I hate hospitals. I have my issues with doctors. My last begrudging annual physical ended in a very terse refusal of a surprising array of prescription drugs. I’m already ahead of myself.
It began with the nurse asking me a few questions as part of a new mandatory depression screening.
Have you felt down or hopeless at any point in the past two weeks?
Haven’t you? I want to respond. Hasn’t everyone? Surely that’s not a significant litmus test for mental health.
Have you had any suicidal thoughts?
It’s 11 am, you told me to fast for the past 24 hours, I haven’t had any coffee, and I have a serious case of the hangries, does homicidal count? My lingering pause in attempts to find a good way to answer this seems concern enough. She rushes out of the room, my caffeine headache thundering into my earlobes. She returns to take my vitals, and I cough, take deep breaths, and present my tongue for inspection. More waiting. Do people actually read, Reader’s Digest? My doctor appears and we spend less than 20 minutes together. I voice my concerns. I get sick, ALL the time, why? I have this pain in my foot, why?
Some people just get sick a lot, probably a bad year for colds. Could be a tendon thing.
She glosses over. She party lines me until I have to channel my assertive-alter ego and insist that I won’t be taking a “broad spectrum antibiotic” for a cough that has settled deep in my chest. I am loosing the battle.
I’m going to put you on an inhaled steroid, for your congestion.
What?! Yes, i’m congested. It’s generally a resting state for me. I’m used to it. What are the side effects?
Some people get bloody noses, headaches, and occasional vomiting.
That all sounds 100% worse than mild congestion. I’m tired of fighting her and her wall full of I know better than you. She wants to talk to me about my responses to the depression screening.
I sit here weeks later wondering if I should have said something, phrased something, differently, or put on a more convincing “acquaintance smile” in attempts to escape her scrutiny. Feeling out my reaction, and how much of it is response to the weightiness of our societal taboos about mental health, I’ve got more questions than answers. I want to feel happy, Doesn’t everyone? Sure, I want to feel more happy, more often! But this seems like a too-good-to-be-true trap.
Maybe talking to someone is the answer. Maybe running more is. None of these seem like options. Drugs – Paxil – is the answer, the only option.
I escape with a prescription for Flonase (this is a thing – the inhaled steroid – and I swear to you it is actually called that). She chases me down in the hall to give me a card for a podiatrist, and another petition to consider the Paxil. It has taken everything out of me. Confrontation-phobic to a fault (and still sans-coffee), I have mustered all my resources to the cause, to get myself out. I wilt in the face of authority, perceived or otherwise, too often forgetting that I am the authority on me. Thanks, I will. I won’t. I walk away, coaching myself not break into an all out sprint. Even here, now, in the sterile halls of the clinic, just thinking about running makes everything seem better.
Mental Note: Find a new GP.