Several years ago I woke up one Monday morning and it felt like someone had painted my right eye shut; only a sliver of light made it through the dark red that now consumed my eyesight. After a much panicked call to my ex-wife Arlene she gathered the kids together, picked me up, and drove me to the hospital. Turns out a blood clot had traveled from my leg and took a lifesaving left turn into my eye. I was told if that little clot continued up to my brain, I probably would have woken up dead that day (and that's a horrible way to start the week).
I spent the next nine days in the hospital where they probed and pinched and inserted things into my body to try and find out why that blood clot did what it did. Every three hours or so someone would come to my room, find a small area of flesh that had not been invaded; they would stick me with a needle and extract my blood. All day long doctors I had never met before would pop their heads through the doorway of my room, asked how I was feeling, and then went about their rounds. I rarely spoke to the same doctor twice. I guess I would have had my own doctor come in to visit but at that point in my life I didn't have one (my ex-wife got him in the divorce).
The day I was discharged from the hospital one of the phantom heads that popped into my room over the last nine days took pity on me and took me on as a patient. I felt like the fat kid picked last for Dodgeball; you're on the team, but they know you're not going to last very long.
At first I was an excellent patient. I stopped drinking, started to exercise in earnest, and even started eating those things that other people eat to be healthy - what do they call them again? - Oh, yeah, vegetables. Then after a while I found myself slipping; beer and fast food found their way back into my diet. Well, it wasn't like they were lost; I knew all along we'd see each other again.
I was on medication to keep my blood pressure down, and on most occasions they worked fine. I did find that there was one thing that sent my blood pressure through the roof -- going to the doctor to check my blood pressure caused my blood pressure to skyrocket. They actually have a name for this, it's called 'white coat syndrome' and I had it bad.
I was telling a friend at work about this syndrome and how my blood pressure spiked on my office visits; that I really needed to relax. She suggested that they should offer me a 'blow-job and a bottle of scotch' before taking my reading to calm me down. All this talk of Healthcare reform and nobody ever thought about that?
Thank you, Obamacare.
Over the years I have had several different doctors, all within the same practice. It was usually hit-or-miss as to who would be attending to me. Every six months or so I would get weighed and have my blood pressure checked, then take a blood sample. After those preliminaries I would wait and see which doctor on call I would be lying to that day.
It was on my last visit that the thought occurred to me -- every time I spoke with a new doctor, one who wasn't familiar with my background, it was like filling out an online dating profile.
"So, Al, do you smoke?"
"Nope, never have, a disgusting habit, glad I never started."
"Do you drink?"
"Oh, hardly ever -- maybe a half-a-glass of red wine on very specials occasions -- like weddings -- or a coronation."
"Do you exercise often?"
"At least five-times-a-week." By exercise I include intent and walking around the elliptical on the way to do laundry. Doing laundry also burns calories.
Of course, that last lie is easier to get away with when filling out an online dating profile. A 'few extra pounds' online means anything from "I had a big dinner" to "I'm so fat that my family has the Guinness World Records people on speed dial for when I die." Plus, the doctor is staring right at me; he sees my stomach as it hangs over my belt. Who am I kidding; I can't find a belt to fit me anymore.
But the strangest part of this is that all this man wants to do is keep me alive and yet I lie right to his face. It's not like I'm doing anything criminal. I am overweight, eat poorly, and I drink too much; welcome to America.
And like any good relationship based on lies, I promise to do better if he would just refill my prescriptions so I won't have to worry about this dance for another six months. Which he does, and I go on my way.
There is one thing that bothers me, though. I know I lied to the doctor, and I'm sure he sees other patients, but I can't help but wonder...
How come he never calls me?