Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Doing a dump at the Doctors

We three had a busy Saturday morning. Sapphire's too-early-for-a-non-work-day tennis lesson, a spot of grocery shopping and then a bloodtest at the doctor for me before heading out to brunch.

My bladder was starting to squeak every time I moved, so I tentatively snuck into the toilet adjoining my local medical centre's waiting room. Hindsight is a regretful pastime but it is not a good idea to use the toilet facilities at your doctor's surgery if you are already worried about aspects of your health and well being.

Blue-tacked on the wall directly in front of me and finely tuned to my eye level, was a cobalt blue poster screaming: DO YOU SUFFER FROM BLADDER WEAKNESS? Um, well, I did right then, cos that's why I was in there, reading the medical blurb. But then the infernal poster asked, HAVE YOU EVER...? and the Infernal WorryWart within me took over. Do you plan your day around where toilets are located? Do you avoid exercise in case of urine leakage? Laughing? Do you choose to miss the bus instead of running to catch it? Oh dear....

It was time to drag my eyes away and look above the basin instead. GET TO KNOW HERPES, the red brochure stuck on the mirror commanded. After a few moments, my knowledge of the condition had considerably increased. For example, did you know that one of the first signs of genital herpes might in fact be flu-like symptoms, as in sore muscles, headache, fever or chills? Apparently the herpes microbe creature germ thingies prefer 'soft skin' such as lips, genitals and the anus and it's cheering to know that approximately one-in-eight Aussies have the condition. Who cares about what we spend on health as part of our GDP when we have a statistic like this to be proud of.

Things were not improving, reading-matter wise, because next to the bog-roll holder a nurse had tactfully placed a sticker, advising that BOWEL CANCER IS A MALIGNANT GROWTH THAT STARTS IN THE LARGE BOWEL (COLON) OR RECTUM. Fine, that seemed pretty correct and fair enough and it was surely very bad luck for the poor bastards who have it. But wait, there was more sobering news for any of us bathroom butt-heads who read further: 'A faecal occult blood test is used to screen for cancer.' Well you'd certainly hope so for the stress of having to lay a cable, catch it without spillage or splashing and then bring it into the doctor's office in a hopefully non-transparent tupperware container. And yet: 'These are not diagnostic tests - they cannot tell if you have cancer. They are used to identify people who need further testing.' That's just great, isn't it - what's the next stage going to be like - a three kilogram sample that is required to be catapulted into a four litre icecream carton and refrigerated at home for a week before delivery?

Understandably, I wasn't expecting too much excitement when my eyes unwillingly-but-automatically read the brochure on the liquid soap dispenser. 'Crohn's disease and ulcerative collitis (IBD) can causediarrhoea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and can adversely affect the eyes, skin and joints.' Fabulous, really. Still, at least, typed in bold, was the hopeful question we all yearned for: 'How can this be treated?' After mentioning a few drugs, the brochure sadly concluded, 'Unfortunately, despite much research, the exact cause of IBD is still unknown.' Marvellous. The champagne will clearly have to be saved for much later - if I was able to digest it, of course.

After a mentally-exaggerated eternity it was finally time to flush, re-dress the southernmost parts of my body, wash my hands, dry off and get the hell out of the scary little room. And yet my urge to read the rest of the material overtook my sense of foreboding. Skin Spots to Watch sported some truly gorgeous colour photographs of basal cell carcinomas, squamos cells, melanomas and Seborrhoeic Keratoses to look forward to the next time I dared show my bather-clad body in public swimming areas; heaps of blah about a new contraceptive implant that admitted in tiny print 'this, like other contraceptive devices, is not 100% effective'; and the eye-wateringly witty 'Managing Menopause and Osteoporosis.'

As my now-shaky hands reached for the door handle to escape into hopefully more positively-decorated waiting room, the smallest poster caught my eye. Ah, the irony of it - 'Come see us at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic - we will help you stop having those panic attacks.' Well thank God for that!


Jan said...

LOL! Thanks for expressing the chaos we all feel, whether others will admit it or not, when reading those things against our wills!

fifi-belle said...

Makes me think of hairdryers labelled 'do not use in the bath' and corrosive timber-cleaning acid bottles labelled 'not to be taken'. And the Mazda instruction manual for my new baby which says 'do not clean paintwork using steel wool'. Well, who would have thunk?