I had to see my GP yesterday to arrange for a urine test for an upcoming cystoscopy.
He is a kind, elderly gentleman of the old school. so to speak. He calls me Peter and I call him Robert. He is genuinely concerned about my health. He has been my GP for about the last twenty years and when he moved away from the local surgery to another location, 20 km away, I followed him. As long as I can still drive a car I will see him at this brand new medical centre.
Medical centres are now built like huge airport lounges, spacious and full of light with comfortable lounges and chairs. Here, the sick and infirm can while their time away while they wait, sometimes for a couple of hours, to see the medical practitioners of their choice. Many of the patients staring intensely at their smartphone. There is no more need for those boring, out of date magazines in the waiting room anymore.
Last year we had visitors from Germany and one day they came along when I had to visit my GP. They were surprised to see the medical centre in all its splendour.
Statistics show that patients incur most of their medical expenses in the last half year of their lives. With all the medical expenses Medicare had to fork out for me lately, I wonder whether I am in my last half year? I hope not, as I do want to experience more of life as long as possible. Indeed, we have to attend a wedding next month.
So, yesterday Robert was happy to see me again. I was in good spirits. He was the one who discovered the cancer of the bladder lurking inside me. My blood pressure was not high and my bladder does not cause me any undue inconvenience. Quickly he filled in the necessary forms for the urine test and supplied me with a small container to deposit a sample.
With that being out of the way I told him about some other concerns I’m having.
Years ago, I used to be a long-distance runner. I pounded the local roads and sports fields to train for marathons and other long-distance races. We live near Lake Illawarra and it provided me with a beautiful 40km opportunity to train for the marathons. I stopped racing in 2005 but not running. In November 2010 my right knee played up and has not come good again since. The good doctor wanted to replace the annoying knee.
“But your running days will be over,” he told me. I refused the offer.
After a break of several months, I started jogging again but have never reached the same level of speed or distance. Every time I have a break from running it becomes worse. Lately, I noticed when walking for about two minutes, I felt uncomfortable in my chest and my shoulder and arms seem to be without blood or energy. I had to slow down if that was even possible because my walking pace is not that great.
When I told that to my doctor he looked at me with a puzzling face. Out came the stethoscope and he listened to my chest while I took deep breaths.
“You know what? I think it is your heart’, he said and tried to say something more. I stopped him there and told him that my skin specialist had ordered an ECG in December. Why she did this, I have no idea.
With a couple of clicks, on his keyboard, Robert was able to retrieve a graph from a magical place. He studied it and then turned to me. “Peter,” he said solemnly, “you had a heart attack!” My reaction to that news was a big fat “NO”. I should have known or noticed something was going on in my chest. But I had no idea. Suddenly it made sense to me when I saw her a week later and she told me, there was something wrong with the ECG. She ordered a repeat test and said, everything is okay now. There was a glitch somewhere.
The doctor made a printout and showed me the irregularity. “Here it is”, he said and circled a few places, “this is a clear pattern. The computer tells me, you had a heart attack.” Actually, it said: “Probably old lateral myocardial infarction.”
He quickly ordered the “usual battery of tests” and wrote a script, with five repeats, for a spray under my tongue, I had an x-ray (good old Doctor Röntgen) and was told to come back in a weeks time. All the results should be in by then and he would write a report to the hospital where I will have my cystoscopy done. They want to be updated about any change in my medical condition.
With my five repeat prescriptions in hand, I have to live for a long time to use them all up.