Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Annual Physical…

I’m at the age now where an annual physical is not just a good idea, according to everything I’ve read; it’s pretty much a requirement.

First, why is it that Doctors are rarely, if ever, on time? I find it particularly annoying that if you show up 33 seconds late the first thing you hear is, “you’re late for your appointment”, and then the next thing you hear is “The Doctor is running late today”. My mind immediately screams, “Then why the hell does it matter if I’m late!!”… But, I rarely say anything; hey she’s just doing her job.

Eventually I get the call, it’s like I’m the ‘chosen one’… and I’m immediately led to a smaller room where… I can wait some more. The doctor shows up, looking appropriately pressed for time (I think that look is learned in a first year medical school course) and we begin to talk.

Now starts one of the most humbling experiences I have each year. It’s the time I’m reminded, by a Doctor younger than me (I’m not exactly sure when that first happened, but most are younger than me now!), of all the things I’ve failed to do ‘health-wise’ in the last year. As if I don’t know that; I didn’t lose any weight, quitting smoking is a good idea, taking multivitamins, exercising and having a positive mental attitude are all things I should be doing!

Somewhere around age 48 the annual testicular exam started, this is where the doctor tries to carry on some inane casual conversation while looking for who knows what with the ‘boys’, which is then immediately followed by the wonderful DRE (digital rectal exam). I guess, since my pants are already around my ankles, it’s the appropriate time (hard to run away at this point). I don’t care how ‘dignified’ you are normally; it’s all out the window for this one. I defy anyone to tell me they felt they retained their ‘dignity’ while undergoing this exam!

I won’t even go into the amount of KY they use and how interesting it feels walking on the treadmill later during the stress test with properly ‘greased’ butt cheeks.

As if that’s not enough, now, at age 53, it seems I’m supposed to have the first colonoscopy of my life. The endoscopy was bad enough; I’m not at all looking forward to being scoped out from the other end! So when my Doc asks ‘who’ I’d like to have “do the procedure”, and rattles off a list of names, I picked the guy who did the endoscope. I figure he’s already looked around from the top down… he might as well be the one looking from the bottom up!

And just when did an annual physical start taking like 4-5 hours? I know I was in, and out, in under an hour last year! Maybe he just fully realized I’m over 50? Or he plans a more involved process every other year? I mean they drew a number of blood samples, a urine sample, some other samples I’d rather not go into. I was beginning to feel like when they got done ‘sampling’, they’d have all of me!

I do like my Doc though; he actually told me I need to drink more!! It seems I’m not getting my 1.5-2 drinks per day and it’s his opinion that I should be attempting to hit that target (for protecting my heart). He did not think it was funny however when I asked if I could just drink 14 on Saturdays.

I’m putting it here, in print, for all to see. I’m gonna quit smoking! He suggested I pick a date like July 4th, but, that’s too distant a goal for me, so I’m becoming smoke free on Monday, June 20, 2005. Between now and then, I’ve also decided that I’m going back to the gym to get a little head start. I’ve found that if I exercise I have less desire to smoke, but, I can’t deal with the initial soreness and the cravings at the same time. So beginning today, I’m officially a gym rat again.

He also offered me all sorts of medications to assist with the task; I’m just not sure I want to go that route. It may just be me, but Welbutrin and Zanax seem like a bit much, I don’t remember that last time I quit being all that tough after the first couple of days. Hell, I can tolerate anything for 48 hours!

Besides, it seems to me I got started smoking (again) by making a decision, I should be able to make another and stop. So for at least three weeks, beginning that Monday, I’ll post the “smoke free days” count at the end of the post for the day.

I could go on, but, in reality, I’d have to stretch the truth. The physical wasn’t all that bad, and I understand the need for all of the ‘procedures’. All in all, from what he’s said, I’m in pretty good health, the tests are preventative in nature and I agree they’re a good idea.

The one other decision I made today, is that I’m going to lose at least 40 pounds. My blood pressure is not where I’d like to see it, and I know with me it’s directly related to my weight. So, hopefully, I’ll shed the pounds and my BP will return to numbers that will make me, and the Doc, happy! I’ll be posting the cumulative loss number right below the days at the end of each week.

Once again, thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts before you go, I love reading them!


Comfort Addict said...

My doctor had been doing the digital rectal exam and testicular cancer check for some years now. It's uncomfortable (in both the physical and personal sense) but I've gotten used to it. Recently, however, I switched to my wife's doctor (a woman) because my old doctor stopped taking my insurance. She's good but I'm trying to decide whether I can abide the DRE and testicle check from her or whether I need to find a guy.

I also need to lose some weight (about 10 pounds). This project at work (note excuse) has gotten me off of my workout routine.

Good luck quitting smoking (I've never smoked).

Bill said...

I'm kind of used to it myself... but, I couldn't help thinking how weird it was as it was happening :)

Strangely enough, I never gave it much thought when my Doc was a woman... Maybe I was just hoping to get through it as quickly as possible!

IT work, and the project schedules have a way of doing of interrupting our regular routines... I'm blaming my lack of gym visits on my back problems of a couple of years ago!!

No more excuses!

Spirit Of Owl said...

Whoa, that is one scary post!

I've been medicalled to death in my span of life, but you seem to be a proper fit and fighting bull of a man. Still, those tests are good for all of us... probably. Physically anyway, even if they are humiliatingly traumatising!

As yet I'm at the self-examining stages of testicular cancer, but hey, I always say that you can mix self-examination with pleasure...! :p

My gym habits all fell away when I stopped being a wannabe rockstar about 5 years ago. No longer drumming or working out, I've gained 5 stone! A stone (14lbs) a year! Argh!!

Ok, so I stopped smoking as my New Year's Resolution this year, and I'm a tobacco free guy. Now, it's weight. Oh, um... dear!

I'd like to run a marathon before I die, though, and I'm using that as inspiration. I hope to do it by the time I'm 40... 5 years to lose that 5 stone again then!!! LOL

Karyn Lyndon said...

I laughed out loud on the 14 on Saturday joke.

Re: humiliating doctor experiences. I don't even want to hear you men complaining! You know you're in trouble when the obstetrician puts on the ELBOW-LENGTH rubber gloves to see how you and the baby are coming along. That's AFTER the enema and shave.

Personally, I think they should make you men get in the stirrups completely nude for your testicular and prostate exams...THEN you'll know the meaning of humiliation.

re: smoking. my husband has been smoke-free now for almost a year but he did it on wellbutrin. Good luck! I know you can do it!

Bill said...

Spirit: Thanks, I've always been a sort of a 'bull' of a man, some might even say full of bull :)

Five or Six years ago I was in the best physical shape of my life... I'm not happy with the downslide, I've just got to make the time for myself again.

Good luck with the marathon, I've never been much of a runner... I walk and weight train... These days, since the back problem I'm going to have to resist the urge to 'go heavy' which was always my favorite thing about lifting.

Thanks also for the encouragement... I know I can do it too!

Bill said...

Karyn: I'm glad somebody laughed!! I was trying to put a humor 'spin' on the whole thing!

Re: Men vs. Women... I have to admit that during the testicular exam I was thinking that I was lucky they don't do 'test-o-grams' on men like mamograms on women. I was with my wife for one of those... damn!

You should have seen his face when I said 14 on Saturday though.. it was priceless!

As fo nude and in the stirrups... I'm not sure, but, naked, pants around the ankles and bent over the table is pretty close in my book... I'd be willing to give the other a go, as I doubt it could be much worse.

I did have a Doc once that did the DRE with me lying on my side, I didn't find that much different.

Thanks again to everyone for stopping by, and leaving a comment!!