A few weeks ago I underwent my annual physical exam. When I was younger I stayed away from doctors as much as possible. By the time I was 40 I had figured out I wasn’t going to live forever and determined that an annual physical examination would be a good investment.
So it was that I went to the clinic recently for my annual physical. It was determined that I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in.
My family physician is a great guy — he’s friendly, professional, straight forward and explains medical things in terms I can understand. And he’s nearly always punctual; no long waits.
Doc mentors students from a local medical university and on most visits he asks if it’s okay if a student accompanies him in the exam room. I’ve met a lot of fine doctors-in-training and enjoy visiting with them about their plans for the future.
On one visit, Doc was mentoring a female student. When he asked if it was okay for her to be in the room I replied, “If she can handle it, so can I.”
Doctor visits haven’t always been so agreeable.
As a young man with a wife and a baby I purchased a life insurance policy and was assigned to be examined by a local doctor with whom I was not acquainted. It was a routine insurance physical until it was specimen time. I was given a tiny cup and put in tiny room with a tiny sink but no toilet - tiny or otherwise.
Not being one given to using a sink as a commode, I was concerned about ending the sample process satisfactorily. With great control I did.
After age 40 doctors believe it is necessary to perform the infamous digital exam on men. The first time this happened, I shared with my wife how absolutely awful the experience had been. Without a hint of sympathy she said, “Get over it. Now you know what we women go through.”
My pride had been wounded… twice.
First-time medical procedures can be intimidating. The first time I experienced an electrocardiogram (EKG) I was apprehensive. Having electrodes attached all over your body was bad enough; having no idea what was about to happen was worse. To make matters even more uncomfortable about a half dozen very attractive young female nursing students from a local nursing college were observing the process. I asked the doctor how in the world they hoped to get a normal heart reading under those circumstances.
Each time I visit my doctor I experience a great medical paradox. One of easiest, yet most difficult of the procedures one faces at a doctor’s office is the “weighing in.” In the old days, I stepped on a scale and the nurse slid one of the big weights to adjust for my greater than normal weight. When she had to move a second weight I saw her eyebrows rise as if to say, “this guy should have weighed on the truck scales.”
Nowadays doctors use electronic scales so one’s weight is readily viewed on an LCD screen. I wear lighter shoes and slacks for doctor appointments. On one doctor visit I told the nurse I wasn’t stepping on that dastardly scale until I was buck naked.
She called my bluff. “Go right ahead,” she said coyly.
For the record, I weighed with my clothes on but I insisted on emptying my pockets and slipping off my shoes.
When I was a kid I was terrified of vaccinations, inoculations, shots or whatever you call them. I swear those reusable needles of the 1950s were as large as 60 penny nails. The needles in today’s disposable syringes are so thin I have had shots that I never felt.
That’s good because when you get older doctors recommend all sorts of shots. I get an annual flu shot. Over the past few years I’ve had inoculations for pneumonia, whooping cough, shingles, tetanus and probably some other maladies. If only researchers could develop an inoculation for losing weight.
I recently read an age-old medical question: Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Extensive research indicates that an apple a day does indeed keep the doctor away… if you aim well enough.