There are at least five things that I want to talk to my doctor about. At length.
How, first of all, do I tell the tiny pre cancerous growths on my hands and arms from all the other little bruises and freckles and spots and marks? Did she know when she prescribed the Picata gel for them that it cost $150.00? I think I wasted at least half of it.
And the cough persists, it's really no better, but the antibiotic was making me feel sick. And I read on the internet that doctor's should ask if a patient is on statin drugs before they prescribe antibiotic. Why didn't she ask me?!
And my leg hurts. Even with the anti inflammatory and the pain killers, it still hurts. It slows me down, it makes me tired. A year ago, she was content to say it was "ligament damage'. But the last time I saw her, after looking at an X Ray, she says it's my hip, of course, and I may need a hip replacement down the track. When? How will I know? Is it enough pain when I don't want to walk down to the river, or should I be waiting until it just hurts all the time?
I should ask about sleep apnoea, about how hard it is to find the right position at night to actually breathe. This isn't good. She'd have to examine my nasal passages, check my heart rate, lung capacity, chest, ask me questions about my sleep patterns, (at least a half hour discussion in itself!), talk to me about effects, about options for treatment. I can't see how she'd get all this done in less than fifteen minutes.
There are other things that could take even longer.
Sometimes, lying with my left ear pressed into the pillow at night, I can hear my heart, and it seems to be racing, beating really fast, and irregularly.
And sometimes, I can't remember the words for things, really obvious things. I know what they are, but I can't think of the word, try as I might.
And sometimes, I feel anti social. The thought of company makes me want to hide, momentarily. I feel frightened, exposed, I don't want to see anyone. I have to steel myself, make myself. I know I'll be OK, I'll enjoy it - the company - once I start. But can it be normal to have this fearful cringe, this...social phobia? at my age? Should I be on something for it?
A standard, Level B consultation is 10 minutes, and costs $92.00 A Level C consultation is up to 20 minutes, and costs a whopping $175.00 at my doctor's. My doctor does not bulk bill, and I don't know any doctor who does, (except at the walk in clinic, where you wait for 3 hours, and then see a doctor you've never seen before in your life, and will almost certainly never see again.
When she calls me into her surgery, my doctor is already running 35 minutes late, although it's only mid morning. She's lovely, unfailingly polite, friendly, and seemingly interested in me. I could even imagine she is pleased to see me!
Before I can start telling her about any of the things on my list, she asks me about the last thing I saw her about, some months ago, which she has up on her screen. The minutes tick away, I don't want to be talking about this thing, but she persists. Then there's a brief pause, my cue. I launch into one of the things on my list, at random. I feel panicky. Have I chosen the most important thing? She addresses it efficiently - it's the pre cancerous spots - shows me carefully how to recognise them, writes me another script.
She's on the edge of her chair, her whole body points to the door. If I choose one more thing from the list , it will be a Level C consultation and not a Level B. I start to tell her about my leg, but it all seems waffly now, as if I am complaining, or somehow overstepping the mark. She is patient, but not very. There is nothing new to say; she repeats what she has said before.
$175.00, and I'm out on the street. Feeling like I need a friend, not a doctor. Feeling like a good cry might do me more good.