Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three Pricks and a Finger

I always try to start my year off with a bang. And nothing says bang like fasting, getting no sleep, and seeing my doctor early in the morning all hungry and tense.

It's annual exam time, and I get worked up trying to be as healthy as possible before my visit. No alcohol or red meats for weeks in advance. I hit the gym to get the heart rate in an acceptable range. And I take an extra long shower so I smell minty fresh for the doctor.  Yeah, I'm the same guy who tidies up the house before the cleaning lady comes.

I'm off to a great start, as I walk in to my appointment late. They hand me the cup to pee in but I already went at home.  I would've busted a bowel if I had to wait until I got here. And my heart rate is pumping because I'm nervous I'm going to upset the doctor by being late and incapable of passing water. (Yeah, I know, I'm the customer and he's there to serve me).

"135 over 90," the nurse says. "That's a little high."

Shit. Now, she's holding my urine specimen. "Do you think you can give us a little more. We need to get to this line," she says as she points near the top of the cup. That line looks like a six-pack of beer away.

For some reason, I have always tried to impress my doctor by being an amazing physical specimen. I imagine him remarking about how fit I am for someone my age. He would be in such awe of my results that he would tell the whole office to come in a take a gander at me. "Aw, it's nothing," I'd say. "Just some good living."

But no, my crazy psychosis has me all worked up and the Baumanometer ain't lying.

"Let me look at your veins," the nurse says.

I'm usually pretty good with the blood draw, except when the nurse can't get the blood to come out. The slight pinch of the needle isn't so bad. It's when she starts sliding the thin metal rod up and down my vein fishing for a good spot that I get a little queasy.

"Open and close your fist. Hummph. Nothing seems to be coming out. Holding back on us today, are you?" She shakes her head then looks at my other arm. "How do those veins look?" 

Maybe it was the fear of her running that long needle up another vein that got my heart pumping evening more, or maybe she ruptured enough internal tissue to draw blood, but something started coming out.

"There we go. Nice and juicy. I knew I could squeeze something out of you," she says proudly.

She withdraws the needle which I was sure reached the bottom tip of my bicep and then hands me a piece of cotton to stop the flow of blood that seems to be on a fine stream now!

"Have you had your flu shots?" she asks. I slowly shake my head. "You should. The doctor recommends it."

She could see my look of hesitancy. "The shot is different this year. They've combined the Swine Flu with the regular flu shot so you only need one injection." She says this as if that was going to comfort me. She waves the small vial of vaccine in front of me. She had already come prepared. I would not be leaving without that shot.

"Okay," I shrug. She readies the needle and vaccine, grabs a piece of flesh at the back of my arm and thrusts the syringe in. With her thumb she presses down on the plunger. Her face tenses as if there is a problem getting the fluid to enter my body.  Don't tell me she's wedged into a bone.

"There we go. All in. It'll probably be a little sore for a while," she says nonchalantly. Thanks for the warning. "The doctor will be in soon. Take everything off except for your socks and underwear. And here's your robe." She leaves me on my own.

I look at the giant paper towel with arm-holes. They have a lot of nerve calling this a robe. It's an insult to all the terri-cloth garments found in proper hotel bathrooms around the world. I unfold the crinkly shield, slip it on, and try to sit as casually as possible on the examination table. And then I wait and wait and wait for the doctor to walk in.

Bored from waiting, I get off the table and walk around the sterile room. The magazine selection is of no interest to me, but the plastic model of the heart is intriguing. You can take it apart based upon the different chambers, veins and arteries. The aorta is tightly fitted and it causes some prying but I get it off. Little did I know that this item was the linchpin to the puzzle. Removing it causes all the other pieces to tumble out of my hand and onto the floor.

I squat down to pick up the heart parts trying to keep the paper shield on my body and in one place. I gather the pieces into my hands and stand up. My foot catches the edge of the "robe" and a huge rip ensues leaving the bottom quarter of the cover-up with a gaping hole. I put the heart puzzle on the side counter, disassembled, and quickly sit back on the exam table in case the doctor walks in. I smooth out the creases on my paper robe and try to look casual again.

Again, I wait and wait.

I get up to explore the cabinets above the counters. Unopened boxes of medium and large latex gloves are in there, along with one of those reflex hammers. I take the hammer and start banging the counter lightly to feel the recoil. Nice spring. Then I start banging different parts of my legs and arms. Nothing much was happening. I test it on my head. Suddenly the exam room door swings open.

"Hello, how are ..." the doctor starts. He doesn't need to say anymore. I put the hammer down on the counter and jump back on the table. He looks askance at my gown and then puts his file of papers on the counter. I could tell he notices the heart - the jumbled pieces of what was a perfect model of circuitry.

He looks over his notes. "Shall we try the blood pressure again?"

I nod approvingly. I take several deep breaths and let them out slowly in hopes of calming myself down.

"123 over 60. Much better," he says. A new feeling of confidence comes over me. Maybe I will impress him yet. He walks over and opens the door. Oh, man he's going to ask the staff to come in. "Nurse, can you bring me the other vaccine." What??? Where's the grand celebration?

He tells me there's one more shot I should get. It's the vaccine for whooping cough and tetanus, also one of those two for the price of one shots. He says there's been a new outbreak of this virus going around and that it's time for a booster on the tetanus. "You really should get it," he says as he waves the vial of medicine in front of me. I won't be leaving here without that one either.

He gracefully administers the shot in the other arm and tells me that I will probably feel some soreness in that spot as well. Whatever, I've already been reduced to a push-pin doll.

And now for the final invasion. He snaps on a latex glove, dabs a finger with some KY jelly and tells me to lie on my side, knees to my chest. Hello!

By the end of the exam, I finally feel relaxed. Heart rate is down. And I have three new holes in my body and another one that's a little greasy. Bang! Happy New Year!

Oh and those vaccine cocktails I had, well a few hours later I developed body chills and aches. I spent the rest of day and evening in bed shivering. Perhaps someone forgot to tell me about the additional flu-like side effects? Only 12 months to go to feel this again.

1 comment:

  1. Going to the doctor is hell. Pure and simple.