Sunday, June 7, 2009

Getting to the Bottom of Things


Going to the doctor and getting a physical is one of the many sneaky ways God has of keeping us humble.

Others are faulty transmissions and plantar warts and Simon on “American Idol.”

But those are child’s play, mere petty inconveniences compared to what a physical examination holds in its big bag of tricks.

By its very name, “physical” tips you off that there might be some touching involved. Maybe poking. Even prodding. I hate a poke and a prod. Those are the very things that bother me. But doctors have to do that sometimes, especially if it’s covered by insurance.

The good news is that I lived to tell the story. The bad news is, a prostate test was involved.

I had heard about them. Other men had told me. The stories were never good. Ever.

In the past, I’d actually asked for a prostate exam of this nature because I wanted to be sure everything was swell in the plumbing area. You know how I feel about plumbing: if it’s a wreck at your house or in your body, the world stops until it gets fixed. Poor plumbing respects neither the prince nor the pauper but is an equal opportunity nuisance. So I was prepared to take my medicine.

But the doctor had always said the blood tests for such a problem was all that was necessary at my age. “When you get 50,” he said, “then it’s time.” Time for PE class: Prostate Exam.

I’m not 50 yet. So last week when he asked me about the prostate situation, I told him what I’ve just told you. “Well,” he said, “now, today, it’s time.”

He’d misunderstood.

“No sir, I’m not 50 yet,” I said. I was sitting on the table. Should have kept sitting.

“No,” he said again, “it’s time.”

He reached into what looked like a Kleenex box and pulled out what looked like a blue glove and started to put it on what looked like his hand. I’d heard about these blue gloves.

“No, you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying,” I said to this man. “Wait a second. You’re putting on the glove! Why are you putting on the blue glove? Don’t put on the blue glove.”

He kept putting on the blue glove.

“Don’t do that,” I said. I think. Then he was holding a little tube and he squeezed it and some jelly-like stuff came out onto the glove. I asked him to put that tube down, something like, “Do Not Pick Up That Tu….Put That Tube Down! Why Are You…What Are You Doing With That Tube?”

Well, the horse was out of the barn and I had to turn around and all I can say is this: it seemed to last a calendar day. And in February, I’ll be expecting a Valentine’s Day card from him.

My test results report, blood and whatnot, came in the mail this week. And the good news, unless I get on your nerves, is that I’m healthy. He gave me three Excellent’s and also two happy faces, one of which he drew next to my LDL Direct, which I didn’t even know I had. How my kidneys and liver have survived in excellent condition to this point in my life is one of the great miracles of our age, right up there with the pyramids and Stonehenge and Regis Philbin.

And the prostate test? I passed. He even circled my score. And drew a happy face. It wasn’t mine.