In Doctor Godot's Waiting Room
Will de Kypia

New prints on the wall.
Sailboats at rest in the harbor.

A nautical theme appropriate for the patients
becalmed here, all of us hoping the wind of good
tidings will soon fill our sagging sails so we may
resume a tranquil passage across the sea of life.

Meanwhile, we can peruse the usual suspects
to be found in any respectable doctor’s office.

Golf World. Tennis World.
The Wide World of Yachting.

We even have some unusual suspects.

Savage—no, it’s Savvy Investing,
really need to get my eyes checked again.

Fit4Life suggests that we guys
“Flex the Sex: Kegels for Men.”

Terminal Geriatrics introduces us to
“Pneumonia: Your Last Best Friend.” 

MedChatter wants to chat about
“Twenty-Four Essential Medical Tests.”

They don’t do the annual physical like they used to.
You stepped on the scale, said “ah,” peed, coughed,
kicked, then got your prize: a clean bill of health.

Unless you didn’t.

The 70,000-mile check-up, a grim-faced 
mechanic pulls the little woman aside.

“His mitral valve is shot and we’ll have to remove the
whole rocker-arm assembly. We could order parts but
with his mileage a replacement makes more sense.
Reliable, much cheaper to operate, better MPG.
I’ll be in my office if you want a test drive.”

Now they torment you with their twenty-four tests.
Slap on the cuff every time you walk in the door,
inform you that your blood pressure is up again,
then draw more blood for more tests. Vampires,
sucking so much blood we should all be anemic.

After a certain age, a man knows that he must
measure out his remaining years in medical tests.
So many of this one, so many of that, the results
worsening with each repetition. Until he fails the
final examination when the ultimate physician
will require that he settle his account in full.

To begin the process, off to your primary care
doctor who will want a CBC. More blood.

EEG, nothing wrong with my brain.

EKG, how ticks the old ticker?

There are thyroid and pre-diabetes screenings,
the fecal occult blood test—Lovecraft would love
that—and a double-contrast barium enema.
Double bubble, my innards are in trouble.

Colonoscopy every ten years or sigmoidoscopy
every five, that always sounds Freudian to me.

Are you now or have you ever been a smoker? 
Spiral CT scan for lung cancer, yeah, I’ve seen
lung cancer. The ankle-brachial index and the
carotid artery ultrasound for stroke, maybe.

Transferrin? The TIBC? Nowadays, to be a truly
informed patient you need to go to med school.

At least I have insurance, good insurance.
You hear about people without, like…
Who was it?

I’m forever half-remembering things.
Maybe I need to see a shrink.

Why is a brainpan like a bedpan?
They’re both full of crap, ha ha.

In the old days tests were simple and
the results were easy to understand.
Cholesterol was high or it was not high.

Then things got complicated with this good and bad
cholesterol stuff. The LDL/HDL ratio, triglyceride levels,
three main types of lipids, the fasting lipoprotein test.

Too complicated for me.

Next test, the aneurysm scan. Why?
You’re cruising at 60 miles an hour, sudden
blowout, it’s over. That’s a great way to go.
I want that one. Or else I want a gun.

The gender tree tells me no transvaginal
ultrasound, CA125, or Pap smear. Instead
I get the PSA as well as the dreaded DRE.

And of course besides the GP we have
all those medical specialists too.

Everyone should have “a biannual dental exam
every six months.” Sure. But “biannual” manages
to be simultaneously ambiguous and superfluous.
Change to “semiannual” then delete.

Ophthalmologist, previously noted.

Visit your dermatologist once a year.
Actinic keratoses. Three main skin cancers.
All that sun…serve me right if…

There are even some do-it-yourself tests.
Monthly testicular self-exam in the shower,
popular at any age. Oral self-exam in mirror
for signs of erythroplakia or leukoplakia,
illustrations below. Less popular.

Reading about these afflictions could turn
you into a hypochondriac, obsessively reciting
a catalogue of mostly imaginary complaints.

“Doctor, there was blood on my toothbrush 
this morning, my bowels are always loose,
and the lesion in my soul will not heal.”

Being alive means waiting to die.
An old man going under the knife is
last season’s chaff ready to be burned.
Not much heat to give, no light, mostly
bad smells plus the kind of smoke that
leaves a smudge on his friends.

Well…Enough medical melancholia for one office visit.
I'll go back to those comforting
slicks already pawed over
by a plague of worried sick folk in search of distraction.

National Geographic, still the same.
The New Yorker, not the same.
The newsweaklies, practically
People clones.
Truth Fishing—no, it’s…

_____________Yes, that's me.
_____________Thanks, I can find it.
_____________I’ve been here before.

What's in a name?
Click to see