I just had my annual physical, and every year my statistics get worse and worse. My blood pressure is not as great as it used to be, I’m not as tall as I once was, my cholesterol is higher, my temperature is lower, I’m a bit heavier and I don’t have as many hits with runners in scoring position. Plus, my co-payment keeps going up, meaning that each bit of discouraging news costs me more and more each year. It’s obvious that I need to do better- my health depends on it. I have to make some changes, and the first thing I need to do is to start gaming the numbers before I even show up at the doctor’s office. My temperature was 97.5 degrees, so next year I’m going to microwave my pants before I go for my appointment. For my cholesterol I’m going to eat so many Brussels sprouts that it lifts Belgium’s gross national product. I’m going to pound a whole bottle of vitamin C and then I’m going to bench press a Buick and then I’m going to do goat yoga so I can RELAX and if that damned goat says one word about it I’m going to- listen, I’m a little wound up here about my numbers, but I think I’ll be okay in a few minutes. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my health care in the future, and that’s when I’m going to need a good deal more of it. Some Democrats favor a “single-payer” model for health care. I don’t know much about it, but the single-payer model would have to be awfully wealthy and generous, whoever she is. I don’t want to have to argue with her about every little test I need done. And some medical issues are not that flattering, so I’m not even going to mention to my single-payer model that I had a bunionette, lest she laugh at me then not pay for it. Republicans favor a “Health Care For All Except For Sick People” approach, which is cheaper and doesn’t require anyone to actually do anything. My doctor is kind of old school, which I like. He goes over my medical history with me, then uses a hands on approach to see for himself what a mess I am. For instance, he asks me about my two knee surgeries, and then hits me in the knee with that little hammer. Then he asks me how’s my hearing, and when I say, “What?” He knows it’s fine. He looks in my ear, and makes a face that I assume means that there is a family of grackles nesting there. Then he sticks the tongue depressor down my throat, and my tongue has been feeling a little down in the mouth, so I guess it worked. Then he asks me if anything’s bothering me, and I say yeah: why do the Yankees keep signing home run hitters when what they really need is a starting pitcher? Maybe that’s what’s making me shorter and causing my cholesterol to go up, but my doctor says that they’re probably unrelated. He has more questions. Do I use alcohol? Only for drinking purposes, I assure him. Do I smoke? Only when I try to do math. Any amnesia in my family? I can’t remember. He told me I should get the shingles vaccination, because it’s more effective than it used to be and shingles are painful. I know there are people out there who think that vaccinations are some kind of conspiracy, or can actually cause a dose of the malady that they are trying to eradicate. This is usually a case of dim bulbs listening to other dim bulbs. These are people who also believe that vaccine is spelled with two “x”es. I’m no genius, and I thought “eradicate” was spelled with two “r”s, but I’m smart enough to let doctors do what they do, and I’ll do what I do, whatever that is. The nurse came in and told me she was going to give me the shingles shot in the deltoid. I said, “Great! I’ve never been to Mississippi! I’ll meet you down there!” But before I could make it out the door she jammed the thing in my arm, then told me there were a few side effects. I don’t suppose crying is one of them but it certainly should be. Now the other nurse comes in for my blood work. “Have you fasted?” She asks. I assure her that if anything, I have slowed. Then she tells me to lie down and attaches a bunch of electronic probes to different parts of my body. “This thing can’t tell if I’m lying, right?” It’s possible that I may have fudged the numbers on my alcohol usage. By the way, the things you say to an EKG nurse may proportionately affect how fast she rips off the adhesive tapes that hold the electronic probes onto your body. So if you haven’t had your physical this year, make an appointment right now, because heart attacks aren’t for the faint of heart. If this column convinces just one person to check their cholesterol numbers and they come back over 250, I’ll feel good, because their numbers are worse than mine. I’ll get my own test results back in a few weeks, and my wife sees the mail before I do, so until she does I’ll be hiding out at Dairy Queen. Say hello at: rlife8@hotmail.com