Friday, June 16, 2006

The State of The State I’m In

BY MICHAEL WATT Ask Mr. Long Island

Last week I had my annual physical which means this week I write my annual column complaining…err, commenting on my annual physical.

Unlike most people, I usually look forward to my annual physical because I see it as a reward of sorts for the stuff that I DON'T do during the year. I don’t drink alcohol or coffee. I don’t smoke. I don’t eat a lot of red meat and I don’t eat ice cream every night of the week like I used to. (As this is being written I can hear my friend Corcoran of Babylon saying “sounds like you don’t have a lot of fun, either,” but that’s another column for another day.) There’s no point in going into why I no longer do any of these things; I just don’t. All I ask in return for not doing them is to hear my doctor say to me once a year, “Wow! You’re in phenomenal shape.” I’d even settle for, “You’re in phenomenal shape for a guy your age.” Is that too much to ask?

Apparently it is.

For starters, the doctor giving me the physical looked as if he is only a couple of weeks removed from the Mosh Pit on MTV’s Spring Break. (Do the kids still do the Mosh Pit thing? Does MTV still do “Spring Break”? Is MTV still around?) That’s one of the weirder aspects of aging. First you have to get used to the cops on patrol being younger than you. Then your kids’ school teachers and coaches. Then the nurses and doctors. I know I will be officially old when I am senior to the priests at Church

Anyway, Dr. Doogie takes a look at my chart and tells me my “bad” cholesterol has gone up markedly since my last physical. I would have punched him if I felt my heart could stand the strain from a sudden burst of activity.

Memo to Doogie. This is the part where you tell me how you wish you were in as good a shape as I am now. Instead I barked, “How can my cholesterol be up? I eat salads. I eat oatmeal. I get my five daily servings of fresh fruit and vegetables. I drink nothing but seltzer and water. THERE’S NO WAY I COULD LIVE MY LIFE ANY HEALTHIER WITHOUT JOINING A MONASTERY. THERE’S NOTHING LEFT FOR ME TO GIVE UP! Ewell Gibbons himself couldn’t do it any better.”

Well, that last comment had about as much impact as the Al Gore movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” I neglected to realize that unless Dr. Doogie did a stint at the advertising Hall of Fame he would have no idea who Ewell Gibbons was. As Phil Hartman used to say, “Humorous reference wasted on youthful audience.” But the frustrated-bordering-on pleading tone of my voice must have gotten to the young Doc. He tried to comfort me by saying, “Well, your ‘good’ cholesterol is also up. Besides, as you get older no matter what you do your ‘bad’ cholesterol tends to increase. There’s not a lot you can do about it.”

“Oh really?” I said. “Then how do you explain all those commercials clogging the airways for drugs that reduce cholesterol?”

He assured me that my bad cholesterol, although higher, was still in what is considered “acceptable range” and that would not have to pay any attention to those ads for at least another year. I told him I was taking Fish Oil (with Omega 3) supplements and he asked me about the dosage. I take 300 milligrams a day. He told me my body needs 3,000 milligrams daily. Yikes! I was either going to have increase my dosage ten-fold or learn how to spear Salmon with my bare hands.

Then he asked me if I was having any trouble “throwing the football through the tire.” I assured him that the only problem I have with erectile dysfunction is spelling it. I think he wanted to ask why I would need to spell it if I did not have any problems there (not everybody gets my delightful sense of humor) but I also think he wanted to get me the hell out of there as soon as possible so he did not.

Then the ‘C’ word came up: Colonoscopy. As if to get me warmed up to the idea he let me know that at 46 I was “still a couple of years away” from having to have a colonoscopy but that I should start thinking about it.

I do not consider myself to be on the squeamish side, so I wish I could come up with a good reason for being so reluctant to undergo this process. I certainly get no sympathy from my wife, Sharon. I suppose once you’ve gone through the birthing process twice and cranked out two kids weighing a total of nearly 20 pounds, any griping about a once-a-year pokey poke will fall on deaf ears.

Since he brought up the colonoscopy it was my turn to want to get the hell out of there. I made a mental note to keep my mouth shut for the rest of the physical and my strategy paid off. I was out of there in a flash and thought about next year. If nothing else, at least the doctor will be a year older, too,

Thank you for reading this column.

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