It was physical day at work for me. Years ago when I started this job, we got physicals based on age. If you were 20-30 for example, you had one every three years, 30-40, every other year, and over 40, every year. That changed several years back, I assume because they wanted to find an excuse to get rid of the unhealthy people, and by testing people every year it’s easier to do that.
Of course, the more likely explanation is, if you test everyone every year, you get some sort of insurance break for the entire company, I don’t know… I’m just guessing here. Since I’m past the over 40 mark anyway, I would be having one each year, so I don’t get to complain.
But either way, today was my turn. I hate physicals. If you’ve never had one, count yourself lucky, or healthy, or dead. The first step in the physical was several weeks back. They draw our blood and make us fill out a sheet with things like “family history” and “allergies” and “previous surgeries”, as well as general health problems. The problem is, I can never remember what I put on the forms from year to year, and they always question me about it.
For example: after my wife and I had our first kid, I got a vasectomy. No big deal. I didn’t want the wife to get that “baby amnesia” later on down the road and say “I want another baby!” So as soon as her c-section stitches came out, I was calling the doctor to schedule my own visit. No way I was starting over on the baby roller coaster. So on the form a few years ago under “surgery” – I listed it. The next year came around and I thought, “You know, this is really none of their damn business, and doesn’t affect my job one way or the other”, so I left it off. Evidently they compare forms year to year, because they asked me about it. I said, “well yeah I put it on their last time, but it’s really not something you need to know, is it?” They agreed: nope, TMI.
They also ask weird things like “do you take illegal drugs”. Well of course not. I don’t need the crutch of mind-altering substances. Drugs are bad, m’kay? Besides, they test us at random so drug use would be even more stupid, and who is going to admit to the workplace doctor, “well, yeah, I smoke a blunt every now and then”? That would just be moronic. They also ask “How often do you drink?” Apparently if you write, “Not nearly enough”, they don’t find it as funny as the rest of us.
So, blood drawn and questions asked, I wait on my eventual appointment, and show up at the office on my day.
First they usher me into the pee collection room. Bathroom doesn’t really do it justice. Oh sure theres a toilet, but it’s been sprayed with some chemical that turned everything blue for some reason, I guess to detect drug-test cheaters. But it looks like a smurf just had a battle with explosive diarrhea and lost. In fact it looked like several of the little bastards just plain exploded. So I pee in this little cup, which I always find hard to do when there is nothing but a thin wooden door between me and all the nurses. I’m thinking, “are they out there listening to me pee or something?” Its just creepy…
First bit of dignity down the drain. And since there is a sink but no faucet, I have to hand this lady a steaming cup o’ whizz and then find a real sink. I’m always tempted to say something like, “wash my hands? No it’s okay, I only peed, I never wash my hands after I just pee…”
Next it’s on to the eye test. “Remove your glasses and read the smallest line” she says.
“No problem. XN….. Okay maybe XM? No?” So I get to put my glasses on. “PRFGTESADT” Good?
Next is the color blindness test. I swear the color blindness card in that machine came with the machine when they bought it in 1986. It looks REALLY faded out. “Which way does the E face, in blocks 1 through 8?”
“1 – Left, 2 – right, Blocks 3 through 5 don’t have an E, 6 – up, 7 – down, 8 – Wait, where’s block 8? What do you mean I’m not right?”
So between squinting and closing one eye and then the other, I finally get through it. Thankfully they give you as many tries as you need. “Left? Right? Up? Down? Really, down? Whew, got through that one!”
One more bit of optical fun, she flips some knobs and says “Read the letters on line 6”. Line 6…line 6. “There are no letters on line six, it’s a white line! You tricked me!”
Oh – glasses off… “RSNPDXYTUP” Good… NEXT!
After weighing me and trying to squeeze my arm off with the damn blood pressure cuff (I think the computer needs calibrating. Why is my hand purple?) I’m ushered into the “sound proof” booth for my hearing test.
Nothing is really sound proof. Especially not a fancy telephone booth in a doctor’s office. So I sit in this thing and I’m given a little button to push when I hear a series of beeps in my ears. I like to pretend I’m dropping bombs or setting off explosions or something, but making the little explosion sounds with my mouth is distracting. So the machine beeps, but it’s almost imperceptible. Add to the fact you can barely hear it, there’s the blood rushing through your head (that you can hear!), people’s muffled laughter in the hall, every MOVE you make creates noise, every swallow or shift drowns out the sound, and it makes the test even harder.
So I’m sitting in this booth, mouth open so my nose-breathing noise doesn’t interfere, eyes closed because if I start looking around I’m going to get distracted, trying to remain motionless so the headphones don’t creak, listening to the damn beeps. At some point the beeps are the same frequency as the constant ringing in my ears, so I just start pressing the button every five seconds, whether I hear anything or not. I’m sure to the lady sitting outside writing my results on the card, that between all this stuff I’m doing, I just look like a retarded zombie sitting there twitching at this button. After several minutes of this, I start hearing things, beeps that aren’t even there. They do right ear first, then left. But, now I’m hearing beeps in both ears just at random. She opens the door and I’m still clicking the button. “I’m not done” I say and she tells me the test is over.
On to the stress test. There it is, the Dreadmill to beat all of them. It’s a bulky, clinical, mechanical beast that strongly resembles a medieval wrack. I lay on the table and take off my shirt, and she sticks electrodes on me like I’m getting ready to be executed. Thankfully I’m rather bare chested, and I plucked out the two hairs in the middle of my chest before coming, so they don’t have to shave me. After taking some baseline readings, they force me under threat of death onto the Dreadmill. Now I run faster and faster while the thing goes uphill at intervals. The chest wires help hold me up and start tugging at me when I’m falling behind. The doctor comes through and says hello, then goes into his office in the next room for a cigarette. I really didn’t think doctors smoked any more, and certainly not in the room next to where I’m supposed to be taking a stress test. I guess the secondhand smoke helped me out, because I ran faster and finally the test ended.
Now I have to lay down for five minutes while they gather resting data and watch my heart slow down. The nurse removes all the clips and peels the sticky things off of me, leaving little hickeys all over my chest. I think I’m lightly allergic to the glue on them or something, because I always have these red welts on me for a while.
Then the doctor comes in, looks my EKG readout over, and fondles me. He doesn’t even ask me for dinner or coffee, just “drop your shorts”. Why doesn’t this work for wives? Come home after a long day at work, “honey, drop your shorts”.
I did get something free out of the whole thing. He hands me a copy of the blood results from two months ago and says, “give these to your doctor”. Yeah, like I’m going to give my family doctor something to yell at me about. I know, exercise more and stop eating crap. We should all do that. America in general needs to exercise more and stop eating crap.
My other issue was a weird fungus or poison ivy on my foot, which I strongly suspect I got from cutting a tree down in the yard and wandering barefoot through all the moldering leaves at the back of my property where I toss things like tree limbs and grass trimming and moldering leaves. He looked at it and said, “That’s not poison ivy”. And he Writes Me A Prescription! That’s right, it was like a FREE doctor visit. So hopefully the fungus amoungus will be cleared up pretty soon, because I’m really tired or putting crap on my foot that I thought was for poison ivy, which wasn’t helping at all.
Free Doctor Visit: 1 Dignity: 0