You know you’ve hired an expensive doctor when he treats you like an adult.
Hello there, Bock. I’m Gordon.
Sit down there, Bock, and we’ll have a look at your file.
My fucking file?? What has this Gordon bastard got on my file? I only walked in here this morning for the very first time. Is this place a front for the CIA? The KGB? The FBI? The BBC? The SUV? MI5? MI6?
M I fucking mad?
You see, I felt I owed it to myself to have a bit of a check-up and so, in a sudden rush of blood, so to speak, I signed up for this place where they check all your vital bits and pieces.
They put one of those things up against my chest — the things people use to see the sex of your baby. Did you ever see those things? Ultrasound. A nurse says to you, Look! There’s the baby’s arse! But all you can see is something resembling the huge ball of dust you meant to hoover out from under the bed but forgot, and now it’s all mixed up with breadcrumbs and mite-shit.
They put one of those things against me and said Look! There’s your heart! See how it pumps!!
Oh great. Is it a boy-heart or a girl-heart? I don’t want to see my fuckin heart pumping, thank you very much.
They say ominous things like, Now I’ll just check the thickness of the heart wall.
Oh, because if it’s been under stress for a long time it’ll be thickened.
So you squint at the screen with the ball of dust and mite-shit. It looks thick as bejesus.
Grand! says the nurse. No bother at all!
You relax, and begin to feel smug, but the nurse says, now we’ll get started, and then you get to see your heart pumping from a dozen different obscene angles — a sort of cardiac pornography for the very fucked-up.
Grand! says the chirpy little nurse who has no business being this cheerful this early. Now we’ll stick on the electrodes.
Easy for you to fuckin say, I’m thinking, but of course I don’t express that thought out loud. Surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt at all, and they have one of those screens just like you see in ER with all the parallel blippy little lines going badda-boom badda-bing!
Grand! says the cheerful nurse.
Excellent, you reply and begin to peel off the electrodes before the chirpy nurse grabs you in a vise-like grip. Ah no no no no, says the nurse, who turns out to be really Mrs Doyle. Up you get there on that treadmill.
Oh for fucksake, what now?
Well, we’ll start it rolling, and I’ll check your heart and blood pressure and when the pain gets too much for you, just let me know.
It usually gets them in the backs of their legs.
It starts rolling, slowly, and then it gets a little faster, and then a good bit faster, but I’m pounding right along with it, building up a sweat, and the little nurse is looking at me, perhaps a trifle disappointed.
Your, um, heart is looking fine.
Is it? I say. I’m as surprised as you are.
The thing speeds up some more, but I’m well into my rhythm now. Ba-boom, ba-boom, go my feet on the rolling road. In the zone. Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom.
The nurse is looking concerned. Can you make it for another thirty seconds?
I can make it all night long, Baby! I reply chirpily.
Eventually, in disgust, the nurse switches the machine off.
OK. You’re done.
I hope you’re not going to stick a fork in my ass.
The nurse ushers me to a waiting room. Doctor Doolally will be along in a minute. She flings me one last accusing look as she leaves.
I’m a little paranoid now, and also a little vulnerable, sitting here in my sweat-soaked knacker-tracker loose-fitting baggy pants, tee-shirt and trainers while this suave, urbane, polite, concerned, respectful fucking EXPERT! looks casually through my file.
Hmm, he says.
Mmm? I reply
Well, he says, your heart is fine.
And my arteries?
So, I say, does this mean I can safely join a gym to lose the weight I put on when I quit smoking?
Certainly! he replies with a cheery, consultantly guffaw.
And I won’t have a heart attack and collapse in a purple, writhing mass on the floor as bewildered part-time gym staff read the instructions on the defibrillator?
Of course not!
So I can really put myself through months of gruelling, painful exercise?
I stand up and fix him with a look of pure hatred.
Gordon, I say. Thanks a fucking lot!
A visit to the doctor