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Chris Erskine: He’s doctor feel good

I’d rather go to a Clippers game than the doctor. I’d rather have my nose chewed off by zebras.

But still I go, if only for the very reasonable $20 co-payment. Really, you can’t even get your oil changed for that.

So I roll into the doctor’s office 10 minutes early, a nasty habit. I arrive early almost everywhere. I was late for a dental appointment once, with the leggy Beverly Hills dentist, and I beat myself up about it for weeks. Some people are crazy for cleanliness. Me, I’m crazy for time.

See, I plan to live to be 100, a fine number if you’re a cognac or a bowl game. It’s a little old for a martini-swilling American meatball like me. But I plan to live to be 100, if only to spite my children. The best revenge would be that, one day, they will actually have to diaper me.

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Before you say, “Ewwwww,” keep in mind all the stuff I’ve done for them, starting with prenatal care, bee stings, braces, college. I’ve taught them how to pack a cooler or relace a mitt. I’ve taught them the difference between Ecuador and Venezuela. They know Portugal is like the “left brain of Spain.” On long car trips, I used to quiz them on the state capitals.

If you yourself know buckets of useless information, be sure to thank a dad, keepers of the trivial flame.

“Wally Pipp took a day off and the rest is history,” I reminded them the other day.

“Who’s Wally Pipp?” one of them asked.

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Evidently, my work is not yet done.

With that in mind, I’m getting a routine physical, a nice way to spend a sunny spring afternoon. My medical group’s office — doctors travel in packs, like meerkats — is tucked into the side of the mountains, the kind of shadowy canyon where bandits used to hide. There’s an In-N-Out Burger down the block that I suspect is owned by cardiologists. What a racket, medicine.

“You can go right in,” the receptionist says. “Room 6.”

This is my first doctor visit since the new healthcare rules went into effect, and I can see the difference already. For one, they rush me into the exam room, probably so I can’t debrief the other patients. One of my favorite things is waiting room conversations. “What are you in for?” Or, “Wow, is that a bunion?”

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I am a good patient, though, for I undress quickly and willingly, they never have to ask twice. There is no hesitation in the way I reveal myself. In an earlier life, I suspect I might’ve been a member of the British House of Lords.

“Good to see you,” says Dr. Steve, holding out his hand. “Been a while.”

Turns out, I am in peak physical form. My arms are like ship rope. You could bounce a tennis ball off my stomach — not high, but it would bounce a little, partly because, at 53, I’m still built like a cedar chest, in the sense that I am hollow inside and repel moths.

“Ticklish?” the doctor says while pushing on my pancreas.

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“No.”

“That’s OK, no extra charge,” he says.

Yeah, so I’m a little ticklish, big deal. I’ve always been an easy laugh. I laugh at funerals. I laugh at Kevin James movies. If laugher were a form of promiscuity, I’d be Italy.

“Anything bothering you?” Dr. Steve asks.

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Well, doc, I’m not comfortable with the debt load the country is carrying right now. And there are too many medical dramas on TV, not to mention police procedurals — sick to death of those.

What else? Well, I wish I were more simpatico with my dog. Sometimes, it’s as if he’s in a completely different universe. If anyone broke in, I’m pretty sure it’s me he would attack. And I don’t like the way he treats women.

“Well, my thumb is bothering me,” I finally sputter.

“Can you bend it?”

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“This much.”

“It’s probably just sprained,” he says.

Then we talk about my prostate a while.

Let me just say this: I love my prostate. Half gland, half flower, it is more important to me than my brain or my heart — probably because I use it more.

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Isn’t it amazing how little love the prostate gets, considering it’s importance in that very area. Nobody ever wrote a poem to his prostate. For all their sonnets, did Keats or Shakespeare think to mention theirs once?

So let me be the first:

Roses are red, Viagra is blue,

I love my prostate, its big as a shoe.

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Actually, it might be bigger than a shoe, my doc says, not uncommon in men my age.

But it’s healthy and mine, all mine — 53 going on forever. Under the new health regulations, I think I get to keep it.

chris.erskine@latimes.com


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