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Left Coast / Right Coast: Annual Physical

Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.

Okay, for those of you a bit squeamish, you need not read further. I just took my annual physical exam.

Let me start with the “Check in procedure.” First you fill out at least a half dozen forms, of which most of the information requested is repetitive. I mean how many times do you have to write down your date of birth and your name?

Next they take your blood pressure and your temperature. I asked the nurse whether I actually had a temperature that was normal. She did not “get it.” Most of us would think that “having a temperature” is not good. In fact, we all assume that having a temperature really means having one that is above normal (98.6 degrees F for most of us). But the only kind of temperature you don’t want to have is “room temperature.” Because that would mean you were not alive. (Again, you have to excuse my engineering sense of humor.)

Okay, on to the actual meeting with your doctor. In my case, as I’m male, the doctor checks for hernias. How can I say this delicately? He must insert his finger into an unprintable region of your anatomy then you cough hard. I still to this day do not understand what this procedure has to do with having a hernia. But here you can read all about it.

Next, the doctor probes your abdominal wall. I guess this is a follow up to the hernia cough. As I am very ticklish, I normally “jump around while laying on my back on the exam table.” I always have to explain to the doctor why I react as I do.

Then the doctor usually talks with you about how you are feeling in general. One of the things that is often on my mind is growing older. Not that there are any alternatives to this fact of living, but my doctor said: “Start each morning by writing down five things you are grateful for.” Then he added: “If you focus on those things every day, all the rest of the stuff you worry about will seem less important.”

Very good advice from a very smart man.

Last, and here I will omit as much as possible, is the probe for problems with your prostate.

There is no way to accurately describe this process. Those men reading this will know exactly what happens. For women, perhaps your significant other has explained what happens. All I will say is the doctor puts on rubber gloves, coats them with Vaseline and then does a good impression of the roto-rooter man cleaning out your home plumbing. The only thing I recall him saying is “no screaming.” I guess it tends to scare the medical staff.

Last on the ritual is giving blood. Now this might not sound like anything to make a fuss over. But for some reason, their computer system was not working properly. Net result, I had to sit there for 20 minutes while they figured out how to print out a proper form to scotch tape to the blood vials. It occurred to me that they simply could have taken the blood, taped a piece of paper to the vials with my name on them, then simply attached the correct form when they sorted out the problem.

At that point, I was “free to go.” Oh, one more step in the process. You get a written tabulation of just about every single thing one could look for in the blood with a “good range” for each item measured.

I liken the waiting process to playing Russian Roulette. Reason being you tend to be nervous about what part of your blood is “not up to par” if any of it is.

One has to fast for ten to twelve hours before your exam. So the very first thing I do after leaving the doctor’s office is stop for breakfast. For whatever reason, it always tastes especially good. Oh well, only a year to repeat the process.

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