Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

There are indignities Baby Boomers must suffer. We don’t cause them; but, we must deal with them. Handle them with our heads held high, even when our heads are scraping the ground.

Many of these affronts concern physicals. The dream of a Boomer is to get a medical professional with a sense of humor. They do exist, although there seems to be a rule that there can be no more than one with a sense of humor in the same quadrant of the United States.

My situation involved a prostate exam. After a visit to the doctor, during which time he showed not one iota of humor, his office called and said they were “not overly concerned” but wanted me to have a prostate biopsy. Once you hear the words “biopsy,” the words ”not overly concerned” have no meaning whatsoever. I immediately said “yes” and offered to come right then. NOW.

Three weeks later I showed up for my appointment. 4 p.m. Friday. To my way of thinking, biopsies are Monday activities, not “let’s-get-ready-for-the-weekend-late-Friday-afternoon” activities.

The nurse took me to a dark room that had a MACHINE pointed toward a 3.5 foot-long table. The MACHINE is what the doctor used to perform the biopsy.

The nurse, who, incidentally did have a wonderful sense of humor, asked me to lay down on the 3.5 foot long table. I’m 5’10. She asked me to get in the fetal position on my left side. Did I mention that the table was somewhere around four inches wide? So there I am, undressed from waist down, lying on my left side scrunched on the table so that the part of my anatomy of interest in this exam is airborn, hanging off the four-inch wide table. The nurse patted my shoulder and asked, “Are you comfortable?” I didn’t answer her. She couldn’t have asked that. She repeated the question. “Are you comfortable?” “Oh, I heard you,” I replied, “but I can’t believe you said it.” I wanted to discuss this. When I say no, is she going to improve the situation? If I say I’m comfortable, will she make me change?

But, she laughed and walked out of the room. I knew that I was being telecast throughout the building and into the parking lot. I wanted to look for a camera but was afraid to move. The fall would have broken my neck.

In a moment, my doctor came charging in like a game show host, holding out his hand for me to shake. “I’m sorry,” I whimpered, “I need my hands to stay on the table.”

Following this introduction, another doctor came in to show my doctor “how to operate the equipment.” “Excuse me,” I said too softly. No reply. “Excuse me,” I shouted. “Yes?” both obviously displeased I interrupted them. “My confidence level in you hit bottom when you asked for help operating the equipment.” “This is a new machine,” he replied, “and the doc here is showing me how to operate it.”

INDIGNITY. I’m at their mercy, or the lack thereof. I won’t go into the procedure. I don’t know if the doctor did it right or not. All I do know is he lied that I might feel “a little pain.” Finally, he finished and left the room. The nurse covered me with a blanket and helped me sit up on the table. She smiled and said, “You were such a good boy, I’m going to give you a sucker.”

“What time is it?” Almost five o’clock , she told me. “You can keep your sucker, m’am. I’m holding out for a drink!” I got dressed, got in my car, and drove home to make good on my promise.

The next week, I saw a friend who said, “I saw you last Friday afternoon leaving the doctor’s office. I honked and waved, but you didn’t wave back.”

I don’t carry weapons for this very reason.

(The biopsy was fine.)

Date of Blog Story: 
January 7, 2010

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