It’d be fair to say that I am no Adonis. I’m not a handsome man. So I’m not sure why the last two times I’ve seen a specialist doctor in a hospital, they’ve always wanted me to strip off.
The first time was to see a sleeping specialist. When I went in, he asked me to strip off to my pants, and lie on the bed. A bit of an odd request, I’d have thought, but I complied anyway. He made some basic pulse measurements, asked if I’d been hallucinating anything – then grandly concluded that there was nothing wrong with me and that I’d been wasting his time. Charming fellow.
This time around, it was to do with high blood pressure and my nose’s ability to erupt like a geyser spewing out lavafuls of blood at the most inopportune moments. Before I met the specialist, I’d spent 20 minutes with the nurse having my blood pressure measured in a variety of positions (“could you please stand on one leg and try to reach for that coffee cup on the shelf while I take your blood pressure, please?”) and being weighed. A somewhat pleasant surprise to find that I haven’t gained weight this year. Not so surprisingly, I haven’t lost any either.
So I walked into the specialist’s office, and was surprised to see a man and a woman there. The man asked me if I minded if the junior doctor observed, and I took this to mean the woman. I nodded my assent, which was possibly a fatal move since he then asked me to strip off. A tad confused, I asked him where I should strip off, to which I was told that I could do it behind the curtain.
So I stood there in my socks and pants behind the plastic curtain, before I plaintively asked the doctor what to do now. He asked me to come out from behind the curtain, and to take a seat. So I did – and was sat there for 15 minutes on a leather chair in my smalls while I tried to answer various questions about my lifestyle and avoid making eye contact with the junior doctor. I think it was when I confessed to my years of heroin abuse that the doctor twigged that I was a tad uncomfortable in this situation, and actually decided to make use of my nakedness.
By prodding my ankles. Which is apparently a sure sign of high blood pressure – but why I needed to be stripped naked for this for twenty minutes, heaven knows. He also took more heart measurements, although why I needed to be virtually naked for this I don’t know. He then decided to do some rather vigorous prodding in my groinal area, but this could easily have been done behind the plastic curtain, surely?
Blissfully, he told me to put my clothes on. And then sent me off for a battery of blood and heart tests, and a chest X-Ray. Which involved (again!) more stripping off with only a flimsy Homer-esque plastic gown and a lead panel pressed against my buttocks to save me from a radiation dose. Sometime in the next few weeks, I shall have to spend 24 hours peeing into a plastic bottle which contains some kind of acid, and take that to my doctor.
I bet at the end of all this, they’ll tell me that I just need to lose some weight to bring down my blood pressure. Strange, I’d suggest not being stripped in a doctors’ office and told to pee into a plastic bottle which stinks of vinegar.