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.
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.
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?”
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.
“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.
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?”
“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.
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, it’s big as a shoe.
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.