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The Times
  • Peter Costa: A ticklish medical problem

  • I don’t like going to the doctor even for routine checkups. First, the waiting room is too small. Newly arriving patients have to queue up to the sliding glass windows, where the office assistants sit, where they are forced to disclose their names and sometimes list their ailments.

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  • I don’t like going to the doctor even for routine checkups.
    First, the waiting room is too small. Newly arriving patients have to queue up to the sliding glass windows, where the office assistants sit, where they are forced to disclose their names and sometimes list their ailments.
    “Hi, I’m Peter.”
    “Hello, Peter, what are you seeing the doctor for?”
    “I’d rather not say in public.”
    “Oh? I need to know because the examining room I put you in has to have the right medical equipment for the specific procedure or exam the doctor is going to perform.”
    “OK,” I said in a whisper. “Chest pains, dizziness, lack of energy, general malaise, sinusitis, osteoarthritis of my index finger, night terrors and restless leg syndrome.”
    The assistant rolled her eyes and slid the glass closed with a thud and motioned for me to take a seat in the ATM-sized waiting room.
    Even though patients diligently use the antiseptic hand lotion dispensers, cough into their sleeves and sneeze into tissues rated 5 on the Fujita Scale, nevertheless, the air still becomes as thick as a London fog and as virus-laden as a pizza left out overnight on a coffee table at “Animal House.”
    I also have historical reasons for not liking to see the doctor. A couple of years ago, I was in one of the well-equipped examining rooms with the doctor and a technician. I was in the middle of an EKG when I developed sharp chest pains that radiated to my neck. The doctor scrambled into action, and before I knew it, had ordered the administrative person to call 9-1-1 for a medical evacuation.
    The waiting room became a hot LZ as assistants escorted patients into the hall. A bank of chairs was pushed together to make room for the EMT’s who had arrived along with four firefighters and a gurney the size of New Jersey.
    My cardiac “episode” eventually turned out to be benign. I still feel uneasy sitting in the same waiting room, where I had previously been wheeled out to the murmurs and shocked expressions of my fellow patients. And to make matters worse, in addition to my checkup, I want to discuss a strange ailment that now besets me: Excessive ticklishness.
    That’s right. I laugh uncontrollably whenever a barber or dental hygienist touches me under my chin. My daughter thinks this is absolutely the funniest thing and regales her friends with the times that I giggled when tickled.
    Believe me; I am not looking forward to telling the administrative staff my new problem. Maybe they will assign me an examining room whose exit door leads directly to my psychiatrist. I’m sure he won’t laugh when I tell him my ticklish problem. I just hope I don’t develop chest pains in the process.
    Page 2 of 2 - Peter Costa is a columnist for GateHouse Media. His latest collection of humor columns, “Outrageous CostaLiving,” is available at Amazon.com.
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