Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fainting, again, at my routine physical

I went for a standard checkup yesterday; it was only my second in 23 years. 

The results? The doctor said in spite of my often self-destructive behaviors I’m in excellent shape for a man my age (54). 

And then he bought both my books!

So I was there about an hour, received a thorough check-up, had blood work done and left with a check for $30 in my pocket.

Long live Obamacare!

Of course, it wasn’t all prods and profits.

I nearly fainted. It’s highly embarrassing.

It’s an ironic fact that the only time I ever start feeling really sick is when I go to see a doctor. What always gets me is all the needles and ominous game plans involving other sorts of insertions.

I have a high pain tolerance, which is good, but it’s coupled with a lively imagination, which can lead to light-headedness and dark thoughts that the doctor is trying to murder me.

It started when he put his hands around my neck and began a text-book strangle.

“I’m checking your thyroid,” he said. “Swallow.”

His strong hands made it impossible. After several failures, I managed to choke down maybe a teaspoon of warm spit.


He had no motive, but that’s no impediment to someone who’s feeling kill crazy. Just last week I read about a guy who got killed in a dispute over a cheese sandwich.


Truly, I was feeling lightheaded. It lasted about a minute before he released.

So I’m already woozy when he says he’s detected what may or may not be a small node on my thyroid.

Who knew the thyroid was in the throat?

“I’m sure it’s nothing, but it’ll be good to have it checked out. I’m recommending an MRI. If it’s inconclusive we may have to take a needle…”


“… and stick it into your throat…”

I remember breaking into a cold sweat and beginning to fade when his discussion took another grim pivot with the word “colonoscopy.”

I can’t recall what was said next, but the near faint came precisely when he mentioned the words “rectal exam.”

It’s very odd. I have no fear of pain, but the talk of possible pain causes me to swoon.

The man who moments earlier I suspected was out to murder me began taking steps to provide necessary comfort.

He arranged the examination table so I could stretch out and he brought me a little drink box, the kind they give the kindergartners when they behave at recess.

I confessed my embarrassment.

“Oh, don’t be,” he said. “I should have backed off when I saw the color drain from your face when I mentioned the worst-case scenarios about your thyroid. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

This kind doctor was recommended when I began asking about a local physician for my mother. I observed his evident humor and concern for her and thought, now that’s the sort of doctor I want shepherding me to my grave. 

I hope he outlives me by about 2 years and I hope he lives another 35 or so.

Really, it was a great visit. I enjoy philosophizing with professional healers over why some of us are blessed with good health and how much of it is mindset.

It’s very mysterious.

And I was flattered by his genuine interest in my books. He was very excited to read them and I could tell they weren’t pity purchases — and I’d have been fine with it either way.

Anything to get the registers ringing.

Another mystery: I gave blood not 20 minutes after my exam and was fine. No sweat. No swoon.

My doctor said he’d never seen such a swift recovery. Remarkable, he said.

Or maybe he was being sarcastic.

A case of damning with faint praise. 

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