This week’s column

Orange County Reg­is­ter — North County News; Date: Sept. 6, 2018; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: A4

Even if I’ve retired, my body needs to keep working

As we grow older, it’s a shame that our bod­ies don’t work as well as they did in our younger days. I sailed through most of my young adult­hood with­out ever see­ing a doc­tor. Of course, that could have been because I was poor and unin­sured, but at least I was lucky enough to have good health.

Now I’m happy to have insur­ance, because there are parts of my body that would like to retire. I just wish I was a lit­tle younger to take bet­ter care of them. It’s annoy­ing to have to plan all my trips around whether I’ll need refills of my med­ica­tion, and I don’t always remem­ber to sched­ule my yearly checkups.

Recently, I went to the drug­store for my hor­mone pills. They informed me that I was out of refills, and that my doc­tor was refus­ing to give me more. This seemed like a mis­take. My doc­tor was clear at my last exam, that he wanted me to stay on this par­tic­u­lar medication.

My fam­ily, and most of polite soci­ety would like me to stay on it, too.

I called the doc­tor and spoke to one of the nurses. As it turns out, I was due for my yearly checkup, but I had either missed the reminder card, or hadn’t received one—I won’t assign blame here. After I promised to make an appoint­ment, she grudg­ingly allowed me one more refill.

When I arrived at my exam, I received more bad news. It seems I had for­got­ten to get a mam­mo­gram last year. I had good inten­tions, but I’m eas­ily dis­tracted and per­pet­u­ally over­whelmed. Some­times it’s hard to pick up the phone and fit some­thing else into my schedule.

The doc­tor informed me he was hold­ing my hor­mone pre­scrip­tion hostage. I could have a 3-month sup­ply, after which he’d cut me off if I didn’t pro­duce the results of a mammogram—and yes, it had to be mine. I tried to argue that this was breast extor­tion, but he wouldn’t lis­ten. He just kept talk­ing about my health until I surrendered.

As soon as I returned home, I called the Women’s Breast Cen­ter and made the appoint­ment. The woman on the phone wanted to know if I had orders from a doc­tor for a mam­mo­gram. I told her my doctor’s name.

I don’t see any order for you here,” she said.

They faxed it over, maybe 15 min­utes ago,” I told her.

She paused. “Some­times it takes a while to get to us.”

We spoke for sev­eral min­utes longer, until I con­vinced her to make the appoint­ment, and I would pro­vide a copy of the doctor’s orders when I came. I hung up with the same ques­tion as when I go for my mam­mo­gram and they put a hos­pi­tal bracelet on me with my name, birth­date, etc.

Do they get a lot of ran­dom women try­ing to get mam­mo­grams, of their own free will?

I’m try­ing to pic­ture the woman who wakes up in the morn­ing and says, “Gee, I feel like get­ting my entire chest pulled into a machine and flat­tened between glass plates. I don’t need a doc­tor for that, do I?”

I’ll be get­ting my mam­mo­gram in two weeks, which will be well within my doctor’s dead­line. My body may not work as well as it did, but at least my doc­tors are keep­ing it from retir­ing completely.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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