By: Mary Fran Bontempo

To hear an audio version of this post click the play arrow below.

MP900401793I love fall. It’s such a beautiful season for all of the obvious reasons. Just driving down the road, looking at the riot of nature’s beauty puts me in a good mood.

Which I desperately need, as I am probably driving to the gynecologist. Or the dentist, or the ophthalmologist or my primary doctor.

Fall is my maintenance season, the time I schedule my annual inspections, much like I do with my car, but a lot more complicated.

For one thing, this is no one-stop lube job. Maintaining this crumbling machine involves multiple service technicians, also known as really expensive doctors, who, after they’re done giving me the once-over, frequently send me off with a slip of paper that will involve more waiting rooms, more paper gowns, more time huffing at my watch and more money.

Just this morning, I sat shivering in my gynecologist’s office wrapped in paper (and for god’s sake, will someone please turn on the heat? I’m wearing paper!) waiting for that most humiliating of all female examinations. After a catch-up conversation about kids and families (my mother used to work for my doctor–very weird), we chatted about his practice’s move to electronic medical records and other inane subjects as he did what he had to do. (For the record, there are no stranger conversations than those you’ll have lying on one of those tables trying not to think about what’s going on.)

Tomorrow, lucky me, I’ll drive to a testing center for my mammogram, quite possibly the only thing worse than the gynecologist. Last week, it was the ophthalmologist, considerably less embarrassing, but still an unwelcome addition to my calendar. Next week it’s the primary doctor, two weeks from now it’s the dentist and this year, I’ve added the grand prize, a colonoscopy, which I haven’t scheduled yet, but will probably try and fit in before the holidays as an early Christmas present to myself.

The good news is that I’m healthy. The bad news is that if it’s this much work when I’m healthy, what happens when I get older and stuff starts to disintegrate? Isn’t there a way we could do this like a car inspection and check ourselves into a garage for humans once a year? We’d get dropped off early in the morning, then go from service bay to service bay, have our tires rotated, get scoped and scrubbed and be ready for pick-up, all shiny and new (looking) by five.

No more scheduling multiple appointments weeks in advance. No more waiting in the big room then waiting more in the little one. Blood work, mammograms, pee-pee tests all done in one place at one time. Oh, and let’s invent a human version of those diagnostic computers they use on cars so you get results immediately and don’t have to hold your breath for two weeks waiting for that damn letter telling you your boobs are fine, see you next year! We could even get a sticker slapped on our backs certifying that we’ve passed inspection and marked with the month we’re due for our annual maintenance the next year.

Of course, I could stagger the appointments throughout the year or do everything in the winter, when I’m already miserable. But the thought of dealing with this nonsense all year long or having to reschedule already dreaded appointments due to snow makes me cringe.

So I’ll make the rounds to be sure my parts are in working order and pray that the pretty leaves last for a while to offer a pleasant distraction. At least until my colonoscopy.

What’s your take on never-ending doctor visits? Click “comments” below and share!