Monday, July 23, 2012

Let's get physical

There should be a requirement that doctors must have a sense of humor. It really makes the doctor/patient interaction so much more comfortable when you can share a laugh. This morning I paid a visit to my internist whom I will heretofore refer to as Dr. Drab, for a pre-op physical; his stoicism really reinforced my need to lighten up a situation with some sarcasm. In fact, I almost felt as if I was being challenged. Can I make this guy laugh?

Dr. Drab is a stodgy, older gentleman who is nice enough. I have only been to visit him on one other occasion, so we have never established any kind of rapport. For all intents and purposes, I am a complete stranger to him.

The first order of business was getting weighed. I don’t care who you are, getting weighed at the doctor’s office sucks. I made sure to wear my lightest clothes and removed my shoes. Somehow I was still 2 pounds heavier than I was on the scale at the gym and one pound heavier than the one at home, both of which I tried out this morning, wearing the same outfit, just for comparison. I am a scientist, so I like reproducibility. Somehow, there is a major fail going on here. Three scales, three different weights. It is like how all of the clocks in my house tell a different time.

Next up was blood pressure (100/62), heart rate (42) and temperature (96.4). Those look the vitals of a nearly dead person.

I was then queried about the nature of my injury. I gave Dr. Drab the abridged version, explaining how my 12th rib has been impinging a nerve. Of course, he had to put in his two cents; it seems everyone has an opinion, but no right answers.

Dr. Drab: Well, have you tried Neurontin or Lyrica (medications that help with nerve pain)?

JZ: I looked into those drugs, but they have nasty side effects. And, it doesn’t make sense to go on a systemic medication for a localized problem.

Dr. Drab: How about lidocaine patches?

JZ: I tried those. They didn’t work. In fact, I have tried everything. I’ve had nerve blocks, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. I even danced around a totem pole. Nothing worked.

Then he asked a barrage of questions about my family history. When I told him, yes, my sister is healthy, unless you count insanity Dr. Drab didn’t even crack a smile. What does a person have to do to get a laugh?

The physical exam was almost innocuous. He was palpating my abdomen and suddenly, without warning, he jabbed a finger in my side, directly into the pain epicenter. I was so startled by the intrusion that I jumped up quickly nearly causing us to knock heads. “Oh, did that hurt?”, was all he could muster.  No shit!

Then, to make matters worse, he started poking around the area, each time asking if it hurt. I wanted to ask him, “Would it hurt if I slowly pulled out each hair in your mustache, one by one?” What I did say was, “I think you have sufficiently found the offending spot.” He took the hint and stopped prodding.

Finally, it was done. Even though I passed my physical, I failed in my mission to get Dr. Drab to loosen up. I just hope I do not need Dr. Drab’s services any time soon, but if I do, I will be certain to bring along a sense of humor and gift it to him. 
Now this doctor has a sense of humor!


  1. Well he knew he was no match for your sense of humor!
    Hope you have a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

  2. Hope the surgery goes well! I was at the doc a couple years ago for a bug bite-turned-skin infection and while he was being pretty serious and contemplating how strong of an antibiotic he could give me without killing me, he took out a pen to try to mark the size of the infection (it was a couple inches in diameter between my elbow and bicep). As most Colorado-residing females do I of course use skin lotion in the morning, so the ball point pen wasn't doing so well. He tried a couple different pens and it kind of hurt, too. So I just said "Dude, get a sharpie!" As all triathletes know sharpies are the best skin marking utensils. He finally smiled and relaxed a bit after that.

  3. i always wear my lightest clothes, remove my shoes and eyeglasses when I go to the doctor. :)