Getting physical

We are all aware of the cliché things that are mentioned about doctor’s offices: the long wait, the horrible magazines, the cold rooms and the scratchy smocks. There’s nothing more frustrating, I found out today, than living out those clichés and realizing that, perhaps, they’re not really clichés at all. They’re true to life annoyances.

It was requested that I arrive at 8:45 am for my physical, an appointment that was scheduled for 9 am today. I showed up at 8:40 am, stood in line for 15 minutes, and then met with a receptionist who promptly took my insurance card and charged me a $20 co-pay.

This happened to be the only thing that was timely all day.

At 9:30 am my name was called. I tried to keep up with the nurse, an older woman who was trying to have a conversation with me while walking towards the exam room. This presented a scene that looked incredibly strange, I’m sure, since I was chasing in an effort to both keep up with her and answer her questions about the weather at the same time. She weighed me, measured me, and eventually grilled me on my medical history. After going through these motions, she told me that the doctor was on his way in. As she left the room, she told me to take all of my clothes off.

This was awkward – not because I had to strip in a cold doctors office, but because I didn’t know the proper procedure for doing so. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in for a physical. Was I supposed to keep my boxers on, or go straight nude? There was a robe on the examining table – was that for me? Who would be coming in next? — the nurse gave no indication that she’d be back in to check on my state of undress, but I couldn’t imagine the doctor walking in and exchanging pleasantries with his naked patient.

I opted to stay in my boxers. For ten minutes I stood, arms crossed, staring around the room. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I didn’t want to pick up my magazine (a Sports Illustrated which I brought after perusing all of the October 2004 editions of every woman’s magazine in the lobby on my last visit) because I didn’t feel like reading much, considering my current state of undress. Finally, the doctor came in, spoke to me a while about a group of cancer tests that I wouldn’t need to worry about until I turned 40, and then, with a smirk, invited me to finally sit down.

It was at this time that I realized that I had been continuing to stay locked in my cross-armed stance. I sat on the table. We went over my blood work. I got the usual ears, nose and mouth check. He told me to exercise more. I mentioned a mole on my chest, and he said we should do a biopsy, a ten minute procedure – “would I have time?”

Thinking this would be a short ordeal, I said “sure.”

It was 9:50 am. The doctor left me. At 10:15 (shortly after finishing my Sports Illustrated) the nurse came in and moved me to another room. I sat on a chair and waited for the doctor. I started re-reading my magazine.

At 10:30 am, the doctor showed up. He removed most of the mole for a biopsy, stitched the hole up, and told me to come back next week to get the stitches out. Total time of operation – about 10 minutes. Total time waiting for doctor today: about one and a quarter hours.

And to think I always thought the dentist was the one to fear. The homicidal way that Sioux Valley killed my time today makes me wary of ever coming back.

That is, until next week.

Gotta get those stitches out.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 14th, 2005