I schedule no fewer than eight thousand doctor’s appointments in any given year. Collectively my four kids see an oncologist, a dermatologist, an endocrinologist, a dentist, an orthodontist, an ophthalmologist, an optometrist, a mental health therapist, a cardiologist, an otolaryngologist, a urologist, and two different pediatricians. So I am no stranger to making and attending doctor’s appointments.
But ask me the last time I’ve been to the dentist – to check my own teeth – and you’ll get an earful of excuses about limited sick leave and my incredibly busy schedule.
Worse yet, I, like far too many mothers, have lived without a primary care physician for an embarrassingly long time – only going to urgent care clinics when I am really, really sick.
I have no excuse for this behavior. I have good insurance and a reasonable amount of sick leave. I’m really no busier than any other mother. Still, it’s been easy for me to put my own health on the back burner under the guise of selflessness.
I was scrolling through social media one day and I read an article outlining how many children have been falling behind on routine well-checks and vaccinations during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Full of self-righteousness, remembering all the telehealth and masked-up doctor’s appointments I’ve made and kept for my kids during this pandemic, I called a friend and told her how awful it was parents weren’t taking their kids in for preventative care.
Without hesitation, my friend called me out. Mid-sentence. “Remind me again why you aren’t seeing a doctor regularly, Jessie? Your health matters too!”
With her words echoing in my head, I carved out an hour of time and made some calls.
What, like it’s hard?
I made a list of all the doctor’s appointments I’ve been avoiding or postponing. It was a long list. Some things were routine – like scheduling a dentist appointment and a mammogram – and some things were more unique. Like finally dealing with my painful varicose veins and following up on my mom’s recommendation that I get a colonoscopy sooner than later based on our family history.
It all started by selecting a personal physician, for myself. No more urgent care as a replacement for primary care. My goodness, I’m turning forty-three this year! It’s time to have my own doctor.
I asked around and found a DO nearby with good reviews and who turned out to be a fabulous listener. I knew we were well matched when she encouraged me to keep talking after I had been prattling on about my general health for most of the visit. She helped me prioritize my health concerns and made follow up appointments at the appropriate specialists. Best of all, she encouraged me to call or visit whenever I had a question or concern.
And that was that. I now have my own doctor, a page full of upcoming preventative care appointments in my planner, and three vascular surgeries scheduled to ease my persistent leg pain.
I couldn’t help but reflect on the immortal words of Elle Woods, “what, like it’s hard?” The whole experience was simple, took very little time out of my busy schedule, and makes me sleep better at night knowing I’m prioritizing my health with the same fervor I do the health of my children.
It’s time to go to the doctor for yourself, momma.