This is both a wonderful and a terrible thing, that I didn't go for 10 years.
It's wonderful because it means I've been very healthy. Despite having done a fair amount of unhealthy things, I haven't been (very) sick more than 2 consecutive days and I haven't required prescription medication since 1994. At least that's what my memory tells me. I find it hard to believe, but I can't recall any counter examples.
10 years I had to go to the health center at Michigan State. That was the last time I saw a doctor. I dragged myself from my dorm room and went to get some medication for what I thought was going to kill me. I got better.
Wait, that's not true. I went to the emergency room at Boulder Community Hospital about 2-3 years ago. I dropped a portafilter on my foot (for the non-baristas out there, a portafilter is a metal coffee filter basket with a weighted handle that you pack with grinds and lock in the espresso machine to pull shots). Portafilters are weighted, and they have pointy spouts on them (where the coffee comes out), but they are not what anyone except Mr. Burns would refer to as "heavy", nor would anyone but an infomercial writer refer to them as "sharp".
But for whatever karmic reason, the device bounced just-so off my foot while I was making one of my last skinny lattes of the night on my Sunday closing shift. I was the only employee in the store. Within an hour, I was limping. By the time I got done closing and got home, I had to crawl to my front door. My friend JZ drove me to the emergency room the next day (it's a worker's comp thing, that's what you have to do, go to the ER), where they told me I had a "contusion" and that basically, I shouldn't be such a wimp. A pretty nurse wheeled me out to JZ's car, and he said he wished he had a contusion too. In about two days, I managed to walk again.
(Aside: 2-3 years later, Boulder Community is still sending me a bill that says it's not a bill, for services that were paid for in full 2-3 years ago by worker's comp. They tracked me down in MA just to waste postage and paper on me. A real ode to efficiency.)
That doesn't count as sickness or visiting the doctor, though, in my opinion. So, 10 years.
Until yesterday. I'm not trying to build any drama here; in fact, I'll cut to how I feel right now, which is crappy. I feel like instead of visiting the doctor a few blocks away, I just finished a cross-country road trip with Mike Tyson, every waking second of which was occupied by me losing a game of "punch-buggy red" over, and over. In other words, my arm really hurts. This, they tell me, is what a tetanus shot does (take that, spell check!). That and make you better, somehow.
Part of the reason I have not visited the doctor in so long, apart from my lack of health insurance during the majority of that time period and my general healthiness, is my discomfort with the US medical establishment. My sister has a very long and ugly history with said establishment. Many of the many injuries she has suffered have actually been at the hands of doctors and nurses. She has a syndrome which includes brittle bones, so doctors and nurses regularly break her bones. Sometimes it's hard to prove that, but sometimes it's also hard to prove how else a person who can't walk suddenly develops a broken leg while in the hospital for treatment.
They have also put her basically in a multi-day coma as a result of not reading her chart (or listening to my mother) and noticing that little detail about anesthesia allergies.
Then there are the financial issues I encountered through her experience, like the fact that having rails on the side of a hospital bed so you don't fall out of bed costs a couple hundred dollars. Per day.
I now have a few friends that are doctors, and they are good people. That helps offset my lifelong negative impression of them (the doctors, not my friends). But, the experience is still a pretty negative one for me. Participating in the health insurance system here also makes me want to vomit if I think about it too long, but I don't know what the alternative is (other than not going to the doctor for 10 years). It is one of the reasons for my desire to live outside the United States eventually.
I'll be going back to the doctor. She agreed that as a vegan, the cholesterol test was probably unnecessary. But there are always people to see and samples to take and money to burn.
Punch buggy blue. Ow!