Thank you for your concern yesterday about my colonoscopy and most of all for the compelling conversation on the topic. The procedure itself was a lot easier than the preparation, as Millie Garfield of My Mom’s Blog noted in comments yesterday. It took a mighty effort not to vomit that disgusting stuff and I’m relieved that the doctor says I won’t need to do this again for five years.
Judy left a comment I could have written word-for-word:
“When I made the appointment for the test the clerk told me it was required that someone accompany me to the clinic and be available to drive me home. I protested that I had no one to do that (that was true as I have no family in the area at all and I would not ask a friend to take off work). My plan had been to take a taxi to the clinic and back home. The lady said they could not allow that as the taxi driver might "take advantage" of me and the clinic would be liable. I thought that was ridiculous!”
In my case, the clinic clerk had informed me that a taxi is not allowed because my “safety is their primary concern.” Of course, both reasons are nonsense. The clinic has no liability for taxi drivers’ behavior nor can they guarantee (in practice or in law) that a friend will necessarily ensure one’s safety.
We had quite a go-round about my return home until I capitulated by asking my young, downstairs neighbor to act as my driver. He’s a nice kid, a young, up-and-coming musician, and we have become friends. But I didn’t relish the inevitable question of “I hope it’s nothing serious” and having to explain.
It turned out all right, but the issue that bothers me is the insistence by the clinic that the driver be a friend or relative.
Let’s be clear: there is no liability to the clinic if anyone – taxi driver or otherwise - crashes the car or if the patient falls while entering his or her home. And in my case, a clinic employee insisted on walking me to my friend’s car so if I fell on their property, she was there to help. Therefore, the refusal to perform a colonoscopy without my signed assurance of a friend driver places an unwarranted obstacle in the path of one’s healthcare.
It took 15 years for a doctor to talk me into a colonoscopy and I had been willing to forgo it over the driver issue until it occurred to me to ask my neighbor who happened to be free yesterday morning. Fortunately, the clinic is only 15 minutes from our condominium. Had it been twice that long or more, I doubt I would have asked.
There is also the indignity of it. Because I am independent to a fault, I am undoubtedly making too much of this, but I felt infantilized. I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 17 years old. I may be stupid about healthcare in general (see Monday’s post), but I’m not an idiot; I know when to ask for help. Yesterday, it was not needed.
Like Millie, I was also told to take it easy for the rest of the day, not to drive and to avoid stairs even though I was previously advised that there is no hangover from the anesthesia after 20 minutes. Also like Millie, I was fine. Directly from the clinic, I took my neighbor out for a spicy, Indian lunch. (I was a mite hungry after 28 hours without food.) Later, I trudged up and down the 14 stairs to my apartment three times taking garbage out for the trash collectors and later drove to the store.
Now I'm wondering if the propensity of doctors and clinicians to treat patients as children, particularly when common sense contradicts their directives, is a cause of my reluctance to spend much time with them. I respect their superior knowledge of medicine itself and rely on it when it is needed, but I'd like a little respect for my intelligence. It would be better to be treated more like a grownup.
Otherwise, all went well. The doctor, nurses and helpers were kind, efficient and answered all my nitpicky questions - although the clinic, which specializes in gastroenterology, did feel like an assembly line of naked bums.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Virginia DeBolt returns with a funny story titled Laughing in Loving that also reminds us of the golden pleasures of old friends.]