The Revised Normal

I called my brother yesterday, and left a message about Monday’s appointments, and I caught myself saying “the normal poking and prodding”. I realized how my perception of normal is different than most other human beings.

Growing up, I didn’t go to the hospital too often. There were a few emergency room visits, including one for a baseball to the head, but I chalk that up to being an active and energetic boy. Even in high school, my hopsital visits were limited to being an active athlete – a pulled muscle from soccer, and a concussion from being kicked in the head. I could even relate my two doctor visits in college to athletic events: when you play rugby, it should come as no surprise that there are bruises and broken bones.

After college is when normal started to change. A kidney stone or two, plus all the medical tests to determine that I had Ulcerative Colitis and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. I realize that not everyone has a relationship with their Gastroenterologist or could call the Department of Hepatobiliary and speak to the department head. My normal changed from entering a hospital for an emergency, to a yearly visit, to every 6 months, and now every 3 months. After surgery, it’ll be twice a week. I’ve been poked and prodded so many times that I have a hard time remembering what the procedure is for the MRI scan, the CT scan, the X-Ray, and the Ultrasound. The nurses assume since I’ve had these procedures many times I remember whether to put the johnny on from the front or the back, whether I can wear pants or not, and the fasting requirements. I have to kindly request they go through the instructions again to remind me of the drill.

I’m part of an exclusive hospital club, where I recognize nurses and anesthesiologists and they recognize me. I know how to pay for parking, I know where the squishy ice machine is, and I know the comfortable chairs and where the best mood lighting is. Do these perks offset all the poking and prodding? Not really, but I no longer stress about walking into a hospital – it’s all familiar and normal.

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