Scan Me..Scan Me Not

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Someone shoved a flyer for cash-on-the-barrelhead body scans through my mail slot this week. This is worse than getting one of those chain letters that hints you might be in for bad luck if you don’t immediately pass it on to three or four hundred of your dearest friends. Frankly, I don’t need the anxiety.

This particular company is offering body scan technology in a couple of American border cities. If you don’t want to wait for the Canadian health care system to get its act together (or of you’d simply like to play doctor yourself) you can nip down to a room they’ve rented in some low-rise hotel, just below the border, and have them take a peek at everything from your aorta to your pelvis..and all points between.

They also offer packages, just like those you might get at a drive- in lube shop. The Heart and Stroke Scan package will save you about  $70 off the price of having the individual modules scoped separately. The full body scan package goes for about $500.

I have more than a couple of problems with this. First of all, I’m just enough of a hypochondriac that if I started down that perilous body scan road, I might never get off. I’m the kind of person who would be constantly scanning himself while sitting on the couch at home if I had some kind of Black & Decker plug-in unit.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=body+scans&iid=45210″ src=”0043/d260164b-55b2-47da-8454-9caeaa49b33b.jpg?adImageId=10725332&imageId=45210″ width=”234″ height=”293″ /]In many ways it’s better if I don’t know. I don’t want to know about every little bump and lump and lesion that exists within my fleshy realm. I realize that any one of those, at any time, can rise up and do me in. But I don’t want to fret myself into a lather. I think I can safely say that the most stressful moments of my medical existence have been while waiting for the results of some sort of scan. A doctor sees or feels something slightly different, sends you for the scan..and you sit tightly clenched for a few days while amending your last will and testament. It’s a killer!

I always try to get a subliminal signal from the scanner technologist. They have good poker faces. In fact, it’s a job requirement. The last thing you want is someone who sucks in a quick breath and grimaces while they’re watching the screen during your scan. Sometimes, though, I think I can detect something..maybe just a hesitation..a little extra effort they’re making while working that wand over the body. And, of course, I start to build that into a big issue. I’m convinced that they’ve found something they didn’t like. One time I had a technologist actually leave the room in the middle of the procedure. She eventually returned with a colleague and then they both took off, leaving me there to do a series of mental back flips. When I asked about it later one of them said the other one was only a trainee who needed guidance. A trainee!!!  When I’m flat on my back imagining that long walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I want someone who isn’t studying the manual on their lunch break. You can see why those of us with overactive imaginations and glass half-empty temperaments are not at all scan-friendly.

Take the manual home!

It’s really a question of how much information is too much information, isn’t it?  None of us wants to be blindsided. You want to be smart about your health. But, hell, if we knew what the law of averages meant for most of us we’d be cutting our losses about ten minutes after birth. “Mrs. Gerry, you have a beautiful baby boy. Mind if we take the wisdom teeth, the appendix and the prostate out while we’ve got him here? “

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