The Physical Exam

You might have noticed that I did not call this the “annual” physical exam. The reason for this omission is I don’t always make it into my doctor’s office on an actual annual basis. Shame on me. But, then again, I am a healthy person, and rarely go to the doctor for any reason. After all, I am married to a Master Herbalist, and she has a lot of natural remedies up her sleeve.

Today, however, was the day I chose to have a physical exam. After thinking back on everything that happened at the doctor’s office, I determined the information might be of interest to you, and could even bring a smile to your face.

The day started out with fasting for the blood work. I don’t do well without food. Then, as is often the case, I spent too much time at my computer, and was a little worried that I might be late for my appointment. Why I was worried about making a doctor wait on me is something I cannot explain in a rational fashion.

I really don’t like having a physical. The anticipation of being poked in private places, having a needle stuck in my arm by some vampire, and the possibility of finding out that I may not be as healthy as I think, all contribute to creating a stressful situation.

With all these negative and stressful things going on in my head, it should have been no surprise that the first full sentence uttered to me by the nurse was, “Your blood pressure is high.” No kidding? Gee, I wonder why.

blood pressure

In the examining room, the same nurse asks when my last physical was done. Honestly, if I had known there would be this sort of interrogation, I would have done some research, and studied harder. I said I really couldn’t recall, but I was relatively sure it was at least a couple of years. Then she asked, “Was it here?” Now I have to tell you, I have been going to this same doctor and seeing this same nurse for at least ten years. She has a computer screen in front of her where she is recording my information. Don’t you think that somewhere in that computer is information about my last physical?

Then the doctor opens the door and says, “Knock, knock.” I thought this might be some sort of joke, but no, it wasn’t. Then he says, “Hello, young man.” Seriously? I am older than he is. I hate people who patronize me like that. He asks how I am doing, I say, “Fine, how about you?” To which he replies, “Oh, just trying to look like I’m working.” That may have been the most apropos statement of the morning. When he got around to warning me about my high blood pressure, and my history of high cholesterol, he said “Both of those have a high risk of stroke and heart attack. You sure don’t want those, that’s not good form.” Not good form? What was he talking about?


All goes well with the exam until we get to the two parts that he describes as “our second least favorite and our least favorite.” Referring, of course, to checking for hernias (cough, cough) and the digital rectal exam of the prostate, or as I like to call it the disappearing finger trick.( I wonder if he will respect me in the morning.) The exam is concluded, but before he leaves the room he gives me this piece of advice, “Try to be good, but if you’re not, don’t get caught.”  Truly sage advice.

But it is not over. I go down two doors to the lab. I am greeted by a larger than average female, (I’m trying to be nice here) who has long finger nails that are painted bright blue, and a hair cut that I cannot even begin to describe. As it turns out, she is the vampire who is going to draw my blood. YIKES!

blood test

While she searches for a tourniquet and a bandage, I sit and wait for the part I hate the most. As she sticks the needle in my arm, she says, “It seems warm in here.” I indicate that I am comfortable with the temperature. She goes on to say, “I hope I’m not going through menopause.” Wait, what? This girl is late twenties to early thirties, so I say, “Seems to me that would be a bit early,” to which she replies, “A lot of women in my family have gone into menopause early. Sweating and the whole thing.” I am not making this up. I am having a conversation with a total stranger about menopause, while blood is flowing out of my arm.

I just can’t wait until my next physical exam. I think I’ll start going twice a year, just because it is sooo much fun!

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10 Responses to The Physical Exam

  1. Hysterical! Exactly why I set a horribly personal example for my patients. Until last year it had been 15 years and there is a reason for that. Personal attention to patients is something I try to do so when I don’t get it I get cranky!

    • I’m afraid personal attention from doctors is a thing of the past. It would be nice if there was a little bit of recollection, but that’s just my dream. Thanks for the comment.

  2. shutterpug says:

    ROFL! So good you have a sense of humor! It definitely helps! I have seen healthcare as both a critical care nurse and as a patient. Trust me… it is hard being a patient… even a healthy one, but the time I have had issues, my sense of humor has gotten me through the rough spots. Sometimes you just have to laugh!

    • I have no idea what ROFL means, but I suppose it’s some sort of compliment. If so, thanks. I think it’s necessary to have a sense of humor about life in general. Without it I would be angry all the time.

  3. Gary Colles says:

    You must have the same Doctor as I have. Some fun.

  4. Wayne Barton says:

    I recently went to a new dentist whose assistant started through a list of 75 questions to be answered before I could see the good Doctor. Early on she asked when I last had a physical examination. I responded when I was inducted into military service (and you know how old I am). That was when the inquisition was over.

    • It is interesting to me that they ask so many personal questions, type them into their computer, and never look at the information again. What’s the point of feigned interest? The other problem I had with this particular nurse was she was like a robot. No smile, no personality, just questions.

  5. Aunt Beulah says:

    So funny, Troy, and you spoke for many of us and our feelings as we keep a medical appointment. My pet peeve is being asked to complete a survey with 250 questions before my appointment, which I do, then no one asks for it, and when I offer it I get an irritated reaction. Then the nurse asks me the same 250 questions, which she busily types into my electronic record. Then the doctor enters, doesn’t look at the computer, and repeats the questions. This is efficient?

  6. And even then, there seems to be no apparent use for the answers to those 250 questions. I think it is just an attempt to make us think they really care about our lives and those 250 answers. On one of the forms I had to complete, I had to list my wife’s name and phone number a total of three times as a contact person for various situations. That is just a total waste of my time.

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