I think it was The Kinks who penned the lyrics
Silly boy ya’ self-destroyer.
Paranoia, the destroyer
Self-destroyer, wreck your health
Destroy friends, destroy yourself
The time device of self-destruction
Light the fuse and start eruption
Last week, I needed to have a complete physical for my job. I got the confirmation of the appointment the night before, with a full list of tests that would be performed. EKG. Stress test. Extended Drug Screen. Audio test. Vision test. Thyroid test. Chest X-ray. Lipid check. Pulmonary screening.
Quite a comprehensive exam. My first thought was “Woo Hoo! It’s time for my annual physical anyway, and now I won’t have to pay for it.”
My “first thought” usually doubles as an alarm clock for my gremlins, and that night was no exception. The gremlins jumped on this like flies on fecal matter . With less than 12 hours between notification and the time I had to check in at the clinic, my inner demons were going to have to pull out all the stops to turn this free wellness check into a nightmare-inducing anxiety attack.
Those gremlins. Such skilled little imps, they are. It’s no wonder, considering how well fed I’ve kept them over the years. I’ve nurtured those mental monsters like they were helpless orphans for as long as I can remember.
It started when I had to forego my nightstand drink when I went to bed. Since it was fasting blood work, I could have nothing to eat or drink after midnight. What happens when I can’t have liquid? Like any normal person, I become parched beyond all belief. Thirst makes me restless, and restlessness is the favorite food of gremlins.
I begin mentally reviewing the procedures that are required. It seems in line with the requirements for space travel. I wonder if somehow my job grade has been entered improperly somewhere.
Drug screen. Pffffffft. Expected and unconcerned. I don’t even eat poppy seeds on my bagels.
Blood tests to check lipid levels, sugar levels, electrolytes, kidney function, liver function, blah blah. Yeah, my lipids and I have a dysfunctional relationship, but I know what makes them go screwy, and haven’t been pushing my luck there, so no worries.
Except….thyroid, eh? My sisters and I just had a conversation about thyroids. They both have had issues with theirs, and just a few weeks ago encouraged me to have mine checked. What’s the worst that can happen with a thyroid? I make a mental note to look that up.
Audiogram and vision test. I just had my eyes checked the day before, no surprises there. Although, the optometrist said, “Well, you don’t have cataracts yet, but you’re on your way.” Well, thanks. Like most married people, I occasionally have selective hearing, but I’m pretty sure I can squeak by the test.
Pulmonary exam, stress test, chest X-ray, and EKG. Wowza. What are they looking for in a chest X-ray? Making sure I’m telling the truth on my non-smoking status? Do I look like a walking heart attack?
What if something is discovered during this battery of tests? I wonder if I should go online and double my life insurance coverage before I go to sleep, just in case. What if the EKG shows a blockage? What if the chest X-ray shows a dreaded spot? If I wait until I know about it, I have to disclose it on my life insurance questionnaire. So I should do it before morning.
Downstairs I go to research life insurance policy updates. It’s 1:00 a.m. I need to be pulling out of my driveway in 5 1/2 hours. I’m thirsty. The reasonable voice in the back of my head is telling me to stop being ridiculous and just go to sleep, but, alas, I cannot listen to reason. The gremlins are afoot.
As I’m going through term life rates, weighing a new policy vs. a current policy increase, I begin to wonder what happens if the tests show something bad. How sucky would it be to find out I have a dreaded condition at the same time my employer says, “Sorry about your dreaded condition….and the fact that now you don’t have a job.” I mean, that’s what it comes down to, right? They aren’t running all these tests for curiosity’s sake.
Insurance project complete. Steve, the kids, and grandkids will be able to mourn my passing in style, while grieving inconsolably on a tropical beach somewhere.
I need to get some sleep, but the gremlins won’t let me forget that thyroid thing. Since I’m already online, I may as well check into it.
Google “thyroid disorders” and you get this:
About 9,840,000 results (0.34 seconds)
Well, THIS will be fun! First task is finding a list of symptoms, which is pretty simple. Here are the Top Five Symptoms Of Thyroid Malfunction:
1. Fatigue – well, duh. I mean, is there a human alive who isn’t tired?
2. Weight changes – hourly. Maybe not hourly, but I can fluctuate 20 lbs. in a 2 week period.
3. Depression / Anxiety – of course. Again, is there a human alive who doesn’t get anxiety?
4. Cholesterol issues – yes. My levels, like my weight, fluctuate wildly.
5. Family History – yes. I didn’t know I had a family history until a couple of weeks ago.
Apparently I’ve been walking around with a thyroid disorder for 25 years. I’ll probably have a goiter by morning. Oh, wait….it IS morning. 2:18 a.m., to be exact. I have to go to bed.
I think I napped, but at 4:32 a.m. I am fully awake. I’ve mentally walked through how the insurance money should be disbursed after my untimely death. I’ve revised my bucket list to accommodate only the most important things I want to accomplish, careful to consider that I’ll be doing them in a state of exhaustion, and with a goiter on my neck.
I set a reminder on my phone to look into a Do Not Resuscitate order so my family won’t have to make those awful decisions. I’ve evaluated the most obvious candidates for my husband’s next wife, and I have to say that each one of them will be a sorry replacement. One of them, specifically, is an insufferable bitch, and I swear a solemn oath under my breath to haunt them mercilessly if he lowers himself to her level.
Groggy, headache-y, and thirsty like a camel, I make my way to the hospital. I’m ready to hear the news, and am almost disinterested in which body part will be responsible for my demise: thyroid cancer…..90% blockage in a main artery……harmless looking tumor on the lung that has metastasized to all of my major organs? In the end, does it really matter?
I was so accepting of my fate that my blood pressure was lower than normal, “perfect” according to the nice Medical Assistant that checked it. My hearing was fine, and my vision was exactly as it had been a few days before. So far, so good.
Time for the EKG. “Looks perfect, ” the nice Medical Assistant chirped. Alrighty, then. That means that I need to brace for the chest X-ray.
The happy M.A. takes me back to Radiology and introduces me to an equally happy woman who explains she’s going to get some pictures. I get lined up and take a deep breath and hold it as instructed. The gremlins are giddy with anticipation. This is the moment that will change my life forever.
“I’d like to take another one. I need a better look.”
AHA! I knew it! Here it comes.
“OK, we’re done. I’m going to take you back to the Dr.’s office, and he’ll be in shortly.”
The wait in the Doctor’s office seemed to last a long time. I checked my watch, and was surprised that I’d been at the hospital for 4 hours already. I am still weighing burial vs. cremation when the Dr. comes in and introduces himself.
I’m a little taken aback at his casual demeanor. I mean, this is my LIFE we’re talking about here! I’m watching him intently while he flips through the papers on the clipboard, trying to identify when he hits the information that will make him scrunch his eyebrows, purse his lips, and let out an exasperated sigh. I imagine that it’s still tough for him, after all these years, to give people the news that they dread hearing.
He’s got a great poker face, this guy. He’s not giving off any clues at all.
I’m trying to decide how I’ll break the news to Steve when Dr. Death says, “Well.”
“Well”? What the hell does that mean?
“It will be a few days before we get all the blood work back. Hopefully by Monday.”
Monday. So Monday we’ll decide what the options are, get some referrals to experts in ….. wait, in what? What are we dealing with here, Doc?
“So far, everything looks great. Your UA was negative, but I’m sure that’s no surprise to you. The EKG was perfect, and so was your pulmonary test. Your chest X-ray is clean. Stress test is fine. Based on all this, I don’t expect we’ll be getting any surprises from your bloodwork. You’re a picture of health, young lady.”
At first it doesn’t register. He’s saying I’m FINE? No tumor? No goiter? No hypertension? I don’t need to have my Last Will & Testament reviewed?
I’m not dying?
“Do you have any questions?”
I think back to The Kinks…
Doctor, Doctor help me please, I know you’ll understand
There’s a time device inside of me, I’m a self-destructin’ man
There’s a red, under my bed
And there’s a little green man in my head
I smile and shake my head. “Nope, I’m great. Thanks, Doc!”
Thank heavens they didn’t give me a paranoid idiot test.