Sunday, April 12, 2009

An apple a day didn’t work

As the nurse pumped up the cuff on my arm, I inhaled and held my breath, hoping to trick my blood pressure into reading lower. This probably doesn’t work, but it’s much easier than exercising.

“Okay, your blood pressure looks fine,” she said, ensuring that I will hold my breath during those tests for the rest of my life.

Ordinarily, I avoid the doctor like the coughing coworker, but my wife Kara ambushed me with an appointment for a physical.

“Now take off your shoes and hop onto the scale,” the nurse said. Just my shoes? Everyone knows that a scale’s output is not valid unless you’re completely naked, you’ve skipped breakfast and you’re hanging on to a bouquet of balloons, which you hopefully procured before getting naked.

I quickly tossed my wallet, my keys and my cell phone into my shoes. There’s no way I was getting pounded for their ounces.

“This is not a regulation match,” I said to the scale as I stepped on. Clearly, a pair of jeans weighs ten pounds. Make that fifteen.

“Now take off your shirt and have a seat,” the nurse said as she stepped out the door. “The doctor will be here in a moment.”

Call me old fashioned, but when I’m meeting people for the first time, I generally prefer to be shirted. Sure, the doctor’s time is precious, but whatever efficiency could be gained by saving him the three milliseconds it takes to doff a T-shirt in his presence seems greatly outweighed by the corresponding loss of dignity during the initial handshake.

Of course, my aversion to disrobing in public is not shared by everyone. I once attended a minor league baseball game with a friend who didn’t feel that the world should be deprived of gazing upon the fruits of his gym membership.

“You think it’s okay to take our shirts off here?” he asked me.

“OUR shirts?” I thought. On any given day, I spend much less time wondering if I’m allowed to take my shirt off in public than I spend considering whether or not you could defend yourself against a charging moose by just standing sideways behind a tree.

My buddy decided that it was indeed okay, and he spent the afternoon basking in all his biceptual glory, undeterred by the fact that a grown man in a non-beach setting should only take off his shirt if a giant letter from a sports team has been fingerpainted onto his chest, which somehow makes it okay.

When the doctor came in, he skipped the handshake, which suited me fine, since I was dressed like I’d just narrowly escaped an early morning house fire. He punched my medical history into his laptop, asking me questions that never offered an opening to talk about my most exciting medical moment: the time I almost fried off my pinky finger with a model rocket engine. That rocket took me to the emergency room and beyond.

After it became clear that I’d come to the doctor’s office for no reason other than to score a few husband points with my pregnant wife, the doctor started talking about his own family. He talked glowingly about his kids for a moment, and then he asked, “Would I be happy if I never got married and never had kids?”

“Of course not,” I thought, answering his rhetorical question in my mind.

“Absolutely!” he replied a beat later. “It would just be different. There’s a yin and a yang to everything.”

That’s not the advice you’re supposed to give to a man in my situation. You’re supposed to lie and tell him that having a family of your own is all yin and no yang. Or all yang and no yin. Whichever the good one is.

You can yin Mike Todd’s yang at


  1. oh please... taking your shirt off in front of the doctor when your a man is not the worst! Try being a woman and being at your annual exam and the doctor has his face right in your hoo-ha and is telling you to skooch further down a table covered with sticky tissue paper while your feet are stuck in stirrups AND your 50 lbs overwieght. good times. LOL Seriuosly, I'm glad you went for a checkup.

  2. Sheri, that comment was HOT! Keep em' coming.

  3. Sheri -- Ha! Thanks for the perspective. Guess I don't have much room to whine, especially since I didn't have to have anything done that had the prefix "colon-".

    Perlson -- Dude, please, not everyone here knows you, so leaving comments like that might lead some people to conclude that you're a dick. That's not fair to those of us who had to earn that conclusion in person.

  4. While we don't know each other well enough for me to "ying Mike Todd's yang", or any other part of you ThankYouVeryMuch, it's good to know that you survived said medical evaluation. You haven't told us if you're yet experiencing any sympathy symptoms.

    P.S. Does Perlson have a diet Just Humor Me banner? Am counting the cals, you know.

  5. I have to second Sheri's comment - I would be thrilled to *only* have to take off my shirt at the doctor's office. You just haven't lived until you've made small talk over a pap smear and mammogram while Neil Diamond serenades you from the overhead speaker.

    Meh, dignity is largely over-rated.

    As for whether or not you can have your yang and eat it, too ... your doctor didn't quite get it right. Life - and happiness - are about yin and yang in balance ... not about choosing one or the other.

    And if there is one thing I can assure you: Parenting will teach you all about balance ... you just have to be willing to fall down a few times along the way. :)

  6. Oh gosh... I made a doctor's appt today with my new doctor for a rash and they told me that they wanted to a physical too. I can't wait! Eghhh. I'll try holding my breath.

  7. Loon -- He's talking about whipping up a diet one in your honor. I'll believe it when I see it.

    ZenMom -- I'm totally with you on the dignity thing. So yang is the good one? I would have guessed yin.

    Jered -- Good luck in there, man. Haven't you had enough rashes to know how to treat them yourself?