It’s that time of the year again: the physical exam. One of my bosses used to say, “Anyone who says they are in perfect health has not had enough tests.”
The physical inspection thing is a little like holding a water balloon with sandpaper gloves. Sooner or later, it’s going to give. So, here’s the drill: You enter the waiting room, sign in and wait to have your name called: “Yo, Nick.” (Thank goodness they aren’t like the TSA. I’ve spent decades avoiding public use of my first name, and now it’s everywhere. So, if you see that Francis went down in a faulty jet plane, you’ll know it was I.) Anyway, back to the drill.
The staffer looked at me and said, “Mr. Jacobs, I’m sorry, but that didn’t seem to make any difference with your weight.” It’s kind of like those “see you completely naked” machines at the airport. These doctor scales have a way of accurately accounting for your paunch with or without your junk. (Oops, that means something else nowadays.) I meant to say with or without your stuff.
She then goes for the blood pressure cuff. I’ve read all of Dr. Herbert Benson’s books on The Relaxation Response, and know that seven deep belly breaths lower your blood pressure automatically whether you want to or not, but I always forget to do it.
So, she/he begins to pump up the cuff, and I start to breathe as fast as I can. She looks at me quizzically, like, well almost like, “What’s up with this kinky dude?”
Of course I started breathing too late, so she takes a gulp, pumps it up again, turns and begins writing lots of numbers. “Let’s see, 510/320, hmmmm, been eating a little Chinese lately, Mr. Jacobs?” Right about then I make some type of lame joke about what normal is for me. She proceeds to tell me that they’d like to see it at about 115/70. “ So would, I!”
My temperature is always good, and the height? Well, the height keeps dropping. The way I figure this, I’m headed toward becoming a water balloon. Then she smiles and says, “The doctor will be right in, just relax.” Ha! That’s like when I hear, “Mr. Jacobs, your accountant has completed your taxes. You can stop over and pay us anytime you’d like.”
As the door opens and my friend, the doctor, comes in, I take seven more deep breaths, smile and say, “Hey, what’s up doc?” (Hint, physicians do not care for that joke.) He gives me a courtesy smile and says, “Let’s take that blood pressure again.” Then he listens to my chest, my back, my ankles, and asks me if I’ve had certain things checked and I say, “Yeah.” What I don’t say is that I had them checked in 1978, and it wasn’t necessarily by a physician.
We then go through the extensive lists of radioactive tests that are recommended and discuss the pros and cons of one type over another. We discuss my $800 a month worth of prescription drugs and supplements, and then, like throwing darts at the target in a bar, pick a few tests that I believe may or may not reveal some disgusting defect.
We shake hands, he leaves, I dress, and then drop to my knees and say, “Thank you! I made it through another physical.”
After that? Well, honestly, I’m off to my favorite breakfast restaurant for eggs over easy, a rasher of bacon, some heavily buttered white bread and a gallon of caffeinated coffee. Mmmmmmm!
(Nick Jacobs, Windber, international director for SunStone Consulting, LLC is the author of the blog Healinghospitals.com.)