Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Annual exam, 2009 version

Each year, a new element seems to be added to my annual medical exam. Last year, it was a test for Vitamin D level, which had by then become a hot topic. Mine showed that I was critically deficient—not surprising for a fair-skinned, obese Anglo-Saxon after a typically overcast midwestern winter.

The other new test for me was an EKG. Thanks to CPR training, I understand how important it is to have rhythm and that flat lines, unlike in made-for-TV medical dramas, are permanent.

In the 2009 edition on June 15, a breathing test was introduced. I look at these assessments in the same way I used to regard academic tests—as a challenge that I must not only pass, but excel at. Since my underlying belief is that I breathe poorly due to overcrowded lungs and and formative years spent breathing secondhand smoke in confined areas (including at my first job, before smokers were exiled to the great outdoors), I viewed this procedure with trepidation. It required a certain amount of coordination, that is, the ability to breathe in and out at the correct moments. The pressure!

The idea is to suck in as much air as you can hold, put an enormous tube attached to a computer in your mouth, and blow as forcefully as possible when cued. Your objective is to blow the leaves off a cartoon tree, among which monkeys are hidden. The tricky part for we the uncoordinated is that you're supposed to inhale again before removing the tube. I think.

All three times the device chastised me for doing something—not the same things—incorrectly. My first effort seemed respectable but weak, the second terrible all around. By the third I had almost gotten the hang of it, but it was too late as it was my final attempt—just I was getting a good look at the monkeys! Reviewing the results later, Dr. T. laughed at how I fared progressively from okay to poorly to best (the key being that the results were acceptable, of course).

Except for the critical lab tests (results as yet unknown and feared), my other results were good—EKG, blood pressure (100/80), urine, etc. She noted that my uterus is still huge, so I mentioned my anticipated consultation with Dr. M. She said that if he couldn't remove Ignatius the fibroid laparoscopically, perhaps he could recycle my appendectomy scar. Now there's a thought. She believes that I would have to feel better minus the squatter. I am beginning to agree. For example, 75 minutes elapsed from one bathroom visit to the next, I felt like I really had to go, and still I produced all of two ounces. Two ounces! My capacity must be at most four to six. Maybe eight. If I don’t cough or sneeze.

I celebrated my okay health by breaking my fast with a wrap and coffee at Argo Tea, then headed off to where the sun rarely shines. Does it shine anywhere these days, or is everything filled with direful doom and gloom?

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