Confessions of a Reluctant Patient
In May of 2018 I attended the KVH sponsored Stroke Panel at Hal Holmes. As I listened to the back and forth between the audience and the KVH experts I got to thinking about my own health history. I realized, sitting there contemplating my upcoming 57th birthday, that it had been years (and years) since I had been to the doctor.
Although I have spent almost three decades in community healthcare, like many other "insiders", I am a terrible patient. Despite having lived in Ellensburg for almost two years I did not have a primary care provider. I did not know my blood pressure or my cholesterol or blood sugar levels.
The list of my patient failings was long: no annual checkup in probably six years, no women’s health exam including pap, HPV and breast exam, no mammogram since I turned fifty almost seven years previously and never a colonoscopy. Back when the practices were all closed to new patients, I had handy excuse to duck the doctor but I knew better than most that those practices are open now.
List of reasons I avoided going to the doctor:
• I am active, in good health, have a great family history
• I am busy and I feel just fine.
• Besides, I work here! How uncomfortable is that? These are my friends, neighbors, family and co-workers. They might talk about me, make fun of me. They would see me in some percentage of naked and at the very least they would know how much I weigh. They might never look at me the same way again.
List of reasons to go to your doctor:
• Because it might save your health or even your life.
• Because it gives you the tools to improve your health and know (not just assume) that you are in good health.
• Because I have plans and people I want to spend many, many more years enjoying.
I cannot imagine a greater regret than denying myself time and adventures with my kids because I was too distracted or embarrassed to go to the doctor. How would I explain that I simply didn’t take advantage of the abundant talent and resources I am so proud to support in my daily job.
So here I am, months later with an armload of gratitude and a short story to tell.
• Thank you Carrie Barr for following up when I mentioned it at that Stroke Panel back in May. You got the ball rolling.
• Thank you Anita Schiltz for agreeing to be my Primary Care Provider. You laid everything out for me in a very sensible way and didn’t guilt me for being seven years late to my own healthcare. There was a little bit of guilt for eating like a toddler.
• Thank you to the lab for a painless blood draw and incredibly quick results.
• Thank you to the staff at KVH Internal Medicine who scheduled my colonoscopy and handed me off to Women’s Health and Mammography.
• Thank you to Rose Valencia in mammography. You made me so comfortable and are so very professional. You told me exactly what to expect and showed me my images right there on the screen.
• Thank you Yakima Valley Radiology and Dr. Stepanek for the quick results.
• Thank you to Dr. Feng’s MA, Nichole Tresedder, and Dr. Feng himself again for telling me exactly what to expect and why.
• Thank you to Dani Leigh in pre op for the appointment reminder and further instructions. Until you called I was procrastinating and floating around in denial.
• Thank you to pharmacy for filling my prescription even after I procrastinated for more than a month and right up to the last minute.
• Thank you to Anji Bryant and Kara Henderson, my OR nurses and Kayse Bruno my anesthesia nurse – especially Kayse because I don’t remember a thing. Well that is not quite true, I really love warm blankets.
• Thank you to Teresa Beckett, Whitney and Kimber for tying up all the loose ends.
Never once, not for one moment, did I feel uncomfortable. They didn’t laugh at me or talk about me. I don’t feel self-conscious when I see them in the hospital because this is what they do. These talented professionals trained and practiced and come to work every day to do this incredible work; the work of keeping people healthy.
So now I know that I am in good health and Anita confirmed that I really need to eat a vegetable every once in a while. I established care with people I trust with my health, my privacy and I got caught up on my preventative screening. I know that I am not guaranteed time and adventures with my kids but I am doing my part – no regrets.
Thank You All.
Julie Petersen, KVH CEO