January is always an exciting month here at Harmon Plaza, a really impressive 1,800-square foot brick home with two baths, a footstool, carport and backyard and today — a cat and a dog starved for attention as I’ve been gone a few days throwing rye grass over mom’s yard. We do that every year so I’ll have something to mow when I return. There’s something about the smell of fresh mowed rye grass that turns me on, even at this age. Or maybe it’s the riding lawn mower. But I digress.
It’s the month wherein I get to be poked, prodded, pricked and frozen as I visit the various health-care professionals for checkups. Blood, eyes, skin and teeth or BEST, if you’re looking for an acronym, as in the “best” month of the year. The blood work is always done at my friendly family physician’s office along with another “procedure” that has made us brothers in that great mystical “thingie” between the male and his physician. I must say that when he says, “Bend over,” he always does it with a smile and I always mumble something about the football playoffs in order to preserve my dignity which suddenly flies out the window. I’ve heard recently that the procedure is no longer done by a lot of doctors but, well, we shall see, won’t we?
Then it’s on to “Vampira” who delights, or appears to, in the art of pricking and poking. “This won’t hurt a bit” she always says, just prior to choking my arm and ripping and tearing hair with a rubber tourniquet at the elbow. The phantom vein seems always elusive and I wonder why I can find it when she can’t. It’s the one that’s obviously running away from a way too large needle. “What’s the problem?” I’m thinking. “You mean you can’t see that thing just dying to be stuck so it can bleed for a minute?” “I want my mommy!” Hopefully the blood work will come back OK, although at this weight I’ve got to be borderline diabetic. Well, don’t I deserve a good report, having gone through the torture.
This is called negotiating with the Lord after the visit to the doctor’s office. The eye visit takes place at the Wal-Mart vision center because it’s cheap and we really don’t need those things now, do we? Here, I’m exposed to a breath of fresh air shot directly into my eyeballs. I think you hear “Ready?” just before this happens, but I never am. Then something else is put in there to make sure, if the sun’s out, I can’t see to drive home unless I use a ridiculously hideous pair of cheap sunglasses designed to let everyone in the parking lot know I just had my eyes “examined.” Wearing those things on the beach would guarantee bullying.
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Then on to the eye exam where I’m going to be asked to read the same eye chart I’ve been trying to read for 60 years. Maybe if the optics guy would pronounce the letters more clearly I would do better. I’ve been flunking the thing since ‘58. Going to the skin doctor is always uplifting. “Umm, looks like you’re breaking down, he’ll say. Let’s see if I can find something to freeze.” To which I have no comment, although now a mental breakdown is not out of the cards. What does one expect, having spent those wonderful weekends at the beach before sunscreen, when a good Monday morning slap on the back from classmates would send me into the ozone layer. How long is this stuff supposed to last anyway?
The dental exam, when you have teeth like mine that were bad from the second set, can be interesting as I try to read the expression on the dentist’s face as he looks into my mouth. It’s a look of sympathy as if he wants to ask me why I’m still coming or if I’ve considered dentures. Thank goodness for dental insurance, which will pay for whatever I don’t need? Still, I’m sure he’s doing the best he can with what I’ve given him. It’s just that dental floss is so expensive. Well I’d BEST be on my way. I have an appointment with Wal-Mart for some sun glasses.
Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.