It was time for my annual physical. I was feeling OK but I knew that I should just get checked out. Or checked up I guess it is.
After waiting for a few minutes in the family clinic waiting room in our end of town, my doctor’s nurse came out and hollered, “DAN, GET IN HERE, NOW!” Not really. The nurse was nice and asked me to come back to the exam room. However, we first had to stop by the dreaded scale. I knew my weight had gone up a couple ounces since my last physical, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the number that flashed on the huge digital scoreboard out in the lobby. “Hey everyone in the waiting area, Dan’s weight has gone way weigh up!!!” Maybe in the future that’s what they’ll do to motivate us.
I thought it must have been showing kilograms, but when I squinted to read the fine print it said, “Sorry buddy, this is America, these are POUNDS!” With the breakneck speed of developing technology I am sure that in a couple of years the scale will be equipped with a face detection camera and will be interfaced to your kitchen’s refrigerator. In a 2001-Space-Odyssey scenario, the HAL voice will soothingly say something like, “Hello Dave, er I mean Dan. Here is a printout of the dates and times that you ate those 27 Dove bars last week. If you were living on Mercury your weight would be OK. But try to remember – this is Earth.”
In the exam room the nurse asked if I was on any meds. “Why yes I am. I eat one Dove bar once a day ½ hour before breakfast.” She also asked if I had any howitzers in the home and if I ever felt threatened. “Only if I leave my socks in the middle of the floor,” was my reply. I guess all that fits into my physical fitness profile but am not sure how. She then took my blood pressure. It was actually pretty good – like 129 over 89 or something. If I remember correctly – for the ideal blood pressure the first number should be approximately twice your age. And for the last number you should add your telephone number to your age, divide by 6 and then multiply by the number of Dove bars you had that day.
She then instructed me to take off most of my clothes and put on one of those really fashionable Tommy Hilfiger looking gowns. I work in the purchasing department of the hospital/clinic system that I went to the physical at and it never dawned on me that I should order some really really good gowns that actually have ties in the front and that actually cover more than 50 percent of your body. I got the gown on and somehow got it tied. I bet those guys on Cirque de Sole can’t tie those things.
And then I sat and read a couple of magazines. The oldest had a really interesting article on the development of the printing press. And one had an article by Lewis and Clark on how they met Sakajawea (or Sakajowoowow or something like that). And still another (Life) had a cool article about how we landed on the moon. I didn’t know that.
When the doctor came in we chatted briefly. I have been going to him for about 20 years (or about 7 “annual” physicals I think it is). He is a really good doctor and very personable. He checked my heart (it was still beating), he checked my lungs (I was still breathing), he checked my reflexes (I still had some), he checked my ears (I could see the light come out the other ear and splash against the wall), and he asked me to say “Aaaahhhhhhh.” I guess that was to check out the little hangy down thing in the back of my throat to see if it was still there.
When he was done he mentioned I still needed to do the lab work stuff. So off I trotted to find the lab. I went skipping down the hallway in my bright yellow gown singing, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road, follow the Yellow Brick Road, follow, follow, follow, follow the Yellow Brick Road.” Not really, but that would be funny.
I got to the lab only to be greeted by the Wicked Lab Tech of the West who seemed to delight in sticking in needles. “Ve need to get ze blood from your right arm. Now!” She filled the mason jar and then gave me that little container for you know what and pointed to the restroom. When you are done you are supposed to set the little container in about a 12” square cubby hole in the wall between the restroom and the lab. There is a little door on your side so they can’t see you and there is a little door on their side so you can’t see them. When you leave then they open their little door and retrieve the “container.” I think it would be REALLY funny if you were to pretend to have left the restroom, but then put your face right smack in the middle of that little cubby hole. And when they open the door on their side……AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEE! The wicked lab tech of the west would be out cold.
A few days later I got the lab results back. But before I give you those results I have to confess something. About 17 days before my physical I ate a rhubarb pie. In one day. And not just a piece of rhubarb pie, an ENTIRE rhubarb pie. And about 2 days before my physical I ate ANOTHER rhubarb pie (except for one piece – I knew the dreaded “Scale” was waiting for me so I had to cut back).
So when I got the lab results back they read like this:
Dear Mr. Vander Ark
We have determined that you are still alive. The bad cholesterol is just a tad high, but it’s ok and the good cholesterol is just a little low but it’s ok so you won’t need to eat Lipitor or oatmeal or pine needles. But your rhubarb is a little high. Please watch the sweets.
And I always thought rhubarb pie was a vegetable.
Dan Vander Ark
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My wife quit making me pies: said it took her an hour to make it, and only 20 minutes for me to devour it. It is scary when you read someone else's writing and discover that our thought patterns are similar: I will pray for you that you change! I'm still buying pie!