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The medical malady and the test machine

It seems that everything is much clearer to me now, which I attribute to a quite upsetting little amnesia period that happened a month ago. For sure, nothing was clear to me during that couple of hours. Total (almost) blank.

According to Google -- without a doubt, the reigning medical authority of us Web-browsing 21-st century computer-savvy information junkies -- such brief "transient" amnestic episodes occur in the general population frequently enough that some general "triggers" of those brief memory losses are identifiable. Stress. Dehydration. Cold water shock. Intercourse. Some or all of them together.

As the next few years go by, it seems that one of the long list of clarifications to which I am coming will be the general medical situations which my age leads me into. In other words, this column stands a large risk of becoming one big whine. "My back hurts." "My bowels are stuck." "My knee is swoll up." "Can't start peeing." "Can't stop peeing." Etc.

With some luck, we'll keep the whining to a minimum, and only tell the interesting stuff.

One interesting bit is my lovely woman doctor, whom I recommend to other men as preferable to other doctors for several reasons, the most interesting of which is, I tell them, that "she has small hands." (Important to a male; don't know if there's a feminine gender parallel. Don't want to know, either.)

She's also unique, in her attention to detail, willingness to take time with you, and general feeling of thoroughness when she's done with you. This, after several more encounters with various members of the medical community, spawned by the amnesia thing above, is clearer to me, it seems. Several specialists, to whom I was referred, gave me the feeling that I had interfered somehow with their schedules.

My last issue of AARP magazine (here's some more stuff you wouldn't have gotten from me when I was younger) had an article titled: "When to say no to a doctor."

Whew. Those words played across my mind as a neurologist, which is where you go after your mind plays the amnesia trick on you, requested some blood tests after he could find nothing wrong with my brain by squeezing my fingers and making me do the drunk-walk test.

I watched the blood-sucking nurse begin to count out those small blood sample containers on her desk beside me. I let her get to 13, 14, 15, before I jumped in and asked: "What's the record? Have I got a chance of beating it?"

Sixteen went on the table before she replied. "I've done 21." I didn't care for the vampiric glint in her eye, so I remained silent. She quit at 16. I didn't challenge.

Every time the mail comes now, there's another sheet of paper full of the results of those tests. That makes five sheets. They cannot find much. Such a lack of evidence of evidence doesn't stop them, though. It only makes them look -- and test -- harder. They followed the blood work with every test known to doctors that begins with "E." Electrodes screwed into the neck. Electrodes screwed into the scalp. Electrodes pasted to my chest. (Ladies out there: One word -- ouch!)

The EEG, which measures brain activity, did have me worried at first, especially when I saw the screen and it looked like a sixties television set after the station blew up. "Close your eyes, it'll clear up," she told me. The windows to the soul apparently drive the brain and its activity levels out the roof.

This test did worry me. What if all those electrodes, spun into painful contact with my skull, showed, for example, no activity. That has been a concern at times, as I've backed away from situations involving imminent explosion or fire or bent metal. Yup, I've said to myself more than twice, as I viewed some disaster, that showed no brains whatsoever. A couple times, I had just enough brain left to call the fire department.

There was activity, it seems. The letter said everything, once again, was normal.

So, about all the stuff that is becoming clearer to me: Most of it involves the field of medicine, about which one must conclude a couple of things. One: No doctor worth his diploma is going to pass up the chance for a referral. (Do they get a percentage? That might explain some of the motivation.) Two: There's always another specialist, and the hope that he or she will find something wrong. Three: It appears that, when customers used to call me to look at their furnace, or air conditioning, or refrigerator, or whatever, that there was more that could have been done. I could have been the repair guy who first hooked electrodes to a Kelvinator and ran an EKG (ElectroKelvinatorGraph) on it. Think of how much more business that would have generated. What was I thinking? It's all so clear to me now -- now that it's too late.

Well, it's not too late for another doctor, a specialist in exotic blood diseases and maladies, coming up in a couple of weeks. I wish I could sneak in some chicken blood, or something, have them run that through their testing.

Wouldn't that just make their day?