The “yearly” physical 

I know that they are important. After all, all the television doctors got together in a commercial to tell us that regular medical checkups are important. And when Alan Alda puts on his Hawkeye doctor face, I try to listen.

The problem, of course, is that for the last five years I have found one reason after another not to have a “yearly” physical. You’ve heard the reasons: I’m too busy; I’m not sick; I can’t afford it; It’s just too creepy. And then there’s my reason: If I go, they might find something wrong with me and want to treat it. It doesn’t matter that even if they didn’t find it, it would still be there and getting worse…I have spent five years believing I can’t be sick if I don’t go in for a checkup.

Finally, it was time. I am getting old, my knees are aching, I haven’t gotten the required vaccinations and worst of all, all the doctors I knew before have all retired and when I fill out forms I have no family doctor’s name to put down. Reluctantly, I called for an appointment. Unfortunately, they were able to schedule one.

Of course, for the month that I waited, I obsessed about it every day. I was sure they would find something direly wrong with me and I would then be confined to my bed, so I had to get everything done before I went. I nearly killed myself with household projects.

Finally, the day arrived. Adding to my anxiety level, I sat down in a waiting room where the news was on. Everyone knows that the news is no way to reduce your anxiety. I was alone in the room, so I turned it off. Five minutes later, it switched back on…by itself. Another thing that does not reduce your anxiety is ghosts.

I was called in before I could get out my ghost-o-meter. First thing they wanted me to do? Step on the scale. Great. The darn thing actually groaned when I stepped on it. I’ve been comforting myself that my scale was just not accurate..weighing too heavy. According to the doctor’s scale, my scale is being generous.

They handed me a gown that didn’t quite cover and a questionnaire to determine if I’m depressed. Well, of course I’m depressed! I’m at the doctor’s office for a physical! Duh!

Blood pressure and blood work were next. It is hard to maintain a really good blood pressure when you have that cuff strangling your arm…the arm that was just jabbed for blood, mind you. Then I was treated to a dizzying set of numbers and for each one, my response was the same: Is that good?

The actual exam was just as fun and invasive as I had anticipated and they ask the most ridiculous question in the world: Okay, now we’re just going to (you fill in the blank with any procedure). Are you ready? My answer? “Of course not! Just get it over with.”

The worst part, of course, is the additionally scheduled tests they want. Mammograms have always been a particular favorite of mine. “When do you want us to schedule your mammogram?” the nurse, inquires, holding pen over paper.

Let’s see: they’re going to smash one of the most delicate parts of my body between two paddles (for want of a better name), twist it closed until my eyes are leaving their sockets and then instruct, “Don’t move.” When do I want to do that? How about the twelfth of never?

Thankfully, my physical is done (except for the mammogram) and all that’s left is to wait for the results of the tests. The doctor assured me that so far it looks like I am in excellent condition: blood pressure, cholesterol and other blood work were excellent; the exam found nothing unusual, so I’m hoping for good results overall. I’m at that point now where I am feeling relieved that I went for the physical and good about myself for not throwing a fit over all the vaccinations.

However, for the next year, when Alan Alda puts on his Hawkeye doctor face, I’m going to tell him exactly where he can stick his advice…and it’s somewhere on his person!

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