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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Stress Test (Part I) 

Dr. S has been our family doctor ever since he started his practice around 27 years ago. He has recently decided that he would prefer to chase a little white ball around a golf course rather than treating us ailing folks. Disappointing, since, as his patients will testify, he's a pretty fair doctor.

Conversation in waiting room:

Stranger: Hi! This is my first visit to Dr. S. I used to be a patient of Dr. M, but he's getting kind of old, so when I heard that he had treated some guy for diabetes for years, and the guy died from a heart attack, I decided to switch doctors.

Me: That's terrible! One thing I can say for Dr. S: if he treats you for diabetes, you will die from diabetes!

(The stranger stares blankly at his magazine for a couple of minutes, then cancels his appointment and leaves. I don't blame him; I don't like waiting either.)

Anyhoo, Wife and I locate a new doctor a few miles from where we live. Wife visits a couple of times, and is impressed. I eventually run out of my high-blood-pressure medication, and, left with no alternative, I make an appointment at our new doctor's office. The receptionist advises me that, like Wife, I will actually be seeing the doctor's assistant, R, who is a "Nurse Practitioner".

I arrive for my first visit, and after a nice young nurse weighs me and checks my blood pressure, I am shuttled off into a room. Presently, R arrives. R is not only a "Nurse Practitioner", she is also a Babe!

R: Hi, Mr. _coll. I'm R!

Me: Hi there. You wanna check my prostate?

R: Uh..., not yet.

Me: Well, OK. Hey! I think I might have a hernia!

R: Pull your pants back up and sit down! I have to get your medical history.

I reluctantly follow instructions. While discussing my "medical history", I mention that I occasionally have pains in my chest. R is immediately concerned. I explain that the pain is infrequent, and it is a sharp, stabbing pain which generally subsides within a few minutes, but I have experienced it often enough to know that it is not a heart attack, as evidenced by the fact that I am here to tell her about it.

R chastises me: Any pain in your chest has to be carefully evaluated. You need to have a "stress test".

Me: Whaddaya mean, have a stress test?!? I've been married to one for thirty years!

(R raises one eybrow flirtatiously and, apparently remembering Wife, mumbles sympathetically, "somebody has been married to one!").

I also point out that I just had a stress test about 18 years ago, and besides, since I suffer from, among other things, arthritis, avascular necrosis, gout, and mad cow disease, I don't think I am capable of galloping along on a treadmill, even with my walking cane. R patiently explains that the heart doctor can use "chemicals" to speed up my heart rate (she neglects to mention that these "chemicals" are of the nuclear variety!).

R eventually invites me to lie down on the examination slab. She starts poking me gently (yeah, right) with her delicate fingers (sort of like a Kung Fu expert trying to get a grip on my spleen in order to rip it out!), while asking sweetly, "Do you feel any discomfort?".

"You mean other than you poking me?" I ask. Then, "Oh, by the way, we can forget that prostate exam!".

R cuts her eyes at me briefly, then looks back at whichever of my ribs she has her fingers wrapped around; without saying anything, the corners of her mouth curl upward slightly (sexy smile or sadistic smirk?). This gal is beginning to worry me!

R next decides that she needs to drain some blood from me and have some tests done on it. She escorts me to another room, and the nurse who fetched me from the waiting room comes in. The nurse ties a rubber hose around my arm and gives me a little ball (which looks like the earth) and tells me to sqeeze it. She then says, without provocation, "little prick!" (what'd I do to her?!?) and jabs a harpoon needle in my arm. Then she takes away my ball! The nurse then fills up a tube with my blood, which is leaking out through the needle at an alarming rate (and she hasn't even loosened the rubber hose yet!). She somehow separates that tube from the needle, then connects another one to it. "Hey!" I ask,"Shouldn't we save some for next time?". The nurse looks at me blankly (she doesn't have any more of a sense of humor than R). She has apparently run out of tubes, so she yanks the rubber hose off my arm, extracts the needle, and points me toward checkout. As I am writing a check, the cashier tells me when my stress test is scheduled.

To be continued...