and i don’t know why
feel like letting my freak flag fly
and i feel like i owe it
— the prophet crosby
fill-in doctor: Hello. I’m blah blah, your annoying fill-in doctor. (this may not be an exact quote. I wasn’t taking notes.)
me: Weird. You don’t look like a runner at all.
fill-in doctor: I’m not. So how have you been feeling?
me: Much better, thanks. The Tour de France iron infusions seem to be working. I’m able to run a bit again, and my Vo2 max is coming back up.
fill-in doctor: Huh. Have you started taking iron pills?
me: Not yet. They just canceled the Ironman here and I didn’t know if that would affect things. (sadly, no monkey with drum set standing by for rim shot.)
fill-in doctor: Well, your numbers look better, so that’s a good sign.
me: Whatever. Is this the part where we talk about my new running shoes?
fill-in doctor: No, this is the part where we talk about how your PET scan shows your cancer may have morphed into a more aggressive form. We need to do a biopsy of one of the lymph nodes, and if it has, then we will start chemo immediately because it’s much more serious.
me: But they’re shoes made by a tiny start-up company in Austin. Super lightweight. Sold by subscription; they show up at your door magically every three months. It’s like Jehovah’s Witnesses without the pamphlets. Best shoes I’ve ever had except for maybe the Piranhas. It’s hard to beat a shoe named after a killer fish.
fill-in doctor: Huh. OK, we’ll get that biopsy scheduled as soon as possible. Try not to worry; it might be nothing.
me: And nothing is EXACTLY how much these shoes weigh. Where did you go to medical school? Have you no sense of priorities?
fill-in doctor: OK, we’ll get the results from that, and the pictures from sending a Polaroid camera through your entire GI system (she actually used some clinical term for this procedure because apparently “Polaroid” is a copyrighted term), and then we’ll get back to you. Your next visit will be with your regular doctor.
me: Thank God. I’ll try to hang on until then, because I really need to discuss these shoes with someone.
moral: Never take your doctor for granted. Most doctors apparently just want to talk about doctor stuff. What’s the point of $5,000 in medical bills if you can’t hear about his latest 24-hour bike race and the bong lost along the way? THAT’S modern medicine.
And never forget his motto: “You’re going to die. We’re all going to die. My job is to see to it that you die from something else.” I suspect he may be responsible for the coronavirus pandemic. But I still like him a lot. And I trust him. He’s a genius doctor. AND a badass cyclist. Things will be OK.
Still, a good day to remember the words of the prophet Zevon: enjoy every sandwich. And maybe every run. And the rest of the ice cream I found hidden in the back of the freezer. And that last chocolate chip cookie Mo had stashed. Let my freak flag fly, indeed.
Because you never know …