Let's Get Physical

Written by: Tony Harris, December 3, 2015



I just got back from a routine physical exam. It was a tad overdue, I admit, but I was not overly admonished.

I did have to have an EKG. “Just pull the gown down to your waist” so the instructions go. Then multiple sensors are stuck to various parts of your chest. “Now just lie back and relax” I’m told. How can I do that I ask myself? Knowing shortly I will painfully lose half the hair on my chest as these little stickers are removed. Instructions can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. The airplane safety instruction card explains oxygen masks will fall from above your head, then it tells you to place the mask over your nose and mouth and to breathe normally. So you’re 30 odd thousand feet above the ground in a large tin can. There is obviously a problem with maintaining it at that altitude and we are asked to ‘breathe normally’. I think I’d be producing a lot of methane gas and not just because being lighter than air, it might help keep us up.

Lying on a beach in the Caribbean with a large rum and a splash of coke, the sea gently lapping on the white silken sands; I can relax. But naked, bar a gown that affords little modesty, with multiple wires connecting me to this whirring machine, not so much. I am concerned that the noises are in some way relevant. Now it starts to whine, is this an indication of some imminent cessation of key bodily functions? Breathe normally I tell myself. No; I’m confusing the instructions, relax. That’s right as Frankie says “relax don’t do it…” Now I begin to panic: I have to relax or psychosomatic effects will tar the results. I try to calm myself, I’m just getting a physical I tell myself. Then Olivia Newton John pops up and tells me: that there is nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontal. So I close my eyes and try and forget Olivia and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and pretend I’m in the Caribbean.

Good news I passed the tests. So other than a little unrequested manscaping, I am unscathed. However, it does drive home the point that equipment that is used in a doctor – patient situation needs to be quiet. In the summer we worked on system for ultrasonic breast imaging and acoustic noise was an important factor. I can understand why.




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