By Wayne William Cipriano
My Cousin Billy is about as health conscious as the rest of us. That is to say that as long as he is vertical and fairly certain his heart is beating, he absolutely refuses to visit his doctor. He talks about the inconvenience of going the distance and hassle of driving, the impossibility of scheduling an appointment at a decent time of the day, the danger of catching something from the other patients who are there “for something really serious,” the unspoken fear we all have that we may be told something we do not want to hear concerning our health, and of course, the cost.
I am not sure how Cousin Billy ranks those reasons for avoiding a medical visit, but over the years they all joined to keep him away.
I do not know why familial pressure, new girl friend, the movie Contagion, but he did finally go for a checkup. He got a convenient appointment, had no trouble with traffic was alone in the waiting room, and was not charged for the visit as the doctor is a friend of his. As he was leaving, the doc suggested Cousin Billy might want to arrange for a colonoscopic examination one of these days, “just to be on the safe side.”
When we next spoke I heard the story of the visit and the suggestion he received. “Well,” I said, “what are you waiting for?” Cousin Billy trotted out all the reasons he previously used to avoid a health visit in the first place, and I dispatched each one handily. Since there cannot be much desire for colonoscopies among patients I reasoned, you will be able to schedule a convenient appointment time. I argued you could leave for your appointment as early as you wish and avoid any potential traffic problems even in the smallish city in which you live. I said I do not think there is any malady specific to such examinations that you could catch from another patient there. And, I opined you could balance the vague possibility of bad news against the real danger of ignoring a serious problem that could be detected early, dealt with promptly.
I could tell by his weakening arguments that I was making headway and just about had him convinced to go if only the question of cost could be resolved. We began brainstorming as to how he could manage the price of the procedure on his supposedly “meager” resources. We came up with several plans but he rejected each; he was, however, helping to envision a way to get this done.
“Hey,” shouted Cousin Billy into the phone. “I’ve got it! I will buy an airline ticket to visit my sister. Doesn’t Homeland Security give colonoscopies for free at the airport?”