

Umm, yeah. Hate those cold metal plates smashing me, too. Yes, hate.

So yeah. I took my lumps today. And since things were cool, I don't need to take more for another year. You know what else? I got to tell my doctor all about you guys. About us all moving for 150 minutes or more per week and about me running two 10Ks since she saw me last. I also got to beam when she was examining me and told me that my resting heart rate was slower and that she could tell I was exercising. It felt good not to fudge the facts about how much how often.

"I run. About four times per week for 45 minutes or more."

Which is TRUE, man. TRUE. So yeah, that was good.

Okay. So here is your clarion call. Have you seen a doctor this year? Did you see one last year? Was that doctor a PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER? If not, you need to rectify that.

Real quick: Caveats include people who are under the care of, say, a Cardiologist or Endocrinologist who is serving as a primary (or rather principal) care provider. Or people with HIV seen by an Infectious Disease trained HIV PCP provider. Otherwise? You need to GET UP OFFA THAT THANG and see a PRIMARY DOCTOR.


Make it your primary care to see about your heart health. Let go of only seeing doctors for your minor agendas because you're afraid. Stop being defensive and listen. Set some goals and let your PCP hold your feet to the fire. But especially look into the eyes of the people who love and count on you and try to justify not taking care of yourself. You won't be able to.

I know. The cost can be oppressive without insurance. But as a person who works in a setting where over 90% of the patients lack insurance, I know for certain that there is a way to see about yourself and your heart health even if you aren't covered by private insurance.


Marching orders:

1. If you don't have a PCP, pick one. Even if you hate it, make up your mind to go.
2. Call by TUESDAY and make you an appointment for a PHYSICAL if you haven't had one.
3. Pick somebody you feel comfortable with.
4. Get the most out of the visit by being honest.
5. Set a goal to improve you're weight or some other parameter before your next visit.
6. Take all meds exactly as prescribed. Not "as needed."
7. Fight the urge to retreat to hypothetical la-la land.

That's all I got.

Happy Thursday, Team!

 Now playing. . . .the Team S.J.G.R. theme song. . . and JAMES BROWN singing it live. . . all while GETTING UP OFFA THAT THANG. OMG love this! Could watch it all day. Hell, I burned 200 calories just watching. . .LOL! (BTW....the funniest part about this is how LAME the audience is. They are TOTALLY just sitting there while JB is getting after it! Hilarious!)


  1. waaaa!!! I don't want to.....I have to tell this quick little mom is 84 and really healthy for her age. She sees her primary every year and a few other little tests in between. I usually take her and sometimes I think "Oh this is such a waste of time" because there is nothing ever wrong thank goodness. But one day I realized that if there ever was anything wrong she would have such a good base to start at with a good doctor that knows her.
    I'm concentrating on sodium intake this last week...that makes a big difference for me! xoxo

  2. Well, I go see my primary care provider every four months... But I'm not your typical patient. I actually like going to the doctor. I go to the dentist 3 times a year too. LOL.

  3. Did that last week. Got my flu shot too. Did the mammogram in July. I just have to say, please get the mammogram. Please, please get the mammogram. Don't put it off. The chemo that the most often use to treat breast cancer is a cardiotoxin. But if you find breast cancer when it is small and before it has spread to the lymphnodes many people can forgo chemo. Please get the mammogram, even if you are only 40 and no one in your family has ever had breast cancer. It really is important.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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