Health maintenance wasn’t an expression heard much around my house while I was growing up. If you fell and your arm or leg was bent the wrong way, it was okay to go to the doctor. Otherwise, buck up and don’t be a crybaby. Today we’re encouraged to see our doctors often, at my age (fifty-nine) once a year. I’m not fond of the humiliation that goes with a routine physical and don’t get them as regularly as I should. I would probably avoid them completely but doctors get you all hopped up on prescription drugs and then cut you off if you don’t pay them a visit every few months.
Confession: I like my doctor, which helps considering the up close and personal things he does to me, but an appointment with him renders me so uptight that if I had a chunk of carbon up my ass I could squeeze it into a diamond by the time the physical was over.
Last week before my physical, the doctor’s assistant came into the windowless room where I was being held hostage. She asked a bunch of questions and took my blood pressure. She ordered me onto the scale and I climbed onto the platform and closed my eyes.
Mind you, I’ve done everything I can think of to weigh as little as possible, except follow a healthy diet and exercise. I read somewhere that Charles Lindbergh trimmed the edges off his map to cut down on weight for his transatlantic crossing; in this vein, I’m wearing shorts ( even though it’s raining outside) no underwear, no shoes or sox, my pockets have been emptied of my wallet, change, car keys and breath mints, and I’ve slipped off my watch and wedding band. The metal bar on the scale rattles and clinks as she pushes it around, back and forth, until finally she scribbles something onto my chart.
“Remove all of your clothing and put this on. Leave it open in the back,” she said, handing me a paper gown before stepping out of the room. “The doctor will be with you shortly.”
Her instructions about leaving it open in the back proved unnecessary. The gown might have closed around a jockey or one of those female Chinese gymnasts, but the only way it would close around my behemoth backside would be by taping more of them together. My bare feet dangled in the air while I sat on the examining table, dressed in a backless paper dress with tissue paper sticking to my sweaty ass. As I waited, I wondered if doctors hired cute assistants for the sole purpose of making guys like me feel self-conscious.
I’d been ordered not to eat anything because they wanted a sample of fasting blood, even though they couldn’t get me in to see the doctor until just before noon. I was hungry and grumpy enough to bite someone. I was kept waiting so long that I started salivating over the jar of rectal cream on the counter near the sink. Used for prostate exams, it was starting to look like vanilla pudding.
The doctor finally arrived and we shook hands. Lucky for me, his hands were warm. “So what brings you in today?” he asked.
I tried to sound as gruff as I could, sitting on a table in a paper gown with my ass hanging out. “I got a call from you refusing to renew my prescriptions unless I came in.”
He checked his chart. “It’s been three years since you’ve been in to see us. That’s too long between checkups for a man your age.”
I’d prepared a glib comment to explain my weight gain, but he surprised me by saying, “I see you weigh the same as you did at your last physical.”
I was surprised. This wasn’t going to be as bad as I’d thought.
“Before we get to the physical, is anything bothering you that we should talk about?”
“Well, I have this raisin-sized white mark on my forehead.”
He pulled out a magnifying glass and examined it. “Does it hurt?”
“No, but I’m worried it’s that disease that started on Michael Jackson’s penis, spread to his face and turned him white.”
“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a harmless discoloration. But speaking of your penis, lie back and let me take a look at yours.”
Just like that; I’m getting groped like I’m in Cell Block C! Bad enough but he wanted to chat while he fondled my skin pickle and squeezed my man berries. “Are you sexually active?” he asked.
“Not at this moment.”
“Seriously? I like to think the answer is yes, but I guess it depends on who you ask. Mrs. Chatterbox might give you a different answer.”
“I’m putting down a yes,” he said. He tested my reflexes with a rubber hammer and tickled the bottoms of my feet, and just when I was starting to relax, and unclench, he told me to stand up, lean against the examination table and bend over. As I complied, I heard latex gloves being snapped on and the lid being twisted off the vanilla pudding jar.
Before I could think of a quick quip, I felt a finger cruising up the onramp to my prostate. “Are you taking your Glimepiride and Allopurinol?” he asked, perhaps trying to make me forget that his finger was swimming up my butt like a seal looking for a salmon dinner. He was referring to two of the numerous medications I take, but at the moment they sounded like those ill-tempered dinosaurs chasing everyone around Jurassic Park. I managed a nod.
He finished up. “Lose some weight and watch your blood sugar,” he said. “And we’ll see you here next year. I’m sending you to the lab so they can take blood and urine samples.”
My stomach growled. Before he left I had one last question. “Doctor?”
“Does the cream in that jar taste like vanilla pudding?”