Doctor Adventures

doctor adventuresI am sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. There are three of us, all men. We are all looking as casual as we can, even though we’re sitting thirty feet away from the guy who probes our tushies as part of his occupational duties.

I am here to get a booster shot for Hepatitis A, which I needed for my trip to Ethiopia and are the African travel gift that keeps on giving. While only here for a simple shot, I am a bit worried. But then again, I am always at least a little worried in doctor’s offices. I’m in the place where medical issues are discovered so I always feel there’s the potential of him coming into the waiting room and saying, “that eyelash looks cancerous.”

It’s the same paranoid logic that makes me feel nervous as I go through airport security (haven’t bought a bag of weed since I was in my twenties, but you never know…) or about to get checked by the ticket inspector.

In any event, I just want to get the shot and leave.

But then I start thinking about my health. I have lost a substantial amount of weight in the last six months so getting my blood pressure checked might be a good idea. I might even step on the devil monkey known as “scale.” But it would be a shame to forget to ask him about one or two niggling issues. And while I can’t remember these issues at the moment, I just need a second.

I have found one. One of the little bumps on the back of my tongue (circular papillae. You have them too) seems to have grown. There is no pain and there is no discomfort, other than the fact that I expect to wake up one morning looking like one of the mushroom people.

The nurse calls me in. On the way into the office a low frequency tone rings in my left ear. And then a dull pain slowly leaks its way from my right collarbone to the elbow. And I remember that I have been having this pain occasionally, more occasionally since I left my thirties.

“Ooh, bully!” I say, because I evidently don’t understand the meaning of the word “priorities.”

The doctor compliments me on my weight loss and gives the nod of approval to my blood pressure with the caveat that I “cut down on salt” and “not too much beer” and “pretzels only on the weekend.” Afterwards, I ask him my secondary questions.

“I think one of those papillae is getting bigger.”

He squints skeptically, but as a thorough doctor, he wields his tongue depressor and trusty light pen. I say ‘Ahhhh.” He shakes his head. All good. OK. Next.

It’s then that I realize there is difficulty in explaining problems when you 1. don’t know where they start, end, or are, and 2. lack any other practical information that could help a body mechanic locate and deal with the problem. I tell him that it’s a pain in my arm that wasn’t there before. While explaining, I swing my arm in a circle for some reason. He checks it out but I can almost hear his inside voice calling me a big ninny. Then I tell him about the low frequency sound and he once again wields the light pen to check out my aural canal.


He sits in his chair and I can tell he’s preparing to say something.

And I know what’s coming.

And he does it as delicately as he can.

“At a certain…time…certain age, that is…things, well, you can have….sometimes these little…imagine your body is a car…no, no…a…rather…” He pauses, takes a breath. “…sometimes there are little problems with our bodies,” he points at himself too, putting us both into the group we are in, and then he finishes, “that men over 40 years old sometimes have.”

He smiles. I swear he is sweating. We shake hands and I go. I am at once bolstered into a Zen “what can you do about it” state of mind and glaring with apprehension down a tunnel towards my impending doom shrieking “What does it all mean?”

Call me crazy, but this sounds like a job for beer and pretzels.

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