Monday afternoon, I had a doctor’s appointment.
Just a routine appointment, that had been set last time I was in, because she’s changed one of my meds.
This is a place that does also have therapists, and does do sliding scale on both… which was why I’d chosen it, so that if I do need that when off insurance, I wouldn’t have to start over with a new doc.
So they hand me the usual form.. a checksheet on symptoms… and there is another form with it.
The second form was mostly drug and alcohol questions… but a lot of them were phrased weird.
One that threw me off a bit was the question “How many times in the last year have you had one or more alcoholic beverages in a day?”
Year? I have no clue for a year…
So, I figured, maybe twice a month of so generally… 12 months in a year… so I put “24?”
Handed the clipboard back in.
After a bit, someone calls my name. It’s not one of the three nurses I’m used to seeing with this particular doc, but I figure maybe one of them is out and one of the nurses from the other docs is filling in.
But, instead of going to the end of the hall, she takes me to a different room.
She introduces herself as a therapist, and says she has some questions for me.
This seemed a bit unusual, but then, given that I’m back on meds that treat anxiety and depression, not too far odd.
She gets her paperwork… and starts with the first question…
“How many times in the past month have you had 6 drinks or more?”
It was so far from what I expected that my first response was to crack up laughing before answering “None.”
The next couple of questions were more of the same… things like how often have I missed work due to drinking the night before.
Suddenly it hit me… “Was that question on the form supposed to be month, not year? I put 24 thinking year… not month… I thought that’s what it said. Is that why I’m in here?”
She confirmed it had been year… and that the question was why I was in here.. but when I asked what answer would have been low enough, she wouldn’t tell me.
So we continue on.
Now, to get the full effect, you have to realize, that because of a med change towards the end of June to a different med, one that has a “Do not drink while taking this med” warning on it, I actually hadn’t had any alcohol in over a month.
May and June had been months where my numbers would have been abnormally high for me, given the emotional state… but all of these questions were about the last month.
So every last answer was zero.
At one point I pointed out that I was on a med that had a no drinking warning, as computer should show… but still we went on…even though both of us were well aware that this was pointless.
So we get to the end of her pages of questions… and she admits that she sees no problem with my current level of drinking.
Gee, I should hope not… given that the level was zero.. lol
She then goes on to tell me that they do have short term behavior change programs if I should ever need it, and to just call and ask them to set an appointment with her.
I asked her why having a drink 2 days a month on average is something that would get me called back, as that seems like a normal number to me… and she dodged the question a bit, and then eventually mentioned something about my reported family history having an impact.
So because someone who shares part of my genetics was a mess, I’m under suspicion?
I dropped the topic, and she took me back to the usual doctor area… but the more the afternoon went on, the more I’m not sure that I should have.
Yes, I get it… there is a link that addictions tend to run in families, whether by nature or nurture.
But there’s still a lot to be said about taking responsibility, and making a deliberate choice towards choosing responsible decisions.
I do drink sometimes. Not that often, but sometimes.
But usually it’s a single drink… and generally two max.
I don’t drive within several hours after that drink.
I do go out with friends to bars sometimes, and I’m perfectly comfortable with being the totally sober one shaking my head at the tipsy behavior of others. I feel no pressure to do likewise, and it’s rare that anyone even says anything encouraging me to do otherwise.
I know I have risk factors, and I do use a degree of caution.
But I don’t see a point in having a fear of it… in avoiding contact with alcohol completely.. in treating it like a monster.
Like a gun, or even a car, it does have the potential to be damaging if not treated seriously… but there is a place of proper responsible behavior choices that it can also be used safely.
I feel a bit offended and insulted, like I’ve been judged by the bad choices of another rather than my own, very different, choices.
A friend pointed out that maybe it wasn’t really aimed at offering services to me, but to have me go “oh, actually, ya know, I know someone in my family that could really use that… maybe I can get them to call and make an appointment..”
And yes, I wasn’t aware of their addictions specialist before then, and I am now should I know someone needing to talk to someone about it, so I guess it was effective on that.
Even so… that’s a very misguided way of going about it.
Another friend pointed out that it may be something they were required to do by the government or something even though they know it makes no sense to them.
She may be closer to right on that one. Like I said, this place does do sliding scale for both medical and therapy, so it’s likely that they have some sort of grants helping pay for those services.
Either way… it still bugs me.