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Doctor? Nah. I’ve got vaseline.

My grandmother believed that just about any ailment short of a broken bone could be cured by a nap and Vaseline (and occasional handfuls of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate morsels).  

As I remember it, she went to the doctor only when it couldn’t be avoided, like when she broke her wrist, or when her daughters insisted that her rapid heartbeat–which caused the artery in her neck to throb so fast it looked like she’d swallowed a small butterfly–needed actual medical treatment, not small sips of Coca-cola and chocolate chips sprinkled on saltines (delicious, trust me).

I think that Gram avoided doctors as she got older because seriously, who wants to be reminded that the ol’body isn’t working like it used to? Who wants to hear that the things you want low have gotten high (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight) and things you want high have gotten low (belly, boobs, arches, vision)?  Better just not to know, right?

Or maybe I’m projecting. Maybe Gram had other reasons and it’s just me who doesn’t want to know what’s not working, who doesn’t much want to be poked or prodded or–god forbid–have the dentist look in my mouth.  The dentist would take one look, scream in horror, stumble backwards, trip over her stool, and have to be rushed to the ER with a head injury. And I couldn’t have that on my conscience, could I? No, better just to stay home, flossing occasionally and eating my daily apple.

Husband finds my avoidance of medical practioners not at all humorous. He points out that I am very conscientious about the boys’ appointments: teeth cleanings, checkups, allergists, whatever is needed gets taken care of.  Husband himself is a good patient, who gets his plumbing all checked out on a regular basis. He also points out that as we–ahem–age, any potential problems that might be brewing are only going to get worse, and thus more expensive to fix. Such a sentimental guy, right?

Here’s the thing. I never get the car washed and I remember to put oil in the engine only when that little light flicks on.  And yes, that’s a metaphor. If I came with a little “check oil” light, maybe I’d be better about getting checkups.  Mostly, it’s that I’ve been lucky–blessed with pretty good health  (knocking lots of wood right here) – no major illnesses, no broken bones, no chronic illnesses, no structural problems.

Or rather there haven’t been any structural problems until now, on the other side of “mid-forties.”  Now there’s a lower back that twinges, a tooth that sometimes aches, a mid-section that resists whittling, eyes that require either the full-arm stretch to focus on the menu or the glasses pulled down and the menu brought close, a head that aches after two glasses of wine…it ain’t pretty, folks.

All of which means it’s time for me to hie myself to the dentist, the doctor, the eye-guy, and probably the dermatologist, given how much I love the sunshine and how rarely I remember to slather on sunscreen (although I am really good about putting it on my kids).

Who has time, though? Isn’t that the traditional plaint of the working mom? Am I paying big bucks to send my kids to day camp in July so that I can sit for hours in some doctor’s waiting room flipping through back issues of Vanity Fair?  You see my point.

Maybe I need to talk to myself like I’m in a twelve-step program: it’s just one appointment, you can do one appointment, you can find time for just one doctor. Just take it one checkup at a time.

Okay. You’ve heard it here, in the blogsphere, where no one knows anyone’s cholesterol numbers and we all have good teeth. Before the summer is over, I will make (and keep) one doctor’s appointment.

In the meantime, I’ll follow Gram’s advice and lay in supplies of vaseline and chocolate chips.  Anyone who lives to be 90 must’ve been on to something, right?

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5 Responses to Doctor? Nah. I’ve got vaseline.

  1. joan June 9, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    my grandmother’s standard RX was a dip in the ocean–i’m a true believer; cures everything! so maybe a trip to the beach instead??

  2. Jeanellen June 10, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Another post that makes me believe even more strongly that we were separated at birth.

  3. annnnnn June 10, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    My sister works with an old Southern man who (I kid you not) takes a spoonful of turpentine when he feels poorly.

  4. Deborah Quinn June 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    @Ann: turpentine, eh? This same grandmother of mine, when she was a girl, used to wait by the side of the newly paved road, with her siblings, and chew on pieces of fresh tar “to make their teeth white.” No wonder she lived so long: her insides were basically pickled, I figure.

  5. Dick Horwich June 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    I get my car’s oil changed twice as often as is recommended; no way am I not going to take care of that baby. My body is a different story. One of the many things that amuses our daughter is the way my wife and I prepare for annual physical exams: for two weeks, we cut out alcohol and fat, so our liver enzymes and cholesterol will drop to acceptable ranges; on the day of the exam we work out vigorously to lower our blood pressure. Why not just skip the exam? What responsible adult would do that?

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