Posted by: Peadar Ban | December 26, 2014

A Letter to My Doctor

I will soon see my doctor.  It will be time for my annual visit with the nice lady, and wanting her to be prepared, I thought writing her a little note describing what was going on with me since we last met would be a good thing to do.  She is good company, and I think of her as less my doctor and more a hostess.  She has lovely eyes.  On our first meeting I called attention to that fact.  She smiled (a lovely smile) and said, “That is what my name means.”  How good of her parents to notice, I thought, and God to provide.

December 26, 2014
Dear Dr. G.
   I thought I would write down a few things which have occurred, are occurring now, and may continue to occur right up until we meet again sometime in a few weeks; an encounter which I trust will be as interesting to you as it is to me. As a help, then, to your work, and a help, also, to me on the morning after Christmas when things are so quiet I must do something, anything I’ll begin. May it amuse you and be as pleasant a pastime reading, as it amuses me and passes my time pleasantly in the writing.
   I visited my dermatologist’s office a couple of weeks ago. The P.A. who has been looking at my warts, carbuncles, and pre-cancerous keratoses for these several years (A direct result of my “Cheap Irish Skin”, a condition no doubt dealt with extensively in the literature, a separate diagnosis in itself, a chapter ending in the term “hopelessly untreatable” .) took great interest in that red thing which I have chosen to think of as my own “Great Red Spot”, a rival to Jupiter’s of the same name, and wondered what I was doing for it…aside from regular feedings. I told him of your prescription, and he said he could burn it off with his cold gas canister which more resembles a plumber’s soldering torch than anything I’ve ever seen in a Doctor’s Office. That leads me to wonder how closely the two “arts” are related. “Fine!” I said. He applied his suggested treatment. Today, as I stepped from the shower and dried off my right leg, I swear it winked at me. I shall return to the “roids” this evening. It had diminished in size, and I wonder, now, if it hadn’t simply reached a more healthy weight.
   Moving a little lower on my right leg, I noticed that my Great Toe (Not yet a tourist attraction along the lines of the Great Barrier Reef, but I have hopes.) began on its own initiative, and without the normal “stubbing” against a wall, a chair leg, or a naughty child’s backside, to hurt like hell. I cannot remember ever having mistreated it in such a fashion that it would seek a prolonged and painful revenge lasting quite long enough for me to consider its amputation on at least one occasion; I was that angry at its behavior. For a while, each evening as I tried sweet reason, it would glare up at me, red with anger on its upper right side, and I feared it would begin to affect the other toes behaviors. No such thing has yet occurred, but, though it has not continued to scream each time I pull a stocking on, it does let me know that its anger lurks not too far from the surface; its occasional growls and continuing sour disposition reminding me of our falling out; whose reason puzzles though as yet does not worry me too much. I have given up, though, all thought of attempting a career in my retirement as a “kicker” of field goals and such.
   We jump now to my elbows, carefully please, they are fragile things; both of which were the occasion for our last brief visit. And, both of which you expertly diagnosed as being guilty of tendonitis. My left elbow is still the worst offender, though it affords me the grudging liquidity of enough movement to allow the tying of a bow tie without too much pain. The right elbow, while not as angry with me as its sibling, is reluctant to help in such tasks as hand shaking without stabbing (but entirely bearable) pain during such things as closing my hand tightly on an object, or even on nothing. Funnily enough, there is nothing of the sort taking place when I do this with my left hand…in either elbow. Neither is there pain in my left elbow, when I grasp something with my right hand. I have managed to understand how the latter of these conditions is the case, but, I do not understand why my left elbow is so sanguine about my left hand grasping something when my right elbow forbids such a thing.
   You may have to read the preceding paragraph more than once. I wrote it, and I cannot understand it even now without two readings. That says something, I suppose, about my mind; a matter which may frighten or intrigue you. I will say I have never taken mind altering drugs, though I did work in Washington, D.C., for three years when a much younger person. Therein may lie a reason and a diagnosis.
   In any event, my right elbow hurts when I shake hands. Oddly enough it seems to hurt me more when I shake the hand of a person I do not particularly wish to shake hands with. ( I apologize for the prepositional ending. I did try.) Try as I might to prevent it, I sometimes will find my right arm extending itself autonomously in such situations; the resulting pain causes a slight grimace which is at least not good manners. The excuse of tendonitis, while effective and facile, is wearing thin among the suspicious; some of whom are relatives. I suppose I could start using my left hand, but I know there are many who would accuse me of effete affectation. Maybe I will just stop shaking hands altogether. I have learned. almost, the art of drinking a pint of ale with my left hand.
   I’m coming to the end, Doctor, and both of us must be happy for that. I know I am. When I started this, I hoped it wouldn’t be too long. I still hold out hope. To that end I’ve not talked about anything between my shoulders and my hips. There may be children around, you know.
   Both of my hips hurt, the tin one and the one that doesn’t exist anymore; the right side one. But, though I cannot run, either as far or as fast as once long ago, I am more careful crossing a street as a result, and have grown used to the difference in the length of my legs.  It also helps that no one is chasing me.  My feet are another problem. They both hurt all the time such that if my elbows were in better shape I’d give serious thought to learning to walk with my hands. (Now, there’s a solution to my hand shaking problem!)
   I spoke with my daughter, and one or two old guys who have experience in the matter. “Sit down more!” one said. My daughter suggested I talk to you about it. She’s a nurse and doesn’t want me to sue her for bad medical advice I guess. But she did suggest I pay more attention to my shoes. I have started polishing them more regularly, but I suspect this may not be enough.
   Finally, standing for more than ten or so minutes begins to hurt my lower back, too, leading me to think that my lumbar spine is taking on the properties of what the northerners call “corn snow”, though I cannot think how that would occur. I’ve never frozen my spine, though I have on occasion nearly frozen my butt off.
   I shall end, now, and hope that your New Year is a pleasant and happy one. Mine certainly will be.  Approaching the clubhouse turn in this race as I am, I look forward with some eagerness to the home stretch and the finish and the trip to the Winner’s Circle before a nice cool down and the green pastures.
Healthy regards,
Peter
PS: You may always call me Peter. The only people who call me Mr. Gallaher are police officers and librarians.  I’ll continue to call you Doctor, of course.  It’s my thought it should be the case unless one’s on the golf course with a doctor.  Then, unless one beats one’s doctor like a rented mule, first names are just fine.  Should he lose, of course, one owes him the shred of dignity attending on all those years of medical school, etc.; not to mention all that money and time spent with the Pro.  I did show this little note to my long suffering wife.  She smiled, and probably said a prayer for you.

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