I dread going to see the doctor. Merely sitting in the waiting room cranks my blood pressure up past the danger point, causes my heart to beat so wildly I’m sure it’s about to blow itself out through the front of my sweater. I don’t trust doctors. Who would? But I do want to live a long and healthy life. Which is why, a few days ago, I went to a doctor for a complete medical checkup. I just got his report in the mail.
The patient is a 38-year-old, unmarried Caucasian male. He is 5’10” tall and weighs 162 lbs. He claims to be “involved in the arts,” but would not reveal details of his employment.
Patient has a full head of light brown hair which he cuts himself using a Flowbee Home Hair Cutting Appliance. Patient’s hands and feet are attractive, fingers and toes are shapely, but his nails appear chipped and ragged. When it was suggested he might benefit from a manicure and pedicure, he said that, because of deeply-held spiritual beliefs, he could not submit to either procedure.
Nipples are of normal size, shape, and texture for an adult Caucasian male. Chest is completely free of hair, except around nipples, where, within a radius of three quarters of an inch, several pale brown hairs grow to a maximum length of one and a half inches.
Subject has several prominent scars. There is a three-inch, linear white scar on his left ankle which he claims to have acquired in a childhood fall from a donkey, during which he was briefly impaled on a metal fence post. He has another scar on the outside portion of his right leg, just above the knee. It is a jagged, purplish scar about two inches by one inch. Subject says a Doberman pinscher owned by Mr. Kauffman, his sixth grade teacher, chased and bit him. Patient was quick to assert that he hadn’t begun pouring sugar into the gas tank of Mr. Kauffman’s Plymouth at the time of the attack.
Subject has another small scar on his forehead, about an inch above left eyebrow. The scar is pale pink, grainy-textured, semi-circular. Patient was reluctant to speak about this scar, saying only, “Why don’t you ask her?” and, “The crazy thing is, I bought her the scissors.” and, “If she couldn’t stand the truth, why did she ask me to critique her collages?”
Patient claimed he has suffered severe damage to his heart, but examination revealed no audible abnormality. Valves and ventricles emit regular sounds of a uniform nature. Heart rate is within high normal range. Damage to heart, said subject, was related to scar above eyebrow. Clinically, there appears to be no truth to this.
When asked if he is presently in therapy, he said, “That’s for me to know and you to find out.” Patient was given a booklet titled Psychotherapy: It’s Not Just for Nuts Anymore.
Patient’s lungs, listened to from both the anterior and posterior positions, sounded clear and robust. Patient remarked that his breathing consists solely of deep sighs.
Blood pressure was elevated at 153 / 95. Subject was provided with a lavishly illustrated brochure called High Blood Pressure? Throw Away that Salt Lick!
The skin on both of subject’s knees appeared dusky and unusually rough. When asked about this, patient attributed condition to “a lifetime of ceaseless prayer.” When encouraged to pray in an upright position or obtain a soft cushion to place under knees, patient said that neither method would be possible, as prayers are useless unless bare knees contact concrete, rough stone or, ideally, broken glass.
When patient was asked if he had observed recent changes in warts or moles he became indignant and uncooperative. He kept repeating, “Just what are you trying to get at, Doc?” and, “Do you think I have nothing better to do than sit around watching my warts and moles all day long?” Patient was handed a humorous leaflet about skin cancer.
Patient’s eyes were examined briefly. Pupil of right eye is olive green and left pupil is brown, with a hint of Prussian blue around its edge. He does not wear glasses. Subject mentioned he was troubled by small black dots floating around in his field of vision. He was told this is perfectly normal and nothing to be alarmed about. “Is it normal,” he replied, “that these dots look like tiny ponies, old women sitting in straight-backed chairs, and miniature ducks?” He was advised that, if the condition was of genuine concern to him, he should schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. “Don’t worry,” he said, somewhat belligerently, “I will.”
Patient’s reflexes, as tested by palpating his knees and elbows with a rubber mallet, were perfectly normal. When asked to perform a series of exercises to evaluate his range of motion he was able to do all of them with ease. He then insisted on showing that he could also touch his nose with the tip of his tongue. “What do you think of that, Doc?” he asked. “I’d like to see you do that.” Patient was told it was mildly interesting as a parlor trick, but not particularly illuminating from a medical standpoint. Patient was provided with a brochure called Your Tongue: The Forgotten Organ.
Relative to visual examination of genital area, patient initially declined to remove underwear. When informed it was a routine part of a comprehensive physical exam, patient agreed to slip out of his underpants briefly, although, as he put it, “Just for a quick peek. No leering, and absolutely no photographs.” His penis and testicles, based upon a hasty visual inspection, appear normal. Hair growing in groin area is abundant and ash brown in color. Hair in this area, and under arms, is finer in texture, and straighter, than the pubic hair of the average Caucasian male.
Patient refused digital rectal examination. When told that its primary purpose is to examine the prostate gland for signs of enlargement which, in turn, might indicate the onset of cancer, patient again refused, stating, “I’d rather have cancer.”
Patient would not allow the withdrawal of blood for chemical analysis. When advised that drawing a blood sample was virtually painless and could provide important diagnostic information, he again declined, insisting he was not worried about pain, but that such a procedure would violate his religious principles. “Show me where Jesus ever had a blood test, Doc,” he said. “Flip your Bible open to that passage and I’ll be the first guy to roll up his sleeves.”
Finally, subject was asked if he had questions about any unusual physical symptoms he might be experiencing. Patient said that often, while falling asleep, he felt that his head grew steadily larger. He wished to know, he said, whether this was something that actually happened or was it a dream? Subject was assured of the unlikelihood of his head changing size at night, other than a very minuscule enlargement of tissue caused by the warmth of blankets and minor fluid retention. Patient seemed genuinely relieved to hear this information and was given a pamphlet entitled Head Size: When to Worry.
Despite the absence of blood analysis and his refusal to submit to rectal exploration, patient seems to be in generally good physical health. However, he does display some irrational behavior, inappropriate verbalization, and delusional thinking. He would benefit from a psychological evaluation and, perhaps, long-term psychotherapy, but given a pronounced distrust of medical professionals and standard clinical procedure, it is unlikely the subject would avail himself of such treatment.
He’s right about that last part. It’s unlikely, indeed, that I‘d “avail” myself of any such treatment. The doctor—this same fellow who thinks I should have my head examined—makes a living tapping on people’s bones with a toy hammer and poking about in their backsides.
Aside from a little problem with the old blood pressure, I’m in pretty good shape. To tell you the truth, I don’t put much stock in blood pressure readings anyway. I read an article in USA Today about the most stressful and least-stressful activities: a job interview was at the top of the list, but a doctor’s appointment was number two, followed by karaoke, first dates, getting arrested for indecent exposure, and buying life insurance.
What’s the least stressful activity? Patting a puppy. I don’t have a puppy and I don’t plan on getting one anytime soon. Sure, it’s relaxing to pat one, but you need to walk them all the time too, even when it’s raining or snowing or freezing cold outside, and if you don’t walk them they relieve themselves in the house, ruining your rugs and carpeting. You have to clean up the mess with toxic chemicals and then spray air-freshener everywhere to get rid of that awful smell.
The world would be a dull place if everybody had perfect blood pressure, but I’m sitting here calm as a cucumber right now.
About the author:
Todd McKie is an artist and writer whose stories have appeared in PANK, Fiction Southeast, Pithead Chapel, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. Todd lives in Boston and blogs sporadically here.