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Thursday, 30 August
A Medical History

At age four, I contracted a nasty ear infection. Two of them, actually! One for each ear. I remember we were on some road trip--my childhood consisted of any number of ill-remembered road trips, suggesting that my parents were, for a while, rootless hippies, which they were, sort of--and I was lying in the back seat of the car, moaning softly, by which I mean loudly.

At some point, I was taken to the hospital, where it was discovered that my ears were, thanks to the infection, filled with compacted dried blood. This was excellent news to hear as a small child, and I soberly responded by immediately making a Barry Sandersesque break for the door, figuring that nothing good was going to happen next. However, as my legs were 18" long, I was easily intercepted.

When the docs held me down and vacuumed out the muck from my ear canals, my mother heard my screams all the way down the hall. This was, by her report, my very first post-innocent-repeating-babytalk utterance of the phrase "fuck you." I think Dad got a talking to.


I have a very clear memory, I think age five or six, of being at the doctor's office, and for whatever reason, they deemed it necessary to take my temperature . . . the bad way. I thrashed like the world's tiniest professional wrestler on fire, screaming--let me see if I can remember . . . oh, yes!--"NO! NO! NO! NO!" I do not remember if I deployed a few "fuck you"s this time around, and my mom has no memory of this particular violation.

In the end--oh, shut up--it was really kind of dumb. They finally got me to stop shouting long enough to inform me that they were done. "You are?" I said, totally confounded. In the tumult, I hadn't felt a thing. "That's good," I said. I felt a little victorious about the whole thing.


A year or so later, my parents were concerned because of weird cold-like symptoms that would not go away. Wheezing, runny nose, sneezing, the whole bit. Back to the doctor, who figured it out more or less instantly:

"Does he sleep with a feather pillow?" My mom the nurse hadn't thought of the obvious: I had allergies. "Let's find out what he's allergic to," said the doctor.

Do they still do this shit? Because if so, fuck you, medicine. Here's what they did in my day: I took off my shirt and laid down on my stomach while the doctor cut my bare fucking back with a bunch of histological provocateurs. He cut me over and over. Doctors are sadists. Anyway, whatever got red and angry and itchy, I was allergic to!

I was allergic to goddamn fucking everything, and now my back looked like a Stratego board. "He's allergic to," said the doctor, staring dubiously at this incredible litany of everything, "most grasses, hay, straw, animal dander, pollen, Delaware, school sports, human contact, combs, the works of Immanuel Kant, floors, walls, phone books, the concept of emotional blackmail, and house dust." He smiled pleasantly while I thought, house dust? Living as we did in, you know, a house, this sounded like the shits.

We got rid of the feather pillows. The house dust, not so much. It's dust. I spent a good portion of my childhood getting halfway up the stairs in the spring and then having to stop to catch my breath before I could finish the job. One flight of stairs. It would make my mother cry. To this day, I can't look at cottonwood trees without feelings of naked loathing. Happily, Seattle has no cottonwood trees. In fact, Seattle has apparently no allergens at all, as I haven't had an allergy attack in twelve years here.

"Oh, he's also asthmatic," the doctor explained to us. For a period of a year or so, I had to have a weekly shot to control this delightful condition.

So it's only natural that I grew up and became a smoker. I hope that doctor is dead.


In fifth grade, my teacher asked me to read something off the blackboard. I squinted, and couldn't make it out. He contacted my parents, who took me to an optometrist. My eyesight was truly horrible, and I was fitted with glasses. We were not a rich family, so I got to choose from the delightful array of horrific plastic glasses frames that are made by shaky buskers in Poland. I looked like an Aryan Henry Kissinger, I wore clothes from Goodwill, and I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without my alveoli sending up rescue flares.

"I think you need to take a school sport," my father informed me around this time.


When I got my physical in order to qualify for school sports--required--the kindly old doctor totally fondled my balls. This was horrifying. Clinical, professional and horrifying.

"You're fine," he said at the end of it all.

I'm allergic to the world, asthmatic, blind and I look like a junior war criminal, I thought. Doctors are fucking stupid. Plus, he touched my balls.


I have since had my balls groped many other times, in strange contexts, by doctors. This despite my total reluctance to visit doctors at all. Doctors are all ball fetishists. "I have this thing with my arm hair," you might say. "I'd better feel your balls!" the doctor will say.


I forgot to tell you about when I was hospitalized when I was four--allergies? It's lost to me--where I was horribly thirsty, but I was not allowed liquids except for ice chips wrapped in a damp washcloth, which I desperately sucked on for hours. Or when my eyes swelled shut on multiple occasions, generally due to the existence of cats. Doctors were summoned, and when they weren't slicing up my back, they were giving me ice chips in washcloths, and then were probably reaching down to cup my balls.


I think I might have to go to the doctor. I don't have a regular doctor, so I assume that this will be a total nightmare, paperwork-wise. I've had this fucking cold--if it is a cold--that simply won't go away, and so I suppose I need to go to a professional ball-handler to tell me, "Oh, God, you're stupid, here's some antibiotics, get lost," right after he clinically and professionally hefts my sack.

I swear to God, if I see a cat that day, I'm going to kick it to death.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


Your disdain for the ball handlers makes me laugh. I'm the patient they hate, the one who in the middle of childbirth stops to say, "no, you won't be taking a blood sample" the one who says, "no, you will not put that thermometer up my child's ass" the one who says, "interesting refusal to refer me, can you sign this statement for my records?" I hope you take it out on them instead of the cat.

Comment number: 014807   Posted by: em on August 31, 2007 12:47 AM from IP:

Man, I haven't experienced schadenfreude that delicious in a long time. Thanks, Skot. You're alright!

Comment number: 014815   Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on August 31, 2007 06:52 AM from IP:

Good to see you & ther missus last night.

I only hope the two of you get to experience corn & crabs--Maryland-style--firsthand for yourselves some day...

Comment number: 014817   Posted by: Suzanne on August 31, 2007 09:47 AM from IP:

Yes, Skot, they still do that checker-board technique to test for allergies. It's like the fucking middle ages. Guess what? They couldn't figure out what I'm allergic to!

"Well, according to this, you're slightly allergic to cats, and... nothing else!" (NB: Cats make my lungs clench up tighter than a drunken sailor's fist. I'd hate to think what would happen if I were really allergic to them.) My disdain for allergy "specialists" knows no bounds.

Comment number: 014818   Posted by: Ian J on August 31, 2007 10:03 AM from IP:

I've been to a hundred million doctors in the last 4 years. All but 1 was an asshole.

Comment number: 014822   Posted by: Bitter Betty on August 31, 2007 12:37 PM from IP:

Oh yeah? Well, my medical provider (when I've had one) is affectionately known around these parts as Group Death. My doctor, when confronted with my pretty obvious allergy symptoms ("well doc, it's like a cold that I get every year at about the same time that hangs around for three months or so") told me this:
"Well, every time I do one of those tests on somebody like you, it comes back that they're allergic to dust or grass or some other thing that is more or less impossible to eliminate. So what I'd like to do instead is to write you a prescription for this steroid-based inhaler, which I'm going to do anyway no matter what your test results are, and send you on your way. Get out of my office."

The fact that his approach saves the HMO a bunch of money did not escape me. Although to his credit, in all my visits to his office he has never once even offered to fondle my sack. For all I know that's another edict from accounting: "We need to cut down on the number of minutes in an office visit. From now on no sack-handling unless the patient specifically demands it in writing."

Feel better?

Comment number: 014830   Posted by: flamingbanjo on September 1, 2007 03:03 PM from IP:

I'll take ball handling over prostate checking any day of the week.

Comment number: 014832   Posted by: btroffded on September 1, 2007 06:02 PM from IP:

Twice a year a doctor sticks a dish-brush into my junk and scraaaapes it around. Once I threw up, it hurt so bad. Mostly I just bleed into my underwear for 16 hours.

So, yeah, ball-fondling.

Comment number: 014859   Posted by: Linsey on September 5, 2007 08:24 PM from IP:

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