I went to my doctor the other day to get my yearly check-up. I was not worried. I walked in with my head held high, feeling confident that, in the intervening year, not much could have changed. Last year, I was, if not in the pink, certainly rather far removed from the red.
“Ms. Buckingham, the doctor will see you now.”
I followed Florence Nightingale back to the examining room. I actually don’t mind going to see my doctor. He’s one of the good guys, and also happens to be a friend. I’ve been his patient for 25 years.
After I undressed and put on that “Too thin for paper towels, too thick for toilet paper” Paris original with the open-air back, ‘Doctor Rick,’ as I like to call him, sauntered in.
His usual salutation is a peck on the cheek.
But not this time.
This time, I was greeted with gales of laughter.
When he finally guffawed his last guffaw, he said, “OK, who are you and what have you done with Carson?”
“You’re a funny guy, Doc. Maybe you should be writing comedy and I should be laughing at patients.”
“You look terrible,” was his witty rejoinder.
“I’m just a little tired.”
“A little tired! Run over by a tire, maybe!”
Keep in mind that I’m paying him for this.
“Well, let’s get some blood work done,” he sighed. I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” Then he stepped out and sent his nurse in to draw the blood. I finally figured out why he does this. I think he faints at the sight of the stuff. Whenever he has insomnia, he just drives to the local emergency room, and doesn’t wake up until the next day.
Anyway, the nurse, or ‘Nosferatu,’ as I have dubbed her, appeared with a needle and two-dozen empty vials.
“Are you really going to take enough blood to fill all those vials?” I asked, alarmed.
“Hmmmmm,” she hmmed, appraising me as an antiquarian would a badly worn sixth century ottoman, “No, I don’t think so. With the shape you’re in, it just might cause cardiac arrest.”
After the blood was drawn, she brought me a rare steak to eat while the analysis was being done. Twenty minutes later, Doctor Rick returned.
“What’s the black armband for?” I asked.
“Ummm, I just didn’t want to wait until the last minute.”
“I really think you ought to stop watching those M*A*S*H reruns.”
“Get dressed and come into my office. We’ll talk.”
Trepidation began to creep into the proceedings. I dressed and joined him in his office. On his desk were scattered tasteful pamphlets about funeral pre-arranging and burial plot availability.
Doctor Rick took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “To start with, your cholesterol is a little high.”
“800! At 800 my circulatory system should be composed mainly of what . . . cement?”
“Actually, everyone’s amazed that you can even think coherently at all.”
“I’m a humor writer. I don’t have to think coherently, so this is not a problem. What else?”
“Well, your blood sugar is a little high, too.”
“You shouldn’t be eating any foods that begin with any letter of the alphabet.”
Let me tell you, it only got worse. I finally left with 35 prescriptions, six Medic Alert bracelets, a lifetime ambulance pass, and a strict diet that was comprised mostly of tree bark. I am spending the rest of my days sounding like a maraca when I walk, a sleigh bell when I write, and a banshee when I move my bowels.
Medical care after fifty doesn’t really make you live longer . . . it just seems that way.