This week marks the discovery of gold in them thar hills — Fool’s Gold, the new weekly column!
The inaugural piece, “Cracking the Health Nut,” runs today in the New Mexico Mercury. I hope to welcome other publications on board soon. More deets to come.
Here’s the piece in full:
I take pretty good care of my body. I floss before every dentist appointment, and I am so flexible that I even touched my toes once. So you should absolutely take me seriously when I tell you that I have no idea what, exactly, is the normal condition of my prostate.
No one ever told me that I have a prostate, and I completed four whole levels of sex education in school, plus a college semester in Europe and several rounds of the board game “Operation.” I used to think—and I am surely not alone here—that prostates were lumps of tissue, or possibly gremlins, that developed only inside old man bodies.
That changed recently, when I met an intrepid fellow in his forties. Let’s call him “Tom,” because that is his name. Tom survived the youngest case of prostate cancer his doctor had ever known. I’m twenty-eight, which means I will reach my forties well before the Buffalo Bills win another regular season football game. I’m not that far from the abyss.
Besides, September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, when for thirty topsy-turvy days, prostate cancers the world over gain consciousness, like self-aware robots or Frosty the Snowman. If ever I needed to evaluate my prostate, that time is now.
I asked Tom what I, a typical young-ish guy, could do to prevent my prostate from swelling like a marshmallow in the microwave. He shared with me the importance of a regular physical checkup for men.
In case you have never had a physical checkup for men, the procedure is a lot like getting the oil changed in your car. Both lube jobs leave you saying “I just had to bend over and take it,” but only one makes you walk like a saddle-sore cowpoke.
I do not relish scheduling my regular physical checkup for men. Besides, this is America, the land of self-reliance. So I opted to explore my own options first, if you know what I mean. I felt around my junk—
Wait. When discussing medical health, a mature vocabulary ensures clarity and accuracy. So. I conducted a self-examination of my nifkin, prodded my grundle, and discovered that despite twenty-eight years of fiddling with my fiddle, I did not have a clue what equipment I kept in the bottom of my duffel bag. I couldn’t pinpoint what might be my prostate, let alone whether or not it was abnormal.
Thank goodness for the modern technological wonders tentatively named “the internet” and “Congress,” which together dictate everything I need to know about my well-being. With their moral support, I stayed up til the wee hours researching the symptoms of my prostate. It seems to be in good health, unless of course it’s not.
As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, now I also feel fatigued after all this research, which is a sure sign of one or more other illnesses. I can’t even call in sick, because no one would fill in for me and you would not have this column to read.
If you sympathetic readers are anything like my Darling Girlfriend, you’re probably saying, “There’s a word for people like you who needlessly worry over and self-diagnose an array of highly unlikely diseases, disorders, injuries, and maladies.” Yes, I know this word. In fact, it is such a good word that it’s actually two words: Health Nut, wherein “nut” most definitely does not mean “crazy person.”
I am a certified Health Nut because I care very greatly about figuring out how to never die, or more important, how to never ever have a needle stuck in my arm. Yet unpronounceable ailments from the handles of grocery store shopping carts assail me—and my prostate—at every turn.
Sometimes, an expert opinion truly is best. Since it’s difficult to arrange an audience with a congressperson, I now realize I should have gone to the doctor’s office to get the opinion of a trained and well-Vaselined latex glove before I examined myself raw.
But no matter how much I have aggravated my maybe-it’s-a-prostate-but-what-if-it’s-actually-a-mislocated-appendix, I cannot persuade the doctor to see me sooner than next month. If I have a medical emergency, the staff helpfully reminds me, I can visit the emergency room. Otherwise, I will have to wait like everybody else for my scheduled appointment or death, in no particular order and subject to change from my insurance provider.
As frustrating as this healthcare system is, I will follow through with the doctor’s appointment, mostly because it will appease the Darling Girlfriend. But I now understand why certain political representatives want to abolish all health care in this great nation for entirely altruistic reasons.
Should they succeed, this Health Nut will help diagnose their ailments. But if they need advice on their prostates, Tom recommends a really great hands-on mechanic.
If you’d like to see more humor in your local alternative newspaper or other beloved bathroom read, remember, you can demand the editors print Fool’s Gold if they want to keep your readership.
(Featured photo of the stethoscope copyright Pete on Flickr via a Creative Commons Attribution License.)