Monday, February 13, 2012

The Physical

by Ben Small

Having reached the ripe old age where I need a yearly physical, I find that I dread this ritual even more than a trip to the dentist's chair.

It's not the blood-letting I fear. One doesn't reach my age without learning to ignore the needle, even though my veins feel otherwise. They jump around and play hide and seek, usually resulting in frustration so intense, the needle-bearer stabs at one, hoping to get lucky. Sorta like the fisherman who can see his bass but can't get it to bite, so he ties on a treble hook and attempts to spike his fish onto the line.

You see, blood running down my arm doesn't bother me. Nor does the red tear-drop tattoo on the cheek of the needler. And I'm man enough to take lab results in stride. Good cholesterol bad, bad cholesterol worse, triglicerides -- whatever they are -- just awful.

Hell, nobody, 'cept Chester Campbell, lives forever or without pain.

So, it's not blood, the needle or lab results that cause me to dodge my yearly physical like Obama ducking budget cuts.

See, it's all about the finger. OMG, the finger.

Yes, women have their own crosses to bear, and I have no clue what indignities or pain they must endure on account of their gender and its plumbing. So I don't know what it must feel like to have my breasts squashed flat against a cold metal surface; my boobs are already flat. And I'm ignorant as to what doctor scopes or fingers a woman must endure in her goody-spot, or how those procedures must feel. That's all woman-stuff. Like child-birth. I just can't imagine what squeezing a watermelon through a keyhole must feel like.

But I know the finger. I get it each year. And every year, my doc's poker feels fatter and longer.

I realize prostate cancer is serious, that for most men it's just a matter of time, but I also know there are blood tests for that, the results of which show up in my lab reports.

So why the finger?

I have two theories on this:

a) My doc enjoys inflicting pain, likes the notion that I won't be sitting for a few days; or

b) My doc spent time in prison.

As to the first, credibility comes from the way he sticks his hand in an ice-bucket before he starts and because he uses Elmer's Glue-All instead of Vaseline. My fine legal training instructs me that these acts constitute intention to do harm.

As to the second, my doc attended Penn State, played football, and has a hand-made corbra tattoo coiled around his neck. I think these are indicators, but I don't know for sure. Every time I ask if he knows Jerry Sandusky, he cites the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

I'd go to a different doc, but I can't find one who will take me: I'm eligible for Medicare soon. Besides, I like that this one gives me whatever meds I want without question. Oxycotin's not addictive, is it? Or Vicodin or Percodan? My doc says, "Hey, don't worry about 'em."

So I don't. After all, he's a professional: He must know best. I get 'em by the crate. Yee haw. I saw a unicorn yesterday, and my dog speaks French.

But still, there's the finger. Always the finger.

And how do I know what he's doing back there? I can't see; no eyes in the back of my head...most times. But it worries me a bit when my doc hangs a Do Not Disturb sign on the back side of the door. And it's questionable why he thrusts and grunts during the procedure. Is this part of the physical supposed to take fifteen minutes? Can the prostate be that hard to find?

The first time he probed me, I questioned my doc's credentials. He assured me his degree came in the mail and said if I had further questions or refused to bend over, I could find another doctor. That Medicare thing again, even though at the time Medicare was years ahead for me.

I dodged my last appointment using the toothache excuse. I told his nurse assistant I wouldn't be able to bite down on the rawhide stick he gives me. She wasn't buying that excuse, claiming she had no idea what I meant, and only agreed to re-schedule when I told her the appointments overlapped and the dentist  scheduled me first. I got a lecture, but I got the reprieve.

My next scheduled appointment is this week. I doubt they'll buy the toothache or overlapping appointment excuse again, so I'm planning a car wreck. My Tahoe is ten years old and has run over a hundred forty-eight thousand miles, so I could use a new car. Granted, a car wreck alone probably won't do the trick. Cabs, you know. So, I'll strap a rock to the gas pedal, and shift gears as I exit, let the car roll into a rock at high speed. Then I'll roll around in the dust and scuff myself up before I call 911. An overnight stay for "observation" should do the trick. The appointment is for 8:00 A.M., and our local hospital doesn't release patients before 10:00.

So while I'm good this week, I'll be in the market for a new, credible excuse next week. If you have suggestions, please pass them along.

I'll do or pay most anything to avoid that probe.


Earl Staggs said...

You struck close to home with this, Ben. I feel the same as you. Seems to me, before the doc does the finger thing, he should take you to dinner first.

Jaden Terrell said...

Cringeworthy stuff, Ben, but very, very funny.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Having had TWO medical appointments yesterday, I fully appreciate what you experienced, Ben. And to think we PAY for this humiliation just so the doctor can say, "You're fine."