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Why Pete hates going to the doctor - (5/22/2018)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro 

Pete came into the pharmacy and said to the pharmacist, “Wow! I feel terrible. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I feel so tired.” The pharmacist suggested that he make a visit to his physician. Maybe get some blood work done. “Really?” replied Pete. “I’m not in the mood for bad news this week. Whatever it is will probably go away.” Maybe, maybe not, thought the pharmacist. 

Most of us do not particularly enjoy going to the doctor. From the eternal time oft spent in the waiting room flipping through old magazines, to the possibility of a painful procedure, doctor visits can cause anxiety in nearly anyone. This is Pete’s problem. “Doctors always want to insert a finger or a needle somewhere!” Pete exclaimed. He needs to remember that the doctor is there to make sure Pete’s health is as good as it can be. Yes, there are physicians and other clinicians who have terrible bedside manners – abrupt, deaf to your complaints, cold-shouldered. However, the majority of people you see at the doctor‘s office want to help. 

So why is Pete fearful of going to see his doctor? First, most people do not see a doctor unless there is a serious problem, which increases the chances of finding something bad. Such people do not go in for a yearly checkup. They usually are behind on their vaccinations. They may be on a pill for high blood pressure but they do not use their BP monitor at home. Pete says, “I take the pill as directed. Nothing has changed. Then, after a year, I get a call from the doctor’s office saying that they will not refill my medication unless I come in for an exam!” The reason for that is because his BP pill may not be controlling his pressure they way it should.   

Secondly, the less frequently one goes to the doctor, the greater chance of having an irrational fear of pain. Pete says, “I hate needles. I am afraid I am going to faint!” Pete is a big guy and the needle is so small. Whether it is an injection, a procedure, or blood work, one does not know how much it hurts until one experiences it. A flu shot, for example, involves a very tiny needle that retracts back into the syringe barrel as soon as the vaccine is pushed into the arm. Some people are amazed that they do not feel anything. Thirdly, no one likes to hear that he or she is doing something wrong. Many people resent being told they are too fat, too thin, have unbelievably high cholesterol, need to exercise more, and smoke cigarettes less. A doctor visit is just an evaluation of one’s health that one may misinterpret as a criticism even though the doctor is just doing his or her job.

Indeed, doctors can be the bearers of bad news. However, waiting for that cough to turn into Stage 4 lung cancer makes no sense. In fact, Pete was lucky to have finally seen his doctor. His chronic fatigue was the beginning of congestive heart failure. His other symptoms such as shortness of breath, trouble walking, and his increased belly size indicated that his heart was not working correctly. 

Pete says, “The doctor told me that if I had waited several more months, I would be pushing up daisies. I won’t take that chance again!” Instead, Pete had several tests to determine his heart function. His doctor started him on two more meds to help his heart beat normally. The same way your car needs to be routinely oiled and lubed, your body needs routine maintenance too. Vaccines, drug reviews, blood pressure, and weight are all important to keep you alive and kicking.

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a registered pharmacist, medical writer, and principal at Rx-Press.com. Read more at www.rx-press.com     


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