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Shell Shocked: The stress test that produced stress

By Staff | Aug 30, 2017

I recently took a stress test. I was forced to review my bank account with various wires hooked up to me. I didn’t pass the stress test.

I then took a sleep apnea test. It too failed because my chronic case of insomnia prohibited my sleeping even five minutes.

I then took an echo cardiogram. But as hard as the technicians tried, they couldn’t produce a solid echo. They even tried it on a mountain top but all they heard were coyote howls.

I’m just no good at medical tests. I fail them all. Something snaps in me when I’m lying on a table with tape and wires all over me. Maybe it reminds me of movie scenes of men in electric chairs. It’s certainly the same set up.

And then there were the blood tests. I’m the only patient in the world who doesn’t produce blood during routine blood tests. Nothing comes out. It’s as though my body is saying “not to me, you don’t.” I say to my body that this test is important and will generate a diagnosis that could keep me alive for another hundred years. But my body says “nothing doing. It says it’s my blood and I’m not sharing it with anyone.”

Even my chest x-ray produced a false alarm. The radiologist thought he saw tiny clots lining my lungs but upon more detailed analysis he discovered left over pizza.

I have a bad right knee. The orthopedist says it’s bone on bone, which is another way of saying I better get that knee replacement before my leg falls off. Instead I pleaded for a cortisone shot to see if it would help me get around better. The doc took a very long needle. It was almost as long as the garden hose I use to water my plants. I thought to myself how could so much liquid go into one knee? Wouldn’t it just leak out of my ears when I walked around afterwards? But lo and behold after what seemed like an eternal mini-second, the cortisone injection was completed.

I got up from the table feeling like a new man. I immediately did six hand stands, four somersaults and a 10-mile run. The orthopedist was all smiley when I returned to his office soaking wet. He told me my knee would be good for another four months and to make an appointment for the next injection. He disavowed me of the notion that my leg would fall off on its own if I didn’t come back in time.

The docs also had me take an x-ray of my neck. They wanted to see why I was able to turn my head totally around like the young girl in “The Exorcist.” I don’t know why I was able to do that but it sure helped me out when I was suspicious of someone walking behind me down a dark street. I could keep on walking while turning my head fully around. If this didn’t frighten a would-be mugger off nothing would.

The docs were confounded by my ability to do this. To the outside world this movement was grotesque and would normally require the skills of an exorcist to cure. But to me it was the most natural thing in the world. I would get my jollies by spinning my head around like a top and scaring the hell out of little children.

The most obscure medical test I ever took was to diagnose those symptoms that made me turn into the Hulk. The docs were astonished that I could transform from a 170-pound couch potato to a 300-pound green-skinned deranged super hero. And I could do it at the drop of a hat. All anyone had to do to bring on my Hulk persona was to drop a hat on the floor. I could do the transition more quickly if the hat were a Yankee baseball cap.

I’m fully aware that the practice of medicine has produced dramatic breakthroughs in both diagnosis and treatment. Young males with acne are now living longer and more productive lives. And the common cold is now so prevalent that it’s become uncommon not to have one twice a year.

Major medical breakthroughs are now the norm. The best is yet to come. But they’re not coming fast enough for me. The medical tests I take are total failures because none of them work. They tell the doctors nothing except for the fact that I appear to have been born on another planet. I’m not really sure if I’m healthy or not. I eat the right foods. I exercise. And I watch Dr. Oz. And I adhere to his oft stated axiom: if you can’t get water from a stone drink beer instead.

-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.