A couple days I ago I went to see my doctor and have a physical: an event I’ve come to dread.
It’s not that I expect bad news; for a guy who thinks leaving the bacon off his double cheeseburger constitutes a sensible diet, I’m in spectacularly good health.
Nope, it’s the weigh-in that starts the exam that bothers me.
All year long I can walk around telling myself that if I had a fight scheduled in the light-heavy division (175 pound weight limit) in short order I could drop the three pounds necessary to make weight.
To keep myself in this delusional state, I avoid bathroom scales like Dracula avoids sunlight. As long as I don’t know for sure, I can tell myself I probably weigh about 180, give or take a pound or two.
But then they put me on those highly-accurate, doctor-office scales and I find out the horrifying truth:
My clothes weigh 47 pounds.
After the nurse weighs me in and I’ve given her my annual explanation of just how heavy shoes are, she takes my blood pressure.
She leaves and a few minutes later my doctor walks in and once again takes my blood pressure and without fail it’s lower than when the nurse took it, and without fail my doctor points that out.
You just scared the bejeesus out of me with that weigh in, so yeah, I might have gotten a little tense upon finding out I’m a Back Street Boy away from my ideal weight.
(OK, just realized I stole that joke from Billy Crystal and maybe someday I’ll write about the time he and I hung out: “When Harry Met Lee.”)
I’m then asked if I have any complaints and every year I wonder if I should mention those lying-ass scales.
But even if I had a legitimate complaint I probably wouldn’t mention it because I’ve reached that age where, out of the blue, something starts hurting and then, out of the blue, mysteriously stops.
And whatever you complain about, they have a pill for that and I don’t want to take any more pills than I already am.
I’ve watched enough TV commercials to know you can take something for arthritis and that medication might have some minor side effects like dying – or even worse – developing the fashion sense of Richard Simmons.
Whadya say I just go ahead and limp?
I’m then asked about my alcohol intake and have to make an uneducated guess about what my doctor will believe and how much lying I can get away with.
“Oh, I like to have a drink in the evenings” is an answer that has the twin merits of being true and concealing the fact that the drink tends to be size of a 7-11 Big Gulp and takes both hands to lift.
I’m pretty sure doctors have a “bullshit chart” and use it to calculate just how much their patients lie about bad habits. So doctors might double what a regular patient admits to and call the detox center if the patient is a politician.
The urine sample
For a guy who has to get up and pee three times a night (I told my doctor it was two because I didn’t want to take any extra medication and find myself using the bathroom while wearing short shorts, a tank top and permed hair) I can have a hard time providing a urine sample.
But I do not have a “shy bladder.”
My bladder is the life of the goddamn party and if given the opportunity wouldn’t mind jumping on stage and telling a few jokes on “Open Mike Night.”
Nope, it’s just that I usually have to pee before leaving the house for my physical and I’ve learned through hard experience that the doctor’s office will not accept urine samples you bring from home and are delivered in a Hefty Zip-Lock bag.
Under those unreasonable restrictions the doctor’s office is just going to have to take what they get.
Every year I get the feeling that my doctor considers me something of a medical mystery: with my diet and exercise program I should be getting my yearly medical exam from the county coroner and yet every year I’m sitting there fat and moderately happy.
My dad died young from a heart attack, but my mom is still kicking at 93; clearly I got my mom’s genes because when they checked me out my heart’s arteries were as clear as a virgin’s conscience.
During my latest exam my doctor wanted to know what kind of exercise my mom got:
“Getting out of bed.”
“How’s her diet?”
“Great, if you like sausage and cream gravy.”
“Is she slim?
Despite all the medical advice thrown our way it seems that genetics trumps diet and exercise. I don’t remember who said it, but when asked about healthy living here’s what that genius came up with:
“All I know is Paul Hornung outlived Jim Fixx.”
And just in case those names aren’t familiar: Jim Fixx was an expert on running and died at 52 from a heart attack while out for a jog, Paul Hornung – a running back for the Green Bay Packers – was an expert on partying and if the internet is correct, still alive at 83.
The prostate exam
The grand finale of my yearly physical is the prostate exam and every year my doctor says the same thing: “Sorry about this.”
Every year I reply: “I think it’s worse for you than me.”
I get his finger up my backside once a year; he might have to do that six times a day. By my math – at an average of six prostate exams a day, with two weeks off for much needed therapy – that’s 1,500 prostate exams a year.
Plus, while it’s being done I get to stare at a chart detailing the body’s circulation system; his view is less enticing.
Work with me
I like my doctor and realize he’s just trying to prolong my life or at least make it seem longer because I’m eating such boring food every day. I also realize he’s fighting an uphill battle because I don’t follow his advice.
Him: “Salads are good.”
Me: “Yeah, if you put enough bacon on them.”
But I’m not getting any younger and my bad habits are eventually going to catch up to me, so this year I’m determined to reach my ultimate goal:
Get lighter clothes for next year’s weigh-in.