I typed the appointment time into my smartphone calendar app and then frowned down at the glowing screen. I was beginning to see a pattern, and I didn’t like it.
Next Tuesday: Mammogram
Third Thursday: Eye exam
Fourth Friday: Annual physical
Next month: Teeth cleaning
Lately it feels like I’m always scheduling another doctor’s appointment. When I factor in regular checkups for our three kids PLUS the appointments with my hair stylist who expertly covers these pesky gray hairs that keep popping up, I’m realizing that a big chunk of my life is spent in appointments.
Sometimes I see someone out in public and instantly recognize the face but can’t think of the name, and then I realize she’s one of the many nurses or receptionists I see when I go to yet another doctor’s appointment.
I hate to admit it but all these calendar entries don’t lie. More and more, it’s taking a significant number of trained professionals to keep this middle-aged body ticking along at top speed.
When did this happen? Back in college, I could get by on a sporadic diet of chili dogs and Cap’n Crunch cereal and only occasionally need a doctor during those rare times when I might develop a sinus infection.
Those days, sadly, are over.
The only thing that makes this situation easier is the fact that I’m not alone. My husband has had more doctor appointments than I can count lately, trying to get his prescription for bifocals just right. Bifocals! Aren’t we too young for those?
And yesterday I had a phone conversation with a dear friend who told me she has finally scheduled a date for surgery to correct her gum recession. I pounced on this news, eager for more information:
“So you’re doing it? My dentist wants me to have that done, too. Who’s going to do your surgery? Do you like him?”
“Yes, I had the consultation and he says I’m a good candidate for the surgery and really need to have it done.”
“Well maybe I’ll wait until after your surgery and if you like how it goes, then I’ll schedule my surgery with the same doctor. I want to hear everything about it, okay?”
“If I can still move my mouth, I’ll give you the details.”
After I hung up, I remembered back to a time when my girlfriends and I used to talk about boyfriends and what we were planning to wear when we went out on a Saturday night. Now we talk about receding gums, and we trade names of gifted oral surgeons. We compare co-pays on insurance plans. We swap tips about vitamin deficiencies.
Middle age brought with it a batch of subjects I never wanted to know this much about, yet here we are, spending more time on WebMD than we do on Facebook.
The good news is that, despite all the doctor appointments, I’m healthy and so is my bi-focal wearing husband. We’re the lucky ones. If we get regular checkups and medical screenings, I pray that we’ll stay that way. And I’m grateful we have good doctors who take excellent care of us when we do find ourselves in their offices.
But every now and then, it would be nice to feel like I did when I was in my twenties, when the only appointment on my agenda was with a chili dog and a late night bowl of Cap’n Crunch.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.