GOG: Hey doc, you know what's really bugging me?

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn

One of the worst things about getting on in life is that bits of you start falling apart. Recently I lost the use of a rather important part, one that I quite enjoy employing on a regular basis. I am referring, of course, to my arm. In particular the essential right arm. This is the one I use to lift pints of beer, an activity which accounts for almost all my exercise and a major part of my nutrition, so its loss is rather serious.

Being one of the fortunate 25 or so British Columbians who have a “family doctor,” I telephoned his surgery. All doctors, the world over, are guarded by dragons. It is the dragon’s sworn duty to prevent people seeing the doctor.

“What is it regarding?” she asked. I thought this was rather nosy.

“It’s personal,” I replied.

A second later, I realized that a man of my age saying this in relation to a visit to a physician is implying one of two things: Trouble with the waterworks, or a different but equally upsetting problem with some of the same equipment.

“It’s my arm,” I explained hastily, “I can’t bend it.” She offered me an appointment sometime next year. I’ll be dead by then.

“But it’s very painful,” I whined, hoping to elicit sympathy for the poor old gentleman with the gimpy arm. Fat chance. She suggested I go to emergency. Of course: I would love to spend the rest of today and part of tomorrow parked on a sweaty plastic chair surrounded by recalcitrant drunks and dribbling octogenarians while being professionally ignored by harassed nurses and half-asleep doctors. 

“Or a clinic,” she added. Isn’t this like your local Chinese takeaway suggesting you try the curry place down the road? Surely that can’t be good for business. But I suppose when you only need to work two hours a week and can make your customers wait until the next lunar eclipse to see you, it really doesn’t matter.

The clinic I found was in a grocery store. Is this a good idea? Do we really want to buy our groceries where they invite sick people in to sneeze all over the tomatoes? For three hours I sat there with the diseased and lame, reading home decoration magazines for people with more money than taste, before finally being ushered in to see a teenaged doctor.

She inflicted some pain. “You have a cute lateral epicondylitis” she said.

“Why, thank you” I replied, “but what about my arm?”

She gave me a withering look.

“It’s tennis elbow” she said. This is absolute twaddle. I’ve never played tennis in my life. Don’t they teach them anything in medical school these days? I thanked the young doctor for her time, which is clearly more valuable than mine, and left untreated to go and practice lifting a glass or three of lunch with my left arm.

— The Grumpy Old Git takes his exercise and nutrition VERY seriously.

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