Thursday, July 2, 2015
The day began like any other, which is to say way too early for my tastes. I greeted the morning with a sigh and a trip to the “Snooze” bar. Ah, the Snooze Bar, where everyone knows your name and time is measured in 5-minute intervals. After several such trips, I greeted the day: “Conjunction Junction, such dysfunction…Piling up exes and crying myself to sleep…”
It was at this time that I would usually check my calendar to see the latest time I could get to the office without being missed. This day was different, however, because I knew the exact time of my earliest appointment. Was this due to a sudden bout of conscientiousness? Not at all. My earliest appointment was my annual physical, and the reason I knew that, other than the fact that I had fasted the night before, was that it was the key to unlocking monies what were owed me.
My employer has a healthy-living incentive program (known as “Be Well”) that awards employees a certain number of points for accomplishing specified tasks. These points translate into cash. To this point, I had accumulated enough points to earn $100. The catch: before you can receive any of the cashish, you have to complete an online Health Assessment and either a biometric screening or full physical. To lessen the blow of having to jump through hoops to receive monies you had already jumped through hoops to earn, the company gives you $50 for completing a biometric screening or full physical.
After getting dressed, and I do mean dressed: black, cotton undershirt with moisture-wicking properties, a long-sleeved, lavender dress shirt, black dress slacks with thin pinstripes, argyle socks, dress watch, and silver-rimmed sunglasses; I grabbed my laptop bag and made my way towards “Steph”. [Editor’s Note: Yes, he put on underwear, as well, but this is a family-oriented blog, and he’s a gentleman. Besides, if you want to know what kind of underwear he has on, you’ll need to buy him dinner first…Gentleman.] After nestling into the cocoon of subtle luxury that can only be crafted by the artful hands of a Brit, I fired up the engine and headed towards my place of employ.
My journey ground to a halt almost as quickly as it had begun. For before I could make it to the first stop sign, my progress was impeded by a cat that had decided to stretch out in the middle of the road. I could not move forward, even slowly, lest the cat move unexpectedly and end up under one of my tires. This would, in turn, result in several of my female friends putting me underneath one (or more?) of their tires. I could not back up and proceed in the other direction lest some other vehicle come along and hit the defenseless animal, which would, somehow, be my fault, and, once again, result in bodily injury. No, my only option was to stay put until the cat decided to move.
“You could always get out of the car and move the cat to a nearby yard,” a voice in my head suggested.
“Forget that,” I responded. “I’ve seen ‘Cat People’. Not turning me into an undead slave of a feline demon spawn. No, thank you…”
“First of all, if you’re referring to the 1982 film starring Nastassja Kinski –“
“—I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the plot. Secondly, what?!?”
Steph suddenly jerked forward at an angle to block off the street. One cat protecting another. While waiting, I recognized this as the cat that liked to gently rub herself against my cars, let out a purr, and take a nap in the shade just underneath them. When the cat finally got tired of being a…cat, it got up, looked over at me, gave a wry smile, and bounded safely across the street.
“Dammit!” I exclaimed. “Look at the time!” Getting to my appointment on time would require some good fortune and some fancy driving.
“Dear God, please give me green lights, clear roads, and no cops.”
“Pretty sure that’s not how prayer works,” a voice remarked.
“Worth a shot.”
As I approached the first of eight traffic lights between my house and VA 288, I noticed it was green. However, the speed limit was 25 mph, and I was too far away to make it.
“Guess the voice was right.”
Even though I couldn’t make the light, I could make a right turn before the other cars got going, and pop a quick U up the road…and that’s exactly what I did.
“Please be green, please be green, please be green…” I muttered while approaching the bank of lights again. It worked. Seemingly the only person who realizes that the speed limit in this area is 55 rather than 45, I channeled my inner “Rush” (the Ron Howard-directed epic about Formula 1, not the overhyped, Canadian power band) and powered up the hill past several slow-moving cars. Halfway to 288, I found myself trapped behind a driver who apparently thought it was a 35mph zone, and beside a driver intent on not letting me pass. (That’s 0 for 2 in the Prayer Department, which, interestingly enough, is next to handbags and man-totes.)
When the lane two lanes over opened up, I switched channels from “Rush” to “Return of the Jedi”. And like Luke Skywalker evading his pursuers in the jungles of Endoor [Nerd], I slammed on my brakes, got behind the driver to my right, and made my way past. Still, no cops.
I made it to my appointment with time to spare. No cops. As they say, “One out of three ain’t bad.” [No one says that.]
After checking in and filling out the standard paperwork, I sat and waited to be called.
“We’re ready for you.”
“You sure about that?”
“Put your bag in the chair, take your shoes off, and step on the scale.”
I did as instructed. After stepping off the scale, I looked back and noticed that the reading was higher than expected. For some reason, when I get weighed at a doctor’s office, not only do I leave everything on, I leave everything in…as in in my pockets.
Next up: The Eye Test
“Put your belongings into the exam room and come back out.”
Again, I did as instructed. While heading toward the nurse, my eye caught a petite blonde heading over to one of the other exam rooms.
“I need you to turn around, Mr. McCloud.”
“We need to test your vision.”
“Can’t you just have her hold up her number and see if I can read it?”
Overhearing our conversation, the woman turned towards me, smiled, and raised her middle finger.
“I don’t think that’s her number,” I remarked.
“Can you read it?” the nurse asked.
“It’s not my first time receiving that signal.”
“You?!? But you’re such a charmer,” she says while rolling her eyes. “Now, turn around, put this over your left eye, and read as far down as you can.”
I completed the eye test per her instructions: right eye…left eye…both eyes.
“You look good.”
“Well, a compliment. Finally.”
“What? Sorry, I meant ‘you see well’. English isn’t my strong suit.”
Next Up: Invasive Questioning
We headed back into the exam room for the medical interrogation.
“Are you married?”
“Do you have anyone that knows your wishes in the event of a medical emergency that prevents you from being able to speak for yourself?”
“You mean like erase my porn and clear my browser history?”
“More like do not resuscitate or things along those lines.”
“Do not resuscitate? What the hell do you plan on doing to me in here?”
“I see your dad has Diabetes. Have you ever been checked?”
“I assume so.”
“We’ll do a more comprehensive hemoglobin test.”
“Let me check something,” she said as grabbed my wrist. I assume to check my pulse…or to slit my wrist. Coulda been either one with this nurse. “Anyone ever tell you that you have an irregular heartbeat?”
“Just breathe normally. I’m going to listen to your heart for a minute to see if I hear anything concerning.”
(Not five seconds later, she removed her stethoscope from my chest.) “Okay. I know that wasn’t a minute, but I heard what I needed to right away. I know you’ve had this done recently, but I’m going to do an EKG. First, however, I need to take your blood pressure…It’s slightly elevated.”
“You ask me about Do Not Resuscitate orders, bring up Diabetes, and say there may be something wrong with my heart. Can’t imagine why my blood pressure would be elevated.”
“Okay. Get undressed down to your underwear, and put on the gown so that it opens in the front.”
Next Up: EKG
(A knock at the door) “You decent?”
“It’s a matter of opinion.”
“Lay back. I’m gonna put these pads and leads on you. It’ll tell us how your heart’s doing…That’s odd. This doesn’t seem to be picking up any activity.”
“Forgot to tell you, my heart’s on the other side.”
“That’s funny. Do you have on lotion?”
“Do essential oils count as lotion?”
“I don’t much care for you.”
“I get that a lot.”
“Are you wearing a Fitbit or other device?”
“I’m in my underwear. Where exactly do you think I put a Fitbit?”
“I know where I’d like to put it.”
“I get that a lot, too.”
“The doctor will be with you shortly.”
Next Up: The Doctor Is In
(A knock at the door) “Hello, Mr. McCloud. Your EKG looks fine. The machine seems to be acting up, but, other than that, your heart is fine. Strong.”
“That nurse had me worried that I was this close to a heart attack.”
“Yeah. She doesn’t much care for you…Let’s check your numbers.”
“Before we do that, can I be re-weighed?”
“I had a lot of stuff in my pockets that I believe adversely impacted the results.”
“What did you have in your pockets?”
“Pack of gum—“
“That’s not gonna tip the scales.”
“Let me see your wallet…Why do you have seventeen ones? Where are you planning to go after you leave here?”
“Would you believe church?”
“Not particularly…car keys, watch, two cellphones, sunglasses, ankle weights.”
“Ankles aren’t gonna build themselves.”
“The answer is ‘no’. Now, let’s check these numbers…Whoa! That’s not good.”
“What’s not good?”
“Laptop’s not working. Be right back.”
After collecting my thoughts and making sure I didn’t wet myself, I waited quietly for her return.
“Alright. This seems to be working better. If you want to fix your laptop, just steal someone else’s. Stealing’s not the right word. I commandeered it.”
“Whatever you need to tell yourself. Can we get back to me now?”
“So, it’s all about you?”
“You have a point. While I'm waiting for your numbers to come up, anything special planned for the 4th?”
“No. I’m going on a 3-week, cross-country, round-trip, road trip in the near. So, I’m getting ready for that.”
“Yeah. My parents don’t like to talk about it, because they think something bad’s gonna happen.”
“I have a daughter your age, and—“
(My right eyebrow raises, as if to say, “Go on…”)
“Seventeen ones ring a bell?”
“You have a point.”
“Okay. Numbers are up. Let’s see what we have here. Family history. Check. Blood pressure. Check…Ever suffered from Erectile Dysfunction?”
“Me? No…Some of my dates have. Am I right? Up top…No? Nothing?” (Arm returns slowly to my side)
“Do I need to test you for HIV or STDs?”
“Really covering the spectrum, aren’t we? And no…”
“Do you check yourself regularly for testicular cancer?”
(Eyes looking to the left towards non-existent camera.) “Sure…that’s…yes.”
“Any blood in your stool or tenderness in your rectum?”
“I’ve been called ‘tender’, but not in my rectum.”
“I’m gonna do couple of quick checks. Nostrils are clear, eyes look good, ears have a bit of excess wax, but your eardrums look good, lungs are strong, tonsils and teeth look good. Could use a breath mint, but..Great! Well, that’s all I need.”
“Wait…What? That’s it?!?! Nothing else?”
“Well, I did break the pull tab off of my soup and was going to ask if I could use your toenail to open the can, but that doesn’t seem sanitary.”
“No hernia check?!?! No prostate exam?!?!? Why do I pay for health insurance???? I got dressed! I groomed! Is this Obamacare, because, if so, I, for one, am NOT a fan!”
“Did you shave another Nativity scene in your pubic hair?”
“Fine. What is it?...Don’t touch those lights!”
(Grand Reveal…Though it would’ve been more grand with the proper light effect.)
“Impressive…and I minored in Art History. So…What am I looking at now?”
“Did you ever see ‘Breakin’?”
(She cocks her head to the side and raises an eyebrow as if to say, “Is that a serious question?”)
“Remember when Turbo got injured falling down the stairs after being chased by the construction worker? This is Turbo lying in bed with a cast on his arm and foot held up by a pulley; that’s Kelly and Ozone pretending to be doctors; and that’s the cute Puerto Rican girl who cared for Turbo and didn’t want him to check himself out prematurely. ‘No, Turrrbo…No...’” [Editor’s Note: It loses something when you can’t hear him saying the words, but, trust me, his impersonation is spot on.] “I was going to do the scene at the end when the rival break dancers were working together to save the Community Center with a young ICE-T on the mic, but I ran outta pube.”
“Is that why you canceled your last appointment?”
“Needed to ‘re-blank my canvas’. Another option was Questlove, but he started looking more like Cornel West.”
“Give it a few more years, and he would look like Frederick Douglas. Am I right? Up top! No? Nothing? Fine. Go see the nurse and give a blood and urine sample. Preferably separately.”
“Can I get an at-risk pregnancy test? That’s worth extra cash-ish in the Be Well.”
“That’s for women…and you’re not pregnant”
“Really? Seems racist.”
“It’s not racist. If anything, it’s sexist.”
“Isn’t sexism just gender racism?” I ask whilst smirking and tapping my right temple.
All in all, another great physical. Looking forward to next year.