It’s my birthday. So that means I’m getting a finger up my ass.
I’d love to tell you that my upcoming anal adventure is connected to some kinky in-between the sheets fun commemorating the twelfth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday – but it isn’t. When my birthday approaches I always go for my annual physical. Joy.
When I arrive at my doctor’s office I’m ushered into one of the examination rooms. A pretty medical assistant weighs me, takes my temperature, and tells me to take off my pants. In any other situation I’d be happy to comply, but not today.
Suddenly I hear my doctor’s voice in the hallway. “Who’s in room six?” he asks. Of course, that would be me.
The assistant sticks her head out the door. “Mr. Dublanica’s in room six. What do you want done?”
“He needs an EKG, cholesterol, and a PSA,” the doctor’s voice replies from beyond the door. “I’ll be with him in a minute.”
“Oh boy,” I say. “I’m getting wired for sound.”
The medical assistant laughs. “You got it.”
“Well, at least it’s not like the old days. When I got my first EKG the used to cover me in that goop.”
“We haven’t used that stuff in years.”
“I’ll be right back with the machine.”
As I wait for the assistant to return I look around the exam room. The walls are covered with diagrams of the human body and reminders of all the things that can go wrong inside you. I feel my blood pressure surge. Sitting in my skivvies I feel exposed. I guess it’s a good thing I’m wearing my cleanest boxer shorts.
The medical assistant returns with a machine that goes “beep” and attaches the electric leads to various parts of my chest.
“Hold still,” she says.
“I ain’t going anywhere.”
The machine whirrs and beeps as it spits out a ribbon of paper. As I watch as the red line squiggle up and down I pray the Lipitor’s been working.
“A friend of mine said if your EKG looks like the stock market charts you’ll be fine,” I quip out of nervousness
“That’s kinda true,” the assistant says. “Up and down.”
“Just no crashes.”
“I think you’ll be fine.”
The machine stops printing. The assistant plucks the leads of my skin, puts everything away, and starts trundling the machine out the door.
“The doctor will be with you in a minute,” she says. “And happy birthday!”
“Thanks,” I reply, glumly.
After another minute looking at the pictures of the human heart my doctor walks in the door holding a tablet computer. A thin, bespectacled man wearing a tzitzit under his shirt and and a yamaka on his head, he smiles broadly when he sees me.”
“My man, the famous author!” he says. “I thought you’d have traded up to a more expensive doctor by now.”
“I guess I’m stuck with you Doctor Levin,” I reply. With a reputation as one of the best diagnosticians in the area, Levin’s been my doctor for a long time. He’s also my father’s doctor which comes in very handy. Knowing what’s going on in my father’s body gives him some guidance in dealing with me. That’s the theory at least.
“So how many books did you sell?” Doctor Levin asks. I tell him.
“That’s great,” he says. “Are you gonna go on Oprah again?”
“They’re re-airing the episode I was on some time in June.”
“Let me know when,” Doctor Levin says. “I’ll tape it.”
“So,” the doctor says, slipping into his medical persona, “Tell me what’s going on with you.”
For several minutes I tell Levin everything that happened to me during my Annus Mirabilis, We talk about my gallbladder, stress levels, relationships, diet, exercise, my recent weight loss, and all the miscellaneous fever and aches that cropped up over the year. When I’m finished Doctor Levin makes me hop up on the table and proceeds to massage my internal organs through my epidermal layer.
“That hurt?” he asks after I grunt.
“Then why’d you make that sound?”
“Because you’re pressing on my empty stomach,” I say. “I haven’t eaten in several hours.”
Doctor Levin takes my blood pressure and reads my EKG. “Everything’s perfect,” he says reassuringly.
“Okay,” he says, reaching for a box of latex gloves. “Get up, drop your shorts, and bend over the table.” Oh boy. Here it comes.
“I hate this part,” I say.
“It’d suck if I prevented you from having a heart attack and then have you die from prostate or rectal cancer now wouldn’t it?” the doctor says.
Unable to argue with his logic, I assume the position. Facing the wall I hear the snap of a rubber glove. Then I feel a cold tickle, some pressure, then a lot.
“Almost done,” the doctor says.
Intelligent verbalization is beyond me now. All I can do is squeal.
Many men avoid having this test done and I understand why. It’s no fun. But my doc is right. It’s better to go through a moment of embarrassment and discomfort than to have something sinister creep up on you. And for any guy who says, “I ain’t letting no one touch me down there!” grow up. Women have it much worse.
As I’m contemplating the irony of adding a new digit to my age while getting a digit up my ass, the gloved finger exits, leaving a mini vacuum in it’s wake. Honestly, for me, that’s the worst part.
“Okay,” Doctor Levin says. “You can put your pants back on.”
I put my pants on and sit down in a chair, gingerly. I feel like asking the doc for a cigarette but that’d be inappropriate on multiple levels.
“Are you all right?” the doctor asks, noting the look of discomfort on my face. “That’s not supposed to hurt.”
“I think I might’ve had one in the launch tube,” I reply.
“Oh,” Doctor Levin replies, ending that line of questioning.
As I feel things rearranging themselves in my bowels, I listen as Doctor Levin gives me some instructions. Eat better, lose more weight, exercise more, get my gallbladder taken out before it becomes a crisis, and, above all, relax.
“You had a hell of year,” Doctor Levin says. “Enjoy life more.”
“Any problems you call me,” Doctor Levin says. “Take your Lipitor. Eat vegetables and all that.”
“Thanks,” I say. The discomfort in my nether regions has passed. I think knowing that a birthday bottle of McCallan is waiting for me at home got me through the ordeal.
“Be well,” the doctor says, exiting the exam room.
“Take care Doc.”
I collect my things and head to the lab. Several vials are laid out in preparation for my blood stream to fill them.
“So how’d it go?” the medical assistant from earlier asks as she preps the needle.
“Okay,” I reply. “You’re gonna take that much blood out of me?”
“Do I get a lollipop?”
The medical assistant smiles sadly. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m fresh out.”
And on my birthday too.