my annual physical, my longtime doctor announced his retirement. After
the initial shock and the "No, no, please don't go," as I fell to
the floor and held onto his ankles as desperate as democrats trying
to hold onto their seats, it didn't seem too terrible because he recommended
a doctor closer to where I live now. That meant, instead of driving
5 hours round trip to Beverly Hills, it'd be just 3 to the new location.
Two weeks later, I met his replacement, New Doc, who promptly gave
me another physical. The difference between old doc and new doc is
like the difference between getting laid and getting laid out.
"Your blood pressure is high," he said. "That's because I'm nervous
at being here. My blood pressure was 120/80 at my physical two weeks
ago," I said, "same as always." If he'd looked at it, he could've
seen that for himself in my medical records from the last 20 years
that I'd given him. He also could've listened when I'd told him why
I was nervous that day. I was starting to think New Doc was about
as good a match for me as the feather duster that old Blue Jay keeps
He wanted me to have a chest X-ray. I didn't want a chest X-ray. I'd
just had one. He insisted. He then said, "There are spots on your
lungs." "Yes," I said, "My old doctor told me that's scar tissue from
smoking 25 years ago." New Doc changed the subject. "You have a kidney
infection," "What? I can't have. My urine is as clear as water." "Well,"
he said, "then you had a kidney infection in the past." This sounded
crazy to me, but then I'm not a doctor so I supposed he must be right,
He didn't like the results of my new EKG and insisted on my wearing
a heart monitor for 24 hours and returning next day. When he saw the
results, he sent me to a cardiologist. By this time, scenarios in
my head about the Grim Reaper being but moments away increased my
agitation so much that I couldn't drive and had to hire a town car.
On the way to cardio doc, I had the driver stop while I ran into my
lawyer's office and signed a new Will.
Cardio doc read the EKGs, the heart monitor report, and gave me a
thorough heart exam. "Nothing wrong with your heart," he said, "It's
structurally sound." However, he said my blood pressure was very high
and I replied, "What do you expect when I'm about to enter the Crematorium
Condominiums? I'm not stupid; on the way here, I went to the lawyer's
and signed a Will." He laughed like I was Tina Fey or something and
said everybody should have an updated Will, but " ... you're not about
to die, at least not yet." He sounded like my mom when he said, "You
don't act your age." I told him "You're only young once but you can
be immature forever."
Again he reassured me. I said, "What about those extra heartbeats?"
He said, "That's quite common. You have nothing to worry about." He
took my blood pressure again and it had gone down 20 in the few minutes
since he first took it. "Obviously, you agitated yourself into a state
that caused your blood pressure to rise, but now that you know you're
okay, it's already going down." He also gave me a treadmill stress
test; I'd been scared of that but it was as easy as walking the dog
— and I didn't have to clean up after. Relieved, I considered adding
Cardio Doc to my Will.
A week later, I got an email from New Doc who had now decided I have
hypertension and wants to see me twice a week to monitor this condition.
He advised he had just moved to Beverly Hills! Beverly Hills?? I could've
stayed with Old Doc's group just three blocks away from New Doc's
Between the cost of hiring a town car, a lawyer to draw up the Will,
and realizing New Doc isn't the one for me, I only hope I don't croak
before I can replace him.
"A Balloon In Cactus"
20 , 2014 column
Topics: Columns | Texas