I recently had my summer checkup with my GP, Dr. Lopez. Even though I think the world of Doc, I don’t hate many things on Earth quite as much as I do going to see him. It’s definitely a top ten pet peeve of mine — nowhere near as loathed as Weed-Eating the yard but quite a ways above a slight paper cut. It’s not that Doc is a bad guy, because he’s not; I simply despise repetitive activity for the most part and my physicals are always extremely repetitive.
First, regardless of when my appointment time happens to be, I’m going to sit in the exam room for at least an hour. I wouldn’t mind if I was confined to the main waiting room. It’s much larger and cooler and the reading material is of a better selection. No, I have to cool my heels in the tiny, windowless exam room with the paper covered table and box of tongue depressors. I’m claustrophobic and after about ten minutes alone in there, I start hyperventilating and the walls begin moving towards me. Then, just as I am about to go bat-poop crazier that I already am, Doc comes in and wonders how my blood pressure can always be elevated no matter what hypertension meds he has me take.
I could endure the waitings, though, if the consultation wasn’t so negative. Doc always starts with the lab results from the blood I had drawn the week before. (Just as an aside, if you want to see your doctor flip completely out, instead of going in for labs fasting, eat three Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts and chug a pair of Mountain Dews about thirty minutes before they draw blood — they’ll send an ambulance to get you as soon as the results come back.) Now all I care about from my lab results is my A1C level and my PSA level. The A1C tells if I’m diabetic or not and the PSA lets me know all is well with Mini-Me down below. He could give me those numbers and the visit would last five minutes — tops. Instead, he starts off with my CHOLESTEROL and TRIGLYCERIDES. I take meds to reduce both and he still isn’t satisfied. Unfortunately, no matter how much I try to convince him I don’t give a tinker’s cuss what my LDL and HDL levels are, I still get The Speech.
The Speech is a variation on “you need to exercise; you need to lose weight, you need to eat healthier.” Depending on the time of year or his particular mood, one of the three will get more emphasis than the other two. The latest iteration focused on diet. Every time he starts the “getting healthier” spiel, I ask him why I need to be so concerned with cholesterol. He always says it’s so I won’t have a massive heart attack and die. That’s when I ask him the same question every time: “What is the single biggest indicator of longevity in humans?” Usually he mumbles a bit then comes out with “Family history,” at which point I say, “Okay, forget cholesterol and tell me my A1C.”
Here’s my line of thinking and it infuriates him to no end — I’m not scared of a massive heart attack. If your heart explodes, you die. Simple. Pour water on the fire and call in the dogs boys because this night’s hunt is OVER. On the other hand, I am terrified of Type II Diabetes or, as we say in the South, “The Sugar.” Diabetes doesn’t kill you — at least not outright. No, first they cut off your toes; then your feet, followed by your legs to the knee, then to the thigh. Before long, you end up looking like an extra from the 1932 Tod Browing film Freaks. Plus, the entire time leading up to your butchery, you have to stab yourself with needles two or three times a day. Needles are the main reason a Skittlesques pack of pills was my drug of choice rather than heroin or morphine when I was a young and reckless lad.
Getting back to family history, though, Granny Matt (my great-grandmother on Daddy’s side) had six sons: Uncle William, Uncle Bob, Uncle George, Papa Wham, Uncle David, and Uncle Jack. Of the six, FIVE died of massive heart attacks sometime between 72 and 76 years old. Daddy has already had one and a half heart attacks and he’s 63. On the other side of my family tree, however, diabetes and cancer, sometimes both, run roughshod through Mama’s side of my family. I’m trying to get Dr. Lopez to see I’m not fatalistic or reckless with my health, I’m just playing the averages and trying to help skew them in my favor.
I could cut out everything I love to eat — red meat, ice cream, starches, sweets, cheese, etc — and I could exercise religiously like I see so many people doing around here, but WHY would I want to? Perfect health is simply the slowest possible rate at which you can die. In most ways, we’re dead already. Luke the Drifter said it best when he sang, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
I go see my precious Granny every Tuesday. She can’t talk to me anymore. She can just barely feed herself and not even that some days. She can’t walk; she’s in diapers. I love her more than words can describe, but I don’t want to end up that way. Many of the inmates in the nursing home where Granny lives are the last members of their family. No one comes to see them. They are just taking their time dying in a warehouse of obsolete humanity, and there’s not a thing wrong with that, I just don’t want it to be me. Anyway, I was raised all my life to believe this live is just a dress rehearsal for what comes next. That’s where Mama is. That’s where I want to be. Right now, the only thing keeping me here is my Budge. I won’t leave her alone if I can help it.
So, see why I drive Dr. Lopez to distraction? Love y’all; keep those feet clean.