Friday, January 21, 2011

Why I Hate Medical Dramas

Ok, I don't actually hate them. That's a bit of an exaggeration. I've been known to watch a few... Grey's Anatomy, House, the seasons of ER that didn't suck. But when I recently watched the premier of Off the Map (out of curiosity, just to see if it had potential), there was a moment in the show that made me realize just how many times I had seen the exact same thing. And how annoying it is.

You've seen it too. There is a moment - maybe not in every episode of every show, but still ridiculously often - when the patient is pouring her heart out to the doctor. At first the doctor is in a hurry, and not in the mood to deal with the patient's annoying problem. But then he remembers the lesson that he's trying to learn this week, so he stops, focuses, and decides that this time he's actually going to listen. The patient emotionally describes her background story in incredible detail. The doctor listens, his heart slowly being softened. (You can tell this by the glassy-eyed look, the slight tilt of the head, and the poignant music playing in the background.) When the patient finishes her teary soliloquy, the doctor takes her hand, gives it a gentle pat, and with the most sincere and determined face that he can manage tells her that he is going to do everything he can to make it all better.

Now, I can't say with any authority that this never happens in real life. I haven't been to every doctor in the world. But I think it's fair to say that I have been to more than my share. I have a touching back story. I can do a teary soliloquy. But I've never had a doctor take my hand and tell me that he's going to do everything he can to make it all better. Not even close. It's been rare that a doctor has ever even pretended to care a little bit, let alone deeply and sincerely. (I'm not bitter, any more. It just is what it is.) Pretty much, in my experience, the doctors deal with you only as much as they have to, and then they're gone.

On a not completely unrelated note... I finally heard back from my surgeon's assistant. (Bet you didn't see where this post was going, did you?) She told me that the surgeon had looked at the CT scan, and that everything looked fine (nothing out of place, etc., etc.) She said that she could still schedule me an appointment if I want... but... you know... everything looked fine, so....

As touching is her obvious desire to help me was, I decided not to bother. (Why drive to an office an hour away and pay $40 just to hear "everything looks fine..." again?) Fortunately for me, that weird extra pain that I was having has pretty much worked itself out anyway. I'll probably never know what was causing it, but now at least I know that there is no obvious underlying problem that needs to be fixed. So that's something.

I haven't made my mind up yet about Off the Map. I might give it one more chance. But I'm pretty sure that I've seen my surgeon for the last time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

Earlier this week I was finally able to get my broken tooth extracted. Now, I had my wisdom teeth taken out when I was younger, but for that I was blissfully asleep. So this was an entirely new, less-than-pleasant experience for me. But it had to be done, so there we were.

Since the only memory I have of teeth coming out is when I lost my baby teeth, my idea of what this was going to be like was anything but realistic. It turns out that baby teeth are supposed to come out, whereas permanent teeth are not. That being the case, this extraction took longer, was more painful, and came with much more disturbing noise. (I think that may have been the worst part. That snapping sound is just plain creepy.) And of course being broken meant that it came out in multiple pieces, which meant several rounds of creepy snapping. That made things even more awesome.

Despite the unpleasantness, I was doing fine. I was mostly just listening to music and trying to block everything else out so I didn't have to think too much about what was being done to me. But then, as the dentist was trying and trying to get a particularly stubborn piece to come out, his assistant made a joke about how the tooth must really like me, because it just didn't want to come out. I couldn't respond, of course, with all of the fingers that I had in my mouth at the time, but my thought was that if the tooth really liked me, it wouldn't have broken in the first place. I figured it liked me about as little as I liked it at the moment.

So of course then my mind started to wander, and I started getting all philosophical about the whole situation. This tooth was damaged beyond repair. No going back. No salvaging the relationship. It had to end, for both our sakes. The only possible outcome of our continued coexistence would be mutual pain and further destruction. And yet... it didn't want to let go.

Yes, you could dismiss this as just a tooth that the dentist had a hard time extracting. Or you could accept the obvious symbolism, and ask yourself if you have ever seen this in your own life. (I'm guessing we all have.) Change is hard, and people generally tend to resist it. We cling to what we know, even if it is painful, or otherwise not good for us. We continue bad habits, or stay in bad situations, or hold on to negative emotions, because it is what we know, and the unknown is scary. On the other hand, without change there would be no growth. Sometimes we just have to let go, and move on. It might hurt at the time, but in the end chances are it will be for the best.

The tooth eventually came out, the bleeding eventually stopped, and with the help of some ibuprofen and an ice pack, I'm healing just fine. And I hope I can remember this the next time I find myself holding on to something that I just need to let go.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's PROBABLY Not a Bad Omen

My husband and I went out for New Year's Eve this year. Being old, and married, and generally boring, that's not something we do very often. But this year we thought we'd be a little more exciting, so the kids stayed with Grandma, and out we went.

Figuring we deserved a reward for surviving the whole crazy year, we decided to start with a really nice dinner at a steak house. Live music, festive atmosphere, spectacular view of the city, and a live bull out front. Could you ask for more? I was enjoying a wonderful evening with the love of my life, and everything was great. Until the steak arrived. And on the very first bite... I broke my freaking tooth!

To be fair, that was not a reflection of the steak. This tooth and I have had issues for a while. But still. Ouch! It was not exactly how I had seen the evening going. We still managed to have a fun night, mostly because we can always have fun when we're together, but my broken tooth did put a little bit of a damper on my spirits.

Now, I know there are those of you out there who do not believe in signs, or omens, or whatever you want to call them, just as I know that there are some of you who do. And if you do believe in signs, there is a good chance that you also believe that not everything that happens is a sign. Sometimes things just are what they are. But there are some things, like having a really painful accident just hours before the end of the year, that just feel symbolic. So of course I had to ponder what it might mean.

You might want to think that having something bad happen just before the start of the new year as a bad sign of things to come. (Is this year going to be filled with pain, or tragedy, or loss?) But if you read my first post, then you know I can't think that way. So I decided that instead of being a bad sign of things to come in the new year, it was actually a good sign of leaving the bad things in the past year, and starting new. It's a chance to make some necessary repairs, do some much-needed healing, and move on as a stronger person.

Yep. There's even a bright side to breaking a tooth.