Published on January 6th, 2017 | by Richard Black


Goin’ to the Doctor

A cattle prod and gloves. Two more reasons why I don’t like to go to the doctor.

After two days of hacking and coughing and more than a little whining my wife Laura finally managed to prod me into seeing a doctor.

Like most men my age I don’t enjoy going to the doctor. If I wanted to be told that everything I’m doing is wrong with my life I’d visit my mother more often.

My issue with seeing the doctor, like most men, is that I never receive news I’d like to hear. Despite over twenty years of annual physicals and various other visits Dr. Bringmedown has never said something like “For a man you’re age you’re entirely too healthy. Have you thought about smoking? Those triglycerides are also dangerously low and I think you need to consider drinking more.”

Instead the doc lays out one massive mundane nag that involves a lot of acronyms and terms I don’t completely understand. My LDLs are too high and my HDLs are too low. I don’t have enough THC in my blood and my free radicals are alarmingly high despite the fact that I haven’t listened to that band in a good ten years.

To make matters worse I have yet to come down with anything fatal which, for the record, would be slightly more tolerable than the annual advice to eat more fiber or have a colonoscopy. Just once I’d like to get some really bad news from my internist.

“Mr. Black I think you’d better sit down,” Doctor Bringmedown would say somberly.

“Give it to me straight doc,” I’d respond.

“You’ve got super cancer.”

“Fuck I knew it,” I’d say resigned to my fate, “How long do I have left?”

“It’s too soon to tell. In order to be certain we’re going to have to do a biopsy through your eye. Here’s a belt to bite down on. The nurse will be with you shortly.”

“I’m ready whenever she is,” I’d say stoically and wait for the nurse to dig out a tissue sample with a rusty shiv, “just let me take a chew and a shot of Wild Turkey before she starts.”

Call me crazy but I’ll bet that being in an Iron Lung is pretty relaxing.

Every time this conversation doesn’t takes place a part of me is somewhat relived but another part of me is slightly disappointed.

To be honest the condition doesn’t even have to be terminal. I’d cheerfully be diagnosed with something that would maim me or give me a few scars to show the world and my wife how remarkably rugged and tough I think I am.

To date of course this hasn’t happened. It hasn’t over the past twenty years and it certainly didn’t during my most recent visit.

After a few minutes in the waiting room as my lungs sounded like a rusty diesel engine I’d convinced myself that I had double pneumonia at best and perhaps an advanced case of tuberculosis at worst.

“Wow your throat isn’t even all that red,” the doctor said after giving me a once over.

“Are you sure?” I asked , “I cough every thirty seconds. I feel like John Candy’s corpse is sitting on my chest?”

“That’s symptomatic for this sort of thing,” Doctor Bringmedown said with a perfect balance of condescension and understanding.

“SARS?” I asked.

“This isn’t even influenza,” he said, chuckled, and went on to mention that the drainage from my sinuses was causing me to gag and wheeze like an 87 year old man whose been smoking for 85 years. I also discovered that my fever, the one that I was certain that ran at 104 degrees but was to weak to check, had more than likely never risen above 100 and the aches in my joints were probably not some sort of autoimmune disorder heralding my imminent demise.

“So you’re telling me that I’m just a pussy,” I clarified.

“No, no not at all,” Dr. Bringmedown said over his iPad, “I don’t like to use that word. The fact is that disease effects everyone differently and the older you get the tougher these things are for your body.”

I was going to tell the doctor that I hoped he died in a car crash but I was overwhelmed by a massive fit of gut busting coughs. Doctor Bringmedown offered me an inhaler, said something about rest and fluids, and then showed me the door to the hall at which point I became quite lost.

A few minutes later a member of his staff found me wandering around the office and desperately looking for an exit. Dr. Bringmedown found me a few minutes later and, after giving me the sort of kindly look one reserves for truly special people, pointed me towards the elevator and suggested that I read the instructions on the inhaler.

“Be sure to pull the end cap off before you use it,” he said with a note of slight concern, “lot’s of people forget that part.”

I left with as much dignity as I could muster but not before I tripped over my own feet. In hindsight it was the perfect way to end the visit. In addition to coming across as a man with the pain tolerance of a two year old I’d managed to inadvertently convince my internist that I was suffering from early onset dementia and perhaps even Parkinsons to boot.

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