I don't know if I've mentioned this enough times, but my boyfriend, Dr. Jon, is a doctor. Alright, so he's a PhD, Doctor of History, which isn't going to help anyone going into labour on an airplane, but still, a doctor! He is not nearly as proud of this as I am. I take credit for his title even though I had nothing to do with it. I'll tell you, if I had gone to school (not just bullshit school but university school) for ten years, I'd be a dick about letting people know it. All the time. Constantly. For instance, if I were in line at McDonald's and the guy behind the counter said, “What can I get for you, man?” I'd say, “Well I am a Doctor so I guess I'll have a cheeseburger.” And get this: Jon is so humble, so utterly disinterested in his own status that, when filling out forms for things like insurance or change of address, he checks the Mister box, not the Doctor box! Are you fucking kidding me? By comparison, if I'm walking downtown and sneak into a U of T building to use the bathroom, I tell people later that I did some post-graduate work.
Dr. Jon has checked the Mister box a lot lately, both changing his insurance and address thanks to a new job three provinces over that necessitated a move last month. Our time apart has been hard, but we've barely had time to miss each other because I went to visit him over the Labour Day long weekend. He's doing so great. His apartment is fancy, his proximity to the university and cool shopping and restaurants enviable, AND he's allowed pets in his building so we might have to get a fucking cat (more on that another day). As the common-law spouse of this Doctor Professor, I am entitled to reap the benefits of his benefits, as was the case with his last job, too. Only his last job had us both in the same province, but this year we are apart. This means, until we live together again (sometime next fall), I am not covered. Because my odd jobs keep me on part time hours, I have no bennies there either (sometimes I call benefits “bennies” because it's a cute way to take the sting out of the fact that I have no compensation should I become injured or sick). Thus leading to my new Dream.
Dream: Survive without medical care for a year.
Goal: Achievable, with neuroses. I'm embarrassed to say that I never go to a doctor or dentist and take the fact that I wake up every morning as evidence that I am in tip-top physical condition. So what's another year of blissful ignorance?
Plan: Rely on Gravol, Nyquil, and occasional vegetables to maintain health and avoid interaction with doctors (medical ones, the for real kind).
It's not that I'm afraid of doctors, I just don't need to sit in a room with sick people for two hours so some guy can cup my balls. I can do that at home! I don't have a GP here in Ontario and I didn't have one in the years after I moved out of my parents' house and across Saskatchewan. I always had one as a child and a teen, but he was such an odd duck. A Duckter, if you will. His last name was something Eastern European and apparently too hard to pronounce, so he made all of his patients, children and adults alike, call him Dr. then his first name. Dr. Steve, we'll say. That always seemed a touch “first thought” to me; something a sexual deviant might come up with to lure you into his dungeon. “It's alright, you can disrobe in front of me, I'm Dr.... Steve.” Plus, Dr. Steve always breathed audibly, which shouldn't have mattered, but it was like being diagnosed by a bored teenage girl. “So, anyway, (siiiigh), it looks like strep throat (siiiiigh).”
Plus, I was lucky as a young person not to have any significant maladies. So when I started living on my own, I'd do what I think a lot of people my age do, which is to wait until something is impossible to ignore, medically, then go to the free clinic. And I know free clinics aren't wholly free, they require some kind of subsidy to stay afloat, but doesn't it seem like free clinics staff unpaid doctors? These people just don't give a shit, do they? I once went in with a swollen eye that I assumed (correctly, as it turns out) was a stye, but I wasn't sure, so when I asked the doctor what she thought I might have she said, “Well it's your eye!” I wish I was kidding, but that's what she actually said. She prescribed stye medication with the same pissed-off apathy, like she always wanted to be a doctor on Broadway, but here she was, unappreciated and devalued, swabbing eyeballs in Saskatoon.
When my grandfather died, a review of his medical history suggested he may have suffered from some syndrome, some hereditary condition which may have contributed to his deteriorating health. My father was advised to get tested for it, as was my brother, as was I. Testing for this syndrome required a return visit to Dr. Steve, who was horrified when I told him about my half-assed approach to healthfulness: rare visits to free clinics. “A terrible substitute for medical care (siiiigh)!! You need to find a proper doctor immediately!”
Well, tests showed my father, brother and me did not and would not get this obscure ailment, and not to worry about it. And worry I haven't. Aside from a weird neck rash that required a fifteen minute pop in to another free clinic, I haven't been to a doctor here in the Big City. And I doubt I will go now, when the outcome might require a prescription for which I am not covered. Besides, I'm a generally healthy guy who eats his greens (sometimes), drinks lots of water, and sleeps nearly twenty hours a day. Plus, it's only a year, I continually rationalize, until I am surrounded by Doctors, both PhD and real, to shower me with so much love it'll make me sick.