Tell me if this feels uncomfortable…

May 23, 2009

I’m at the VA Hospital this morning and there’s at least a 75-year deficit between me and the next youngest person in the room. I’m sure that all these other guys are vets but I can’t decide if they’re veterans of the Civil or Revolutionary war. In fact one of them asked me if I was here to visit my grand-pa. I told him I was retiring from the Marine Corps and I was here to be checked out- he made a “Hmmmmph” sound and walked away. When I opened my lap top to chronicle his abrupt dismissal a bunch of his buddies gathered around thinking my computer was a television set. When I failed to produce re-runs of “Murder She Wrote” they got angry and walked away too. I’m not sure why I’m getting such a warm reception? You would think that veterans would be slightly more receptive to one of their own- even if that person is several generations younger than them. Perhaps I’ll be the same way in a few decades- all angry and cantankerous, but I sure hope not. Why waste all that energy?

The less-than-friendly reception from the waiting room crowd didn’t do my mood any favors. Life is stressful enough right now without having to put up with the random “shitty-ness” of complete strangers. Connie and I have a lot going on; I’m retiring, searching for a new career, Connie’s busy season is upon us, the kids, the economy, green house emissions, Lindsey Lohan’s break-up with Sam Ronson- it’s almost more than one guy can take?

Whoops, gotta run, one of the doctors just called my name.

First appointment of the day showed me that I’m more of a mess than I thought I was. It seems I can’t reach portions of my body that I should be able to (like toes for instance) and this is a sure sign that all the damage I’ve done to my spine hasn’t magically healed itself. Oh well, at least he didn’t feel the need to examine my prostate. If I can make it out of here without having to suffer through that humiliation I’ll be pretty content- but I have three more appointments so what are the odds? Just you watch, my last appointment of the day will probably be dedicated to a 45-minute full-on prostate “examination extravaganza“. God I hate physicals.

Appointment number two was with an audiologist. If he had asked me to remove my pants in order to check my hearing we would have had words. Instead, he slapped a pair of head phones on me and ran me through a series of exams comprised of beeping high pitched tones. I’m not good with beeping high pitched noises- it’s very hard for me to identify them over the constant high pitched ringing in my ears. For my follow-on test a very uptight dude with precise enunciation came over the headphones and demanded that I repeat the last word of each sentence. I know it was a recorded voice, but I found myself disliking his pompous attitude the minute he started with the whole “Say the word artichoke” thing. Adding to his arrogance, the words were so random that there was absolutely no way to guess what he was saying when I couldn’t hear his condescending tone- how are you supposed to win this game? Later when I told Connie about the inequity of the exercise she reminded me that I was getting my hearing checked and that I wasn’t a contestant on “The Price is Right“- I guess that makes sense. Any way, after 30-minutes of annoying exams the doctor was able to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that I can’t hear “shit“- sheer genius. The remainder of our time together was spent discussing all of the advances that have been made in hearing aid technology and how no one would ever know that I’m wearing them. I declined, not out of vanity, but because I don’t want to hear what most people have to say in the first place. If it’s something important they’ll repeat it over and over again until I acknowledge them- work’s for my father-in-law and he‘s a really smart guy.

Appointment number three, not sure what that doctor was all about- but he wasn’t wearing rubber gloves so I was pretty happy. The extent of this joker’s medical exam was a half-assed field sobriety test: walk heal to toe, close your eyes and touch your nose, say you’re A,B,C’s backwards. When I told him I couldn’t say my A,B,C’s the regular way let alone backwards he accused me of sand bagging and got angry. I in turned asked him why he was so damn concerned about my A,B,C’s in the first place- I was here to get a medical exam not to prove the inadequacy of an Ohio elementary education. I think that kind of pissed him off because he turned his back to me and started rooting through his medical cabinet. I thought maybe he was searching for rubber gloves so I excused myself and never went back- a prostate exam is one thing, a prostate exam from an angry physician totally another.

From there I headed to my final appointment. The first doctor wanted me to get x-rays of over 90% of my skeletal structure (told you I’m all jacked up) so I headed to the lab for some quick films. I got news for you, no such thing as quick films in a VA hospital- at least that’s the story on the angry faces of the people who had made it there before me. This is when I met “Hal”. Hal is the guy who shuns cultural norms regarding speaking to people who don’t want to engage in conversation. Hal speaks- that’s what he does, and he does so loudly without pause or apology. I ended up spending an hour and half being subjected to the story of “Hal”- where he was born, what he does for a living, his favorite color, his fear of prostate exams (okay, I did engage him on that one, happy to not be the only one with that particular phobia). Hal never shut up. By the time I got called in for x-rays I was so exhausted from listening to him flap his face that I almost immediately fell asleep on the x-ray table. The technician did a great job, I think- like I said I was sound asleep. But when she woke me up and told me I was free to go I felt completely liberated so as far as I was concerned she was the high light off my afternoon. As I skipped out of the exam room I noticed Hal had taken a whole new group of patients captive. Every single one of them looked as pissed off as the group that I had been waiting with. Then it came to me, they weren’t mad because they had to wait, they were mad because they had to wait with Hal.

After a full day of VA Hospital fun, and the thought of three others all ready penciled in on my calendar I’m not feeling very cheery. I guess that’s what happened to all those cantankerous old soldiers I met in the waiting room- they were probably “hella” good guys before they started their retirement process, I’m friggin doomed…


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Teri and the cats of Furrydance posted the following on May 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm.

Just what “Memorial Day” is all about…I just never new it! Great post and glad the rubber gloves never came out…that’s for really old guys, I guess

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