Doctors: Love or Loathe Them?

The past week and a half has just shown me why some people hate doctors. Or why other people make it a practice to visit them as little as possible.
For well over two years, I’ve had chronic back discomfort, the combined result of a minor back injury I suffered about a decade ago lifting a box the wrong way, and an even worse injury suffered at the end of a softball game. Things haven’t been the same for a long time.

I’ve gone to a sports clinic, had chiropractic care, tried an herbalist’s dietary supplements (at my dad’s insistence) and am currently going to physiotherapy (almost for a year as of March). I’ve had two sets of X-rays, which haven’t shown anything unusual.

Last September at my annual physical, I mentioned to my doctor that I was still having the discomfort. She replied she found it strange that it was still going on for this long, and added she’d look at my file and see if I was eligible for an MRI. I filled out the questionnaire on the requisition form that would be faxed to the nearest MRI clinic, and signed it. The receptionist gave me a number for the hospital clinic and that was that.

In October or November, after not hearing anything, I called the doctor’s office to inquire. The receptionist said she’d put a reminder on my chart and would make sure the doctor would look at it.

Fast-forward to the week of February 12. I’m suffering from a stiffness in my lower back and discomfort I haven’t had in months. It’s prompted me to think: hey – what about that MRI request from September? I haven’t heard a peep.

I made a special trip down to the office that Friday afternoon to inquire in person. The receptionist pulled my chart, and opened it to show me that, in the five months since my physical, the MRI requisition form was STILL sitting in my file.

In another dimension, my doctor could have faxed off the form, prompting the hospital to send me the forms to fill out; I could have sent back the complete forms; gotten an appointment; gotten the MRI done; and probably have gotten the results in the same amount of time.
I’m shopping around for a new doctor. I have one prospect, who I’m supposed to be seeing this coming Friday.

Meanwhile, I phoned twice this past Thursday to find out what happened to my requisition form. The clinic (FINALLY) called me back Friday, just to tell me the form was faxed off. My doctor – who I’ve NEVER gotten a personal phone message from the entire time I’ve been her patient – left a message on my cell phone to tell me she faxed the form off last Tuesday; and would like to make an appointment to see me to see how my physio is going (um, pretty good up until, like, two weeks ago) and to discuss other options (for treating my back, I’m assume).

While I should be glad she’s FINALLY taking a concern, and should understand she probably has a couple hundred patients, I’m annoyed that I have to poke and prod her for medical care.

I’m not a hypochondriac. Outside of my annual physical, my visits are minimal. If there’s something which has the potential to greatly affect my ability to function day to day, shouldn’t I explore all avenues of investigating and pinpointing what the problem is, and solving it as soon as is needed?

And the worst part is, there are people out there who are suffering from pain and discomfort worse than mine, who are doing the same thing, day after day, week after week.

Just a thought.

Servant of Time

It’s amazing how, as some of us get older, we – knowingly or unknowingly – fall subservient to the tick-tick-tick of the 24-hour clock.

I’ve realized this even more so lately, given the recent change in my schedule because of work, appointments, etc., how dependent I am on having to be at a certain place, doing a certain things by a certain time.

Take today, for example. I barely caught the bus near my house, which usually begins the long trek I make to work each day (albeit at different times). The bus doors, which just closed, opened for me, and breathlessly, I made a point of saying thanks to the bus driver, to convey my gratitude for letting me on, and not driving off as some tend to do.

The bus driver instead replied with an unnecessarily snarky, “Time to get a watch.” As much as I wanted to say something in response, I let it go and proceeded to find my seat.

My morning routine, which is a complete blur in my mind, consists of working out at the gym with my trainer, followed by showering, dressing, putting my big clunky boots and huge winter jacket, lumbering to work, unloading my things, inhaling breakfast in the nearby food court, and plunking my body at my desk in time for the start of my shift at work.

From then on, I spend the next eight and a half hours working with – or, as I see it, constantly fighting against – time.

For a huge chunk of my day, I wear a stopwatch around my neck. To time how long things are. Where things stop and where they start. I’m constantly watching the wall clocks to gauge how much time I have, or have left, to complete tasks.

All this leads up to our show, which airs in the evening. The last hour and a half to show time always feels like a quarter of its worth, and yet it never feels like it’s enough.

The show itself is 26 minutes long, with a four-minute commercial break. But the first 15 minutes of that show feel like three.

And before I know it, it’s all over. But time doesn’t seem to slow down until about 20 minutes after that. When it finally does, it’s time to make the trek home again … which takes about 90 minutes. And then when I get home, instead of getting right to the tasks I have to do before I go to bed, I dawdle – much like I’m doing right now – and I end up hitting the pillow way later than I should.

Just thinking about what my day is like should depress me, a lot. But it only gets me down a little, because at the moment, I have no choice. I think my commute has a lot to do with it, because I often wonder what life would be like if I had a little more time.

But perhaps time is, in a way, like money – that no matter how much I have, it will never be enough.

Modified Speech: Kinda Catchy, No?

connect-a-neck: A term to describe a person’s slight weight gain, which is visibly apparent in their facial profile, most notably where the neck connects with the chin; not yet approaching double-chin status. (Source: MTV Canada)

I heard this term one weekend afternoon watching some MTV Canada (because that’s the kind of exciting life I lead, when not stalking people on IMdB.com). It was part of the “after-party” following the first episode of the new season of the of the reality series, “The Hills”. The two VJs were dissecting the breakup of the main character and her boyfriend at the end of the summer.

In the midst of their analysis, the male VJ points out that the now ex-boyfriend had a little something he referred to as “connect-a-neck” – suggesting he’d gone a little soft and lost whatever strong male jawline he may have had, possibly because of no exercise and one too many beers. Then, to illustrate the point to his fellow female VJ, suggested that he had a bit of the same “condition” going on, turning in profile to the camera and tracing the region with his top of his ballpoint pen.

It’s stuck in my head ever since. Don’t ask me why – I just like the way it sounds. Like the verbal equivalent of a small pair of castinets.

vajayjay haze: What happens in some women, when sexual urges are so strong it impairs the ability to properly focus or concentrate on any tasks whatsoever, until said sexual urges are sated. (Source: Loquacious D … partially)

Walking home with two friends from a party, one of my friends was talking about the booty call she was going to have later on that night. In recalling her week, had mentioned that it had been a while since her last booty call, so it was making it hard to concentrate on the work she had been trying to do that way. The only way she’d be able to concentrate, she said, was if she took care of business.

“Ah,” I said. “That there is what I call the vajayjay haze.”

I can only take credit for the “haze” part. Thanks and apologies are due to Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rimes for coming up the first part. If not for the skittish American networks, who squirm at hearing the word which kinda sounds like “angina” more than once during a medical drama, I could not have found a venue to use such a great made-up word in a sentence.

I do believe my work is done for another week.

The Case For Napping, Exhibit B

Thought I was plain delusional when I posted this a couple of weeks ago?

Keep reading. Imma let this article speak for itself:

CHICAGO – New research on napping provides the perfect excuse for office slackers, finding that a little midday snooze seems to reduce risks for fatal heart problems, especially among men.

In the largest study to date on the health effects of napping, researchers tracked 23,681 healthy Greek adults for an average of about six years. Those who napped at least three times weekly for about half an hour had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart attacks or other heart problems than those who did not nap.

Most participants were in their 50s, and the strongest evidence was in working men, according to the study, which appears in Monday’s issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The researchers said naps might benefit the heart by reducing stress, and jobs are a common source of stress.

It’s likely that women reap similar benefits from napping, but not enough of them died during the study to be sure, said Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the study’s senior author and a researcher at Harvard University and the University of Athens Medical School.

Heart problems killed 48 women who were studied, six of them working women, compared with 85 men, including 28 working men.A daytime siesta has long been part of many cultures, especially those in warmer climates.

Mediterranean-style eating habits featuring fruits, vegetables, beans and olive oil have been credited with contributing to relatively low rates of heart disease in those countries, but the researchers wanted to see if napping also plays a role.

“My advice is if you can (nap), do it. If you have a sofa in your office, if you can relax, do it,” Trichopoulos said.

Exactly how stress is related to heart disease is uncertain. Some researchers think it might be directly involved, through unhealthy effects of stress hormones, or indirectly by causing people to exercise less, overeat or smoke.

The researchers in the latest study factored in diet, exercise, smoking and other habits that affect the heart but still found napping seemed to help.

Previous studies have had conflicting results. Some suggested napping might increase risk of death, but those mostly involved elderly people whose daytime sleepiness reflected poor health, Trichopoulos said.

His research team studied a broader range of people, ages 20 to 86, who were generally healthy when the study began.

Still, it’s possible that study participants who napped “are just people who take better care of themselves,” which could also benefit the heart, said Dr. Marvin Wooten, a sleep specialist at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

“The guy … who doesn’t take time out for a siesta in their culture is probably the guy who is extremely driven and under a lot of pressure,” which could increase heart risks, he said.

Siestas aren’t ingrained in U.S. culture, and napping usually is equated with laziness in the high-charging corporate world, said Bill Anthony, a Boston University psychologist and co-author of “The Art of Napping at Work.”

Still, some offices allow on-the-job naps, and many workers say it makes them more, not less, productive.

Yarde Metals, a metals distributing firm, built a nap room at its Southington, Conn., headquarters as part of an employee wellness program. With two leather sofas, fluffy pillows, soft lighting and an alarm clock, it’s the perfect place for a quick snooze, engineer Mark Ekenbarger said.

Ekenbarger, 56, has an enlarged heart artery and said he frequently takes half-hour naps on the advice of his doctor to reduce stress.

“It really does energize me for the rest of the day,” Ekenbarger said.

“It would be really encouraging if employers across the country really embraced that philosophy that napping is a good thing. It makes a big difference in my life.”

I rest my case. Vive les sommes, mofos.

A Strand of Old Age

My mom was helping me take out the twists in my hair this morning, in preparation for my trip to the hairdresser later in the afternoon.

As we were talking and she was helping comb out one side of my head, she suddenly said, “Oh, look – you have a golden hair.”

“Golden hair?” I said, wrinkling my nose. “What are you talking about?”

You know when you have that nanosecond where you think you have a clue as to where the conversation is headed, only to be brushed aside and forgotten just as quickly? Well, I thought, either my mom is saying I have a blond hair or a grey one. Or maybe just a different colour.

Didn’t matter, because half a second later, she yanked out the hair in question and gave it to me.

At first, I said, “Nah. This looks like a piece of lint.” Then I had another good second to look at the wavy, curly strand in question.

Lint it was not. It was white. White, white, white.

“No,” I said. “A gray hair, already? This is not good.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” my mom said. “Your brother has a couple of them, too.”

“No it’s not,” I said. “And you pulled it out. Don’t you know that for every hair you pull out, two grow back in its place?”

My mom just poo-pooed it. But maybe this is just the start. Today it’s one strand. Tomorrow, it’s, like, a whole patch. My dark, undyed hair is one of the few physical things I pride myself on (even if the stuff I comb IS the dead stuff).

Sure, I want one of those sophisticated white streaks, but when I’m, like, 50. Not NOW.

Happy Birthday, Bob!

I had all sorts of grandiose plans to try and blog every other day this month in tribute to Black History Month. but then I got tired … and busy … and lazy.

So consider this my first post.

Happy Bob Marley Day, everyone!

If you can, come in from the cold (’cause it’s coooooooold!) and lively up yourself.

(Happy belated, Melissa!)

New Month, New Posts Coming Soon

Hello my babies,

Happy February!

Sorry I haven’t been posting in the last little bit. I lost internet access at home last week, so I was going through withdrawal big time.

I also found out a couple days ago that I’m getting a temporary posting to a new job, starting in about a week’s time. So that’s exciting (and hopefully NOT regrettable!).

It’s late, but I’ll try to start posting again soon.