The last time I went to the doctor for a "physical" was a very different time in our country and my life. George Bush was President, Ralph Nader was in political exile and Napster was the best way to find amazing live versions of "Round Here" by Counting Crows. I was a teenager with a passion for politics and wrestling, but completely clueless of how the two would eventually intersect in Linda McMahon's US Senate campaign in Connecticut.
But the most important change between then and now was the passage of the Healthy and Affordable Americans Health Care Act last year. Having not exercised my right to health care in nearly a decade, I was fearful of what our medical justice system had become. Even Christian public access televisions shows in 2009-2010 warned of a "government takeover" - the kind explicitly prophesized in Revelations and implicitly prophesized in Ruth. With my new government job and costly (to the taxpayers) health care it provides, would I be able to navigate this system or end up like a modern-day Jared Loughner, walking around a "genocide hospital" and calling EKG machines unconstitutional?
I went through a lost of approved general practitioners and euthanizers to schedule my appointment, choosing an Italian last name to go against stereotypes. Walking through the long, winding hallways of this clinic brought back nightmares of last December. Then I spent every day visiting a comatose Bub, plagued with blood clots and regrets. He thankfully survived, but I know a hospital - like a public square in the Middle East and North Africa - is a place people often go to die. Conor Oberst once sang "I don't want to die in a hospital" and he's our generation's Bob Dylan so I take the sentiment very seriously.
Seven or eight doctors shared a waiting room and patient check-in. Arriving fifteen minutes late - I treat doctor's appointments the same way I treat dates - I filled out some paper work honestly and sat down dishonestly. It was dishonest because everyone there had a problem needing medical attention except me. I'm healthy as an ox or any other large, extinct animal. The people sitting there would be dead soon, either from their ailments or an assassin's bullet. Thinking this helped me come to grips with my own mortality.
Once I was called into the office, things got interesting and, dare I say, PG-13 rated. At first things were simple - checking my heart rate (25/20, just like my vision), weighing me (120, what my heart rate should be) and simply asking my height (6'2", the length of last year's tape worm). This was done by a nurse practitioner, who went to school for a different amount of time and is paid less money than my doctor. During the health care debate I heard from the right-wing all the doctors were going to leave the US because it "wouldn't be fun" to practice medicine anymore. If that is our fate, we could do worse with the "assistant doctor" who looked me dead in the eye and told me to take off all my clothes except underwear and socks.
While waiting for the doctor I tried to think of the last time I was in a paper dress. It was either during a community production of "Death of a Salesman" in 2005 or the last time I was in a hospital for tests related to a bladder ailment that went undiagnosed and still causes fits of self-urination/self-doubt. "Dr. McBane" has seen it all though and wasn't fazed in the slightest when we walked in to run diagnostics. My (physical) reflexes were fine, she said, though not good enough to preempt an EKG.
For those who have never experienced an EKG, it's fun! Electrodes go on your legs, arms and all over your chest. Then a small electric current goes through your body, testing to see if, when the day comes, you will die on the electric chair or turn into a "Shocker" type super-villain. I'll be dead, but first they have to convict me and win twenty years of appeals.
Dr. McBane asked me the questions you'd expect a 25-year-old to get (drug usage, sexual activity and belief in a higher power) and I answered "no" to them all to avoid embarrassing myself. That plan was ruined when she asked if I ever self-examine (*SPOILER ALERT*) my testicles for cancer. I said no, knowing full well what would happen next. Tom Green taught us about the danger of testicular cancer to young men and Dr. McBane looked for lumps or spikes that would indicate danger. She found none and that fact alone greatly pleased me. If there's anything we can learn from that experience, besides my comfort with a woman seeing my genitals for the first time, it is that all young men need to get government health plans that cover full physicals. Otherwise you will die of testicular cancer.
We agreed I would come back soon to schedule blood work and agreed to disagree on whether I should reveal the results to my ex-lovers. Revealing your personal medical history is one of the most gut wrenching decisions we face in our day to day lives. If enough people comment on this story and ask, I will post my full doctor's evaluation. If I'm willing to support Wikileaks, I should be willing to reveal every personal detail of my own life.