REALITY TRUCK: Doctors & Daytime TV

I'm kinda mean, but I make up for it by bein' REAL healthy.-- Ernest T. BassI remember my ob-gyn saying I would feel "some discomfort" during a surgical procedure I had several years ago. Oh, no no. An eyelash in my eye constitutes "some discomfort." "Some discomfort" is beard burns on my inner thighs. But having one's (commonly closed) orifices pried open and probed with what looks suspiciously like medieval farming implements falls more under the heading of "bone-grinding agony" to my way of thinking. Hence my pathological fear of doctors' offices.Recently, however, after experiencing six weeks of what Bleeding Gums Murphy (on The Simpsons) would call a "fire in my belly," I gave in and decided to get a professional opinion. The professionals discovered that I was exhausted, anemic, dehydrated, and just generally difficult to get along with (that part they threw in for nothing). When it took them four tries to find my pulse and my blood pressure, I began to suspect that I was actually dead and didn't know it. But of course they needed more tests. Here are three words you never want to hear in the same sentence: upper, lower, and GI.For a couple weeks, I was pretty much ordered to slow down, quit obsessing about deadlines, quit laying out all night listening to loud rock and roll music in smoky bars, and quit stressing about all the boys in my life. I also had to give up caffeine, chocolate, and cheap red wine. In short, I had to abandon everything that gives my life meaning.It's amazing the perspective a minor medical crisis gives you. Oh, I'm not talking about existential contemplations on life and death and man's ontological role in the universe. No, I am of course, talking about daytime television. The day begins at eight with Bryant, Katie, Matt, and Willard (oh-he's-still-alive) Scott. Some doctor (not Art Ulene) delights in informing the audience that people who aren't in loving, committed relationships are three times more likely to suffer heart attacks than smokers. What a difference Today makes!At nine, I have to take a little nap because I can't stomach Montel, Regis, or Kathie Lee. (At this point in the day, I still have standards.) At ten, it's Jenny Jones or Ricki Lake. I start out with Jenny, who's featuring families who think it's ok for their teenage sons to go to strip bars. One audience member accuses today's guests of "defining manhood from the waist down." (I suppose there are worse ways.) Another says, "you got him a stripper for his birthday, why not put Christ into his life instead?" I'm poised on the clicker as Jenny says, "when we come back, we'll meet a man who says his paralyzed son is walking again thanks to a stripper."Time for Ricki. She's talking to folks who want to "confront the pothead in their lives." Pothead Chad, for example, bankrupted his family, wrecked his truck, and beat up his siblings. But I'm thinking the biggest argument against prolonged marijuana use is Chad's redneck, long-in-back/short-in-front haircut, not to mention his big ole cheesy mustache.At eleven, I've had enough and sit down at the computer to try to get some work done. Unfortunately, I forget to turn off Geraldo. I look up as he's saying "what you got there?" to some chick (I think it's a chick anyway) in a really BAD disguise holding (I swear) a cabbage patch doll. She says, "this is my little self." Apparently, she has some sort of split personality and this doll is supposed to...I don't that.At noon, the cavalry arrives in the form of my friend Matt who takes me to lunch and rescues me from Leeza and Rush. I return home in time for the last few minutes of Days, just as Vivian is saying, "Damn, it's Laura. She knows my being implanted with Victor and Kate's baby was no accident. [dramatic pause] She knows it was GRAND THEFT EMBRYO.I doze off in the middle of thirtysomething -- Ellen is busy alienating all her friends, screwing around on her nice boss/boyfriend (Woodman, wrecking her career and coughing up blood. My life suddenly looks a little better.Oprah's on. Oh, as IF I have time for advice from a self-avowed crackhead. Over on Sally Jessy: MOM'S DATING A BOY TOY. One woman asks, "Why should I settle for a bowl of plain vanilla when I can have a Sundae? Older men come with too much baggage." I become frightened when I realize that this is all starting to make sense.Although it's probably never going to be my usual lifestyle, I guess there are worse ways to spend one's days than sleeping and watching back-to-back episodes of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. In fact, for the first time since I decided to take up bass playing about six weeks ago, I really felt like a musician. Now if my friend Steve's advice is accurate, all that remains is to learn to pace myself at the bar, and the rest will come.As we go to press, none of my test results are back. So watch for potential columns on "Fun with flexible sigmoidoscopies!"


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