My car’s check engine light comes on every time I insert my key into the ignition these days; the car chimes, blocking the usual information window with the message above, sending my brain calendaring app into overdrive. When will I be able to get the damn car out to the valley? All I need is an oil change and a tire rotation and they are open early in the mornings. But mornings are tough and pretty unpredictable these days. A good day finds me at the gym at 5:30 or 6:15. A bad day, as defined by one that follows an interrupted night, finds me dragging and lagging. The last thing I would want to do on one of those days would be to wait at the Honda Dealer in North Hollywood, though with their lounge’s recent face lift, is a pretty spiffy spot.
Wouldn’t it be great if our bodies had check engine lights or whatever the anatomic version of that would be? Hmmm. Site-specific flashers across your chest that it’s time for your mammogram, reminiscent of the San Francisco North Beach Condor Club where stripper Carol Doda performed all through the 70s and 80s.
Is the garish neon sign with the flashing nipples still there? Or a victim of the neo-technocracy that has rendered San Francisco quite a different spot? But I digress.
As our cars/bodies get older, they require frequent, much more expensive trips to mechanics/doctors. The diagnostic tools that determine what’s gone wrong in the older models are more invasive. There’s no clearly printed digital code indicating what the underlying issue is. Sometimes you have to drain the oil pan and replace the oil. Sometimes you have a larger system failure that requires significant intervention. I’ve gotten expert at keeping the issues separate when reporting to the mechanics in the past week or so.
Don’t bury the lead.
That’s what my journalist mom would have said. I used to feel bad when the doctors looked to me rather than Jimmie for his medical information. I don’t anymore. I recognize that time is important. I can deliver the Cliff Notes of the current medical crisis in a crisp three sentences. He can fill in the details and answer their specific questions. I have learned to take notes when the mechanic, er, I mean Doctor tells us what’s wrong. Along with the extensive weight/sugar/output auto-logs we are keeping, I have developed a causal narrative that I think is more or less accurate. The latest information each doctor delivers informs and sculpts that narrative. I hope that if my “engine light” ever comes on in a significant way, that I have someone with me who can quickly give the shorthand of my story to my doctor. It’s hard to listen and process the information they give you when you feel like doo doo.
A wise person wrote or said that in medical issues, it’s wise not to get ahead of yourself. Don’t buy the next phase of medical gear until it’s needed. Don’t make decisions until they ask to be made. The same could be said about care for your car. Don’t change the oil more frequently than 3,000-5,000 miles just because you think it will be good for your car. You wouldn’t replace a headlamp in your car while it was still working, right?
The medical profession protects us somewhat by requiring referrals before doing more tests. The insurance companies protect us from doing unnecessary investigations by requiring second opinions for really expensive treatments. The lounges in the doctors’ offices are almost as nice as the Honda Dealer’s in North Hollywood.
On another note, I want to say thank you to all of the friends who have been reading my blog and sending us their support and love via phone calls, emails and hallway confabs. I can’t tell you how much it means to both of us. Don’t worry. We’ll soon be out of the service bay and back on the road. Having your attention and love along has made the wait much easier.