Moby Bob on the Beach

It was my first doctor's visit outside of Navy medicine in over thirty years. I wasn't looking forward to my dermatology appointment. But now that I've passed the great meridian, I'm eligible for Medicare. I never dreamed I'd actually live to collect on this.

Why, I remember when Lyndon Johnson signed the bill creating this thing. I didn't quite remember when he started dutifully dipping his big paw into my pocket in order to pay for this.

Since the dermatologist's office is right down the street from my Annapolis home, I ran over on my lunch hour. I tried to work up until the last minute, but my good wife shooed me out the door. And I forgot my reading glasses. No matter, I thought. I have all my paper work in hand.

Oops. The coldly efficient redhead at the doctor's office waved the intake papers at me impatiently. You need to fill out this again, this, and this and sign and date here and there, she said. Oh? That "Good Afternoon, Mr. Morrison" bit that I was so used to in Navy medicine? Fuggeddiboudit!

I'm now officially a gomer. What's a gomer? That's Navy medicine slang for "get out of my emergency room." They may talk that way behind your back, but at least to your face the military was always polite and respectful.  Redhead never looks up, never makes eye contact. I squint and strain to read and sign, but I'll be dashed if I say a word to her.

She waves me to a seat.  Whatever you do, I tell myself, don't drool.

Happily, doctor's nurse sweeps in and welcomes me with a handshake and a smile.

Keisha introduces herself and tells me the doctor will be with me momentarily. I settle in to read my Weekly Standard, or at least to look at the cartoons.

In just two minutes, Keisha ushers me into the doctor's office. I'm ordered to strip down to my underwear and put on the paper gown -- the one with the aerated back. Well, now, this is OK.  Doctor has wonderful Brazilian samba music on her office iPod.  Her wall is papered with Navy commendation certificates.  She's a Navy commander.  I know the drill. I'm married to a Navy captain.

Doctor comes in and greets me sweetly. She is barely five feet tall and cannot weigh more than a hundred pounds. I'm two hundred and plenty. Don't worry about the gown, she says. I'll soon talk you out of it.

Doctor is as friendly and funny as Redhead is cold and humorless. Is this intentional, I wonder? It is her way of reducing you to putty in her hands? It's as if she's signaling to you: You can cooperate with me, Buster, or I'll have to sic Redhead on you.

Doctor starts looking over my mug appraisingly. Growths, lesions (my lesions are legion), pre-cancerous this's and that's abound. Tsk tsk, all those summers on the water, she says, have taken their toll.  Hey, I see this map every morning when I shave.  How come I never noticed all this stuff?

In a minute, she has me standing in front of the mirror in my birthday suit. She's running around me like a sandpiper checking out a big white beached whale. Cheeks -- north and south -- are examined with clinical detachment.  Daddy parts, too.  Everything comes under her professional gaze.  I hadn't realized until I caught my reflection in the mirror that there was quite this much skin on me to be examined.

All the while, she is chatting amiably and very fast. "I can repeat any of this," she says cheerfully, "if you're unsure." "Nah, that's okay, Doctor, I'm a New Yorker; we talk fast, too." Quickly, she nips this and freezes that. In what seems like only a minute, my face looks like I've debated a beehive. But Doctor repeats the words biopsy and precancerous enough so that I say: Okay, okay, I'll do whatever you want, Doctor.

Before I know it, I'm outta there. With luck, the biopsy will come back negative. My first encounter with Medicine4geezers wasn't too bruising. And it sure filled me with renewed determination: Ya better take care of the equipment yourself if you want to avoid all this in future. I hadn't had so much fun since my colonoscopy fifteen years ago. When the Navy corpsmen at Bethesda asked me why I was smiling at the TV screen, I said my insides looked like a Manhattan subway tunnel, only cleaner. And what a joy it was not to see Bill Clinton on the tube.
It was my first doctor's visit outside of Navy medicine in over thirty years. I wasn't looking forward to my dermatology appointment. But now that I've passed the great meridian, I'm eligible for Medicare. I never dreamed I'd actually live to collect on this.

Why, I remember when Lyndon Johnson signed the bill creating this thing. I didn't quite remember when he started dutifully dipping his big paw into my pocket in order to pay for this.

Since the dermatologist's office is right down the street from my Annapolis home, I ran over on my lunch hour. I tried to work up until the last minute, but my good wife shooed me out the door. And I forgot my reading glasses. No matter, I thought. I have all my paper work in hand.

Oops. The coldly efficient redhead at the doctor's office waved the intake papers at me impatiently. You need to fill out this again, this, and this and sign and date here and there, she said. Oh? That "Good Afternoon, Mr. Morrison" bit that I was so used to in Navy medicine? Fuggeddiboudit!

I'm now officially a gomer. What's a gomer? That's Navy medicine slang for "get out of my emergency room." They may talk that way behind your back, but at least to your face the military was always polite and respectful.  Redhead never looks up, never makes eye contact. I squint and strain to read and sign, but I'll be dashed if I say a word to her.

She waves me to a seat.  Whatever you do, I tell myself, don't drool.

Happily, doctor's nurse sweeps in and welcomes me with a handshake and a smile.

Keisha introduces herself and tells me the doctor will be with me momentarily. I settle in to read my Weekly Standard, or at least to look at the cartoons.

In just two minutes, Keisha ushers me into the doctor's office. I'm ordered to strip down to my underwear and put on the paper gown -- the one with the aerated back. Well, now, this is OK.  Doctor has wonderful Brazilian samba music on her office iPod.  Her wall is papered with Navy commendation certificates.  She's a Navy commander.  I know the drill. I'm married to a Navy captain.

Doctor comes in and greets me sweetly. She is barely five feet tall and cannot weigh more than a hundred pounds. I'm two hundred and plenty. Don't worry about the gown, she says. I'll soon talk you out of it.

Doctor is as friendly and funny as Redhead is cold and humorless. Is this intentional, I wonder? It is her way of reducing you to putty in her hands? It's as if she's signaling to you: You can cooperate with me, Buster, or I'll have to sic Redhead on you.

Doctor starts looking over my mug appraisingly. Growths, lesions (my lesions are legion), pre-cancerous this's and that's abound. Tsk tsk, all those summers on the water, she says, have taken their toll.  Hey, I see this map every morning when I shave.  How come I never noticed all this stuff?

In a minute, she has me standing in front of the mirror in my birthday suit. She's running around me like a sandpiper checking out a big white beached whale. Cheeks -- north and south -- are examined with clinical detachment.  Daddy parts, too.  Everything comes under her professional gaze.  I hadn't realized until I caught my reflection in the mirror that there was quite this much skin on me to be examined.

All the while, she is chatting amiably and very fast. "I can repeat any of this," she says cheerfully, "if you're unsure." "Nah, that's okay, Doctor, I'm a New Yorker; we talk fast, too." Quickly, she nips this and freezes that. In what seems like only a minute, my face looks like I've debated a beehive. But Doctor repeats the words biopsy and precancerous enough so that I say: Okay, okay, I'll do whatever you want, Doctor.

Before I know it, I'm outta there. With luck, the biopsy will come back negative. My first encounter with Medicine4geezers wasn't too bruising. And it sure filled me with renewed determination: Ya better take care of the equipment yourself if you want to avoid all this in future. I hadn't had so much fun since my colonoscopy fifteen years ago. When the Navy corpsmen at Bethesda asked me why I was smiling at the TV screen, I said my insides looked like a Manhattan subway tunnel, only cleaner. And what a joy it was not to see Bill Clinton on the tube.

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