I woke up with a more than average amount of dread in my heart on Thursday morning. It was no mystery why. I knew exactly why. After my half day at work, instead of strutting my way from table to table full of free samples at Costco, or going home and re-watching the second season of “The Office” because that is the only season I own, I knew that I had to go to the doctor’s office to get my first physical examination since I was twelve or thirteen years old.
I HATE, like legitimately fucking …….hate going to the hospital. And it’s not for reasons that most people do. I don’t mind the copious amount of sick people, or the needles, or the odd amount of weird looking medical equipment just kinda hanging around in the hallways, or the tubes of blood, or the huge amount of elderly people who look like they are falling apart in the waiting rooms, connected to their portable air, which is actually just an oxygen tank on a hand truck, and are waiting for a doctor to either put them back together or put them out of there misery, or the TV’s that show nothing but soaps and talk shows with commercials for drugs that will help you evade death for another week or so, or the shelf in the bathroom whose sole purpose for existing is to hold cups of piss, that’s fine. That’s all good and dandy. That shit, I can handle.
What kills me is the shroud of despair and frustratingly irksome feelings that hit me, and maybe, everyone else that enters a hospital. It’s like being in the bowels of the Queen Mary, or spending the night in an abandoned mental hospital (*I assume*). Joy and happiness cannot survive in a hospital. So many terrible, sad, frightening, disgusting events happen there, and so many people have died in these buildings that the best the staff can do is hope that the agony and sorrow will wash away clean along with the blood and bile. It doesn’t.
Even if you have just been declared cancer-free, that party doesn’t start until you are at home, watching the episode where Michael is handing out the Dundee awards at Chill’s.
But none of that can matter now. It has been a decade, and I think I should make sure that I’m not going to die soon. And since my health insurance was re-instated at the beginning of the year, I should take advantage of that. Thanks Obama.
After my half day at work, I go home quickly, and take another shower. My appointment is at 1:30p.m, but I spend all morning running around after and avoid smacking the shit out of children. And since I am going to be rather close, and rather undressed, in semi-public, I figured a freshening up was in order.
I got dressed, kissed a rosary, and headed for the hospital.
I can only say that I was lucky when I got to the hospital check in area because, much to my disbelief, the waiting room was empty. I didn’t have to sit and watch other people’s misery and feel like shit because I dare to call the crap in my life ‘misery’. I was ecstatic until the mystical medical forces that be quelled that feeling. I checked in and had a seat. I only waited about five minutes to be called by a nurse, during which I caught up on a distastefully out of date Time magazine that was explaining the wonders and possible uses and limitations of this thing called ‘The Internet”. When the nurse did call me, I felt as if I had actually forgotten some stuff about computers.
I was weighed on a balance scale, then sat down at the nurse’s station. Temperature was taken by simply rolling a device on my head (*which tells me that technology is awesome*), and my blood pressure was taken by that pad that gets really REALLY tight around my arm (*which tells me that I’m a pussy*). I was then taken to an exam room, and told to wait on the reclining bed with the paper cover. The door shut, and I was left to wait.
This is the absolute worst part of going to the doctor’s office. To me anyhow. I am left alone in the exam room, waiting an undetermined amount of time for the doctor to burst in, popping the sterile little bubble I’ve been left in. But until that moment comes, I have to listen to every nurse talking outside about other patients. I have to listen to dreadfully sick people cough out their lungs. I have to listen to children cry, fucking scream, because of broken bones or needle points. I think it’s biology that makes kids cry louder at the doctor’s office. They suck in all the ‘clean’ air, and wail like they just saw their mother’s get in a fiery car wreck with Santa Claus. I listen to all this while reading the fliers in my room that inform me of what seems to be every possible way I can die.
I conclude that I have distract myself until the doctor comes. There is a computer in the room. I thought to myself that I could check my Facebook, but then realized that that would be very ‘high school’ and pathetic of me. Besides, the computer needed a log-in password. So, while sitting on the edge of the cushy bench, feet dangling like I was a little boy riding the bus, I did the first thing that came naturally. I started to sing “Freebird”.
A few verses in, I heard some nurses laughing outside. For a moment, I thought “Are they laughing at me? Those bitches!” But then it occurred to me that they could just be laughing at something else. I’ve spent my fair share of time at nurses’ stations on behalf of other people. They are some gabby, gossipy folks. Besides, I wasn’t even sure that they could hear me. Then I remembered all the wailing kids and the bronchial patients. They could totally hear me. Bitches.
About halfway through the solo (*yes, I ‘sang’ the solo*), POP! The door opens loudly, and the doctor comes in. A pleasant Swedish woman with a thick accent. She takes one look at me and looks somewhat startled.
“Oh! Vould you please holdon a mooooo-ment?” she asked me, like I had a choice. I said sure.
She walks out and asks the nurse something. The nurse responds. The doctor says something else. The nurse responds cautiously. The doctor says something back slightly accusatory, but not in any way deeming. The nurse responds quizzically. The doctor says something in a very matter of fact tone of voice. The nurse responds but sounds surprised. The doctor sounds like she’s explaining something. No one says anything. Then, loudly, the nurse responds as if she has had a break through. The door opens all the way, and the nurse sticks her head in.
“I”m sorry, could you come with me?”, the nurse asked sheepishly. I obliged. She explained to me that when she weighed me, she accidentally mistyped and entered my weight in the computers as 650 pounds, marking my medical record that in the span of twelve years since my last physical exam I had gained over 500 pounds. The doctor looked surprised when she entered my room because she looked at the stats the nurses took of me a few minutes before and expected to see just an absolute pile of a man sitting (*and maybe breaking*) the cushioned bed in the exam room. So, to prevent any further possible mechanical or human error, the doctor, the nurse, and myself were walking to an area far behind the nurses’ station, down a long hallway and in a small sectioned area where the hospital owned a digital scale.
Thing is, this was no bathroom scale. The scale was a huge, industrial type scale. The weighing platform was about the size of a wide picnic table, and was propped up against the wall. The platform had to be folded down onto the floor, while the digital reader stood in front of you on the wall. This is the type of scale butchers would use to weigh entire sides of beef, or, if for some reason, someone needed to know the weight of a Honda Civic, you would roll that bitch onto this platform.
And we were using it to weigh me. With the slip of a finger, a nurse discovered a way to truly destroy one’s ego.
While walking back to the exam room, we passed a small cart with what looked like a portable dvd player on it. I looked down at the shelf of the cart and saw that it was absolutely fucking loaded with porn. Dvd’s and magazines. Just sitting there in the hallway of a hospital was pictures of woman trying to make it look like they enjoy sodomy This was sperm donor aide cart. I wanted to laugh when I was struck by the thought: What if that was just used in the room I’m in? In the room that I left my jacket in?
That thought was quickly put aside by the thought that at some board meeting, maybe not too long ago, someone had to purpose that a fraction of the hospital’s budget go towards the procurement of “spermicidal donation aides.” I wondered if that’s what they called it in the official budget plan, or if some blunt board member just stood up and said, “Can we spend just a bit less on syringes and morphine so we can get a some more Asian and girl-on-girl stuff?” I would have paid to sit in on that meeting. And who has to get it? Do they have it delivered? Personally, if I had any say I would send some poor intern, in his scrubs, to a porn shop with a stack of hundred dollar bills. And I would send the most nervous, twitchy kid we had so that the porn shop clerk would believe that this kid really went balls out on his ‘excuse’ as to why he was purchasing so much smut.
After that fiasco, the doctor and I made our way back to the exam room. She began asking me all the usual questions: Food or medical allergies? (*No*) Smoke? (*No*) Drink? (*What’s it to you?*) Blah blah? (*Blah*)
She checked my eyes, my ears, reflexes, and highly recommended that I begin to lose weight, which I kinda expected. A man my size doesn’t go to the doctor and expect them to say “Keep it up!” The doctor then got a slightly concerned and nervous look on her face. I knew what was coming up next.
“So, I haz to check your testicle for any lump and or hernia. Is dat ok?”
I told her it was fine. She looked rather relieved. My guess is that when it comes to this part of the check up, a lot of people get uppity about it and don’t want to. People too uncomfortable or maybe too immature to realize that this is a doctor. They specialize in your nuts.
I have no problem with this. Although it is not the most pleasant body on the eyes, I’m pretty ok with what I’m rockin’. I don’t mind. When I’m naked, I look like Sasquatch with a self esteem problem. I get it. I de-pantsed, and she asked me to lift my shirt too. I did, but I left my hoodie on. She asked me to lie on the table so she could feel for any abnormalities. The main thought that ran through my head as the doctor felt around for lumps or anything else was that maybe I should have taken my hoodie off. I don’t mind being dong in the wind, but with the sweater on, I must of just looked positively silly. Least I thought so. No matter. I just thought it was neat to show my balls to someone again.
She cleared me, I put my pants back on, she chucked her gloves, and began to reiterate that my main focus should be weight loss. I’m still healthy and young enough that it doesn’t have to be as major an endeavor as it could be when I’m older and blah blah blah. I get it. I understand. I’ll get to it.
She begins with the post-exam tone of voice that lets me know we are almost done. All I have to do is come back tomorrow to do some blood work. (*which made me scream with angst on the inside, but she was nice, so I kept it in*). I agreed. Then she told me that I would have to fast until after I had the blood drawn.
Fuck. But okay.
What caught me is that even after I willingly agreed to return, she made sure to mention that because of my age, the blood test is going to be specially focusing in on checking my cholesterol and testing me for chlamydia.
I didn’t ask for an STD test. I never hinted that I might be afraid that I have one (*because I know that I am a safe sexer*). Nothing of the entire visit even hinted at STD. But apparently, when one is old enough, hospitals just assumes that everyone is a whore. Good to know.
I complied. The nice doctor and I shook hands, and I walked out. The instant, the fucking instant that I walked out of the doors, I felt as if the world was marvelous. I could breathe freely, I didn’t feel the weight of sorrow and colonoscopys weighing down on my shoulders.
I literally felt free. Too bad I was hungry.
Maybe one day I’ll get over my distaste for hospitals. Maybe if they did their part in not hiding their fucking draconian ways in clean off white walls and that stale sterile smell, I’d begin to see the unbridled good in them. But I still think they should meet me halfway.