I was having lunch with a few of my girlfriends recently when we got on the topic of going to the doctor. With cold and flu season in full swing, I have been to the doctor already three times for illnesses I’ve caught from my toddlers. Every time I have to make that phone call to schedule an appointment, I dread the process that is about to follow. It usually starts with me trying to concoct a reasonable explanation for why I self-diagnosed and administered medication to myself over the weekend. The real reason is always, “because the doctor’s office was closed…and good thing I did too because that was some killer infection.”
The way I see it, I did us both a favor by cracking down on the illness before it got worse. I just have a hard time telling Dr. Caswell that.
Much to my doctor’s chagrin, I rarely finish a full round of antibiotics. This is partly because I get well before I have taken all two weeks (or whatever it is) worth of pills, but also because I know that in the future I will need some amoxicillin in a pinch. I generally keep spare two pills for a snotty day when desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s when the Spanish Inquisition ensues.
Dr. Caswell asks me how I had the medication in the first place? Why didn’t I finish the previous round? How long and how much I gave myself? Did it help? All valid questions. It just gives me this feeling of overwhelming guilt. I am like a child being scolded as she jots down some scribbley handwritten explanation on my permanent record. WARNING: THIS GIRL NEVER FINISHES HER MEDICINE AS PRESCRIBED!
So I lie.
“Do you lie to your doctor?” I asked my girlfriends sitting around the table. Or, was I the only one?
“I am pretty open with my doctor,” responded my friend Jodi.
So I am a schmuck. Great.
“I lie to my doctor,” responded my friend Sarah.
Oooh, my hope is restored. I am not alone.
“I lie to my doctor,” responded my friend Gretchen.
My face lights up.
“I am avoiding my doctor altogether,” responded my friend Juls.
“Gyno or doctor?” I asked.
“Both.” The group agreed, depending on the situation at hand.
Ah hah! I knew I liked these women.
All but one of us at the table were lying deviants sitting there laughing. After more discussion, what came to light was the “why” behind the web of lies. That was even more intriguing.
Sarah started out by admitting that she downplayed how much she drank. You know that question on the medical history form where you have to say if you have a glass of alcohol socially, a couple a week or more? Her take on it was that any more than “a couple of drinks” could only end in further doctor questioning and unnecessary lecturing. The point was that she knew she didn’t have a problem but felt somehow that she’d be judged.
Gretchen said she began lying and skipping appointments when her doctor went through an unusual phase of only prescribing different varieties of teas every time she had an ailment. There was a tea for weight loss. There was a tea for headaches. There was a tea for building immunity.
“I’ve got nothing against alternate medicine, but if we’re going all holistic then just tell me,” she said. “It got to the point where I just changed physicians.” She lied and then broke up with her doctor. Double whammy.
My friend Juls felt so guilty about not having kept up with her weight program prescribed by the doctor several months ago that she was looking for a way out of seeing him again until she got thinner. My poor friend put it like this, “I am fat. But, I feel a sinus infection coming on! I am avoiding going to the doctor at all costs.”
Only sweet little Jodi told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Jodi began, “My doctor once asked me what I had for breakfast because she’d noticed that the weight on my chart from last visit was five to eight pounds less than the scale I’d just stepped off of.”
She answered the doctor truthfully, “For my first breakfast I had… And for the second, I had…” Then she paused. “I don’t lie. Although, I do tend to call the doctor’s office a week prior to my visit to find out what my weight was the last time I was there—just out of curiosity,” she added with a coy smile.
One in four women were honest with their doctor (according to my little study).
I had to process that for a moment. Why is it that we can strip down fully naked and expose the most vulnerable side of ourselves, but yet we feel the need to hide or lie about some of the most trivial things? It’s not that I am trying to impress anybody. But I always make sure I’ve shaved my legs (or anything else necessary) so I don’t repulse the doctor. I also worry that if I wear heels without stocking that day, my feet will stink when I have to slip off my shoes and stand on the scale. Does anyone else? It’s just common courtesy.
I had to remind myself. The doctor doesn’t care about your situation. You are a case to them. They are in and out of the examination room in 10 minutes tops and then you are no longer on their mind. Right? If that were true it would make me feel better.
Somehow, I still can’t help thinking that after hours when my doctor is hanging at a local bar sipping a martini with another doctor, they are swapping stories about all of us liars, smellies and fatties. Until I can get that thought out of my mind, I guess I’ll probably still lie.
Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent liars.
- Has your doctor ever talked to you about weight loss? (self.com)
- How to Get Your Doctor to Help You Stockpile Medicine, by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD (survivalblog.com)
- When Your Doctor Prescribes Weight Loss (webmd.com)