By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99
The start of school signals a time for getting some things done in preparation for the nine months to come. Many students scurried to make appointments with their family doctor for physicals and their dentist for check ups. Doctors and dentists are valuable folks who help to improve our quality of life. They do what they can to keep us healthy even when the visit may be somewhat uncomfortable for us. In particular, sports physicals for boys include one rather intimate interaction with the doctor that involves the cupping of the doctor’s hand and the boy letting out his best cough!
I recently completed my yearly eye exam. Though not as intrusive as a sports physical, for some reason I get nervous as I undergo this routine procedure. I’m not sure if it is the dark room and the strange looking machines or the thought of “flunking” the test. I feel extreme pressure when asked, “What is the smallest row you can read?” or “which is better 1 or 2, 3 or 4, 5 or 6?” My heart races and my face get flushed. What happens if I give the wrong answer? Do I get bonus points for squinting to see the smallest letters? How many times in my life do I read something with one eye covered? The doctor had an unfair advantage during my last visit. She ordered some sort of drops be put into my eyes which made me feel like my eyeballs were frozen. I was then asked to read what was on the wall. Not fair doc, you blinded me then asked me to read! Last year I went to a doctor who told me to place my chin on the machine. I was cautioned that I would receive a “puff of air” into my eye. Despite the warning, I nearly jumped out of the chair when the whoosh hit me. It was like saying, “relax Mr. Fowler; in a moment I’m going to hit you over the head with a mallet”. Telling me what is about to happen doesn’t reduce my anxiety as I wait for it to happen!
I’ve come to realize that that doctors become a bigger part of our life as we get older. As a kid, I didn’t think much about going to the doctor. I usually went only if I had a fever or if I had thrown up multiple times. The eye doctor was easy. At 15 I had eyes like Superman. I could easily read the wall and read it quickly. I was cocky with my 20/20 vision. “Hey doc, want me to stand on my head & read your little chart?” Yes, I thought at 15 years old it couldn’t get any more embarrassing than my appointment with “Dr. Goodhands”. Of course I was wrong. At 50 years old I met “Dr. Coldfinger”…..and he introduced me to the wild world of the colonoscopy!