On occasion I’ve been known to assume the worst in medical situations. Take the condition which resulted in this morning’s trip to the doctor, for example. I’ve been experiencing a bizarre crunching sensation in my ear for the past several days. Naturally, I reached the only logical conclusion: “tumor.” And since I could already hear the cancer crackling, I figured it must’ve grown beyond the point of removal.
Although resigned to meet my maker, I nonetheless scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician. He’s a humorless personality I sarcastically refer to as “Dr. Chuckles,” though thus far only to myself. As always, I internally questioned the merits of the obligatory weigh-in, wondering how my weight would help diagnose the cancerous growth within my auditory canal. I also questioned the need for the equally-obligatory measurement of my vital statistics. As I saw it, the expanding squatter in my skull wouldn’t take a holiday while the nurse paused to take my temperature and pulse.
When Dr. Chuckles finally made his appearance, I explained the dire situation. Then I showed him the “do not resuscitate” order contained in my Living Will, a copy of which I’d brought along just in case I happened to flatline during the examination.
The physician listened intently, assuming an admirable air of gravitas for the duration of my recital. He grabbed a doohickey with a built-in flashlight and used it to take a peak inside my ear. After what felt like only a few seconds, Dr. Chuckles … chuckled. That’s when I deduced why I’d never heard him laugh before. Apparently, only terminal conditions jiggled his funny bone. I imagined him doing standup routines in pediatric cancer wards, mocking the soon-to-be-departed.
Opting for the high road, I chose to ignore the lout’s sociopathic bedside manner and instead focused on the matter most near and dear to my heart: “Give it to me straight Doc. How much time do I have?”
I thought it a clear enough question yet it appeared to confuse the man: “Time, Richard? What are you talking about?”
I didn’t much appreciate having to spell things out: “I’m talking about the tumor in my ear! How long before it finishes me?”
I’d thought his prior chuckle inappropriate, yet it paled in comparison to the rude howls of laughter my question elicited. Tears streamed from his eyes before he calmed sufficiently to answer: “A tumor? Oh,
that’s a good one. You, my friend, do not have a tumor. What you suffer from is an impressive case of earwax.”
An Otoscope — you know, for looking inside an ear