“Fill this bottle, Sir”

Having been raised as a true Scots Presbyterian, I am of the generation that doesn’t go to the doctor unless you’re really, phlegm-producingly sick. This has resulted in a couple of serious incidents over the years, but the habits of a lifetime are deeply ingrained.

So it came to pass in my 71st year that Wendy finally persuaded me to have a health check. (Read: she made the appointment and threatened me.) Last Monday I duly presented myself at Doctor Ashley’s office and had my first proper check-up in ten years.

I’d taken along the medical history brought with me when I moved to the US from Scotland, and the academic paper on Nail Patella Syndrome that features a photograph of my toe-nails. (It’s a hereditary condition). To my great relief I received a clean bill of health – a surprise to Wendy, and I suspect even to the doctor!

But this wasn’t the end of it – oh no, not by a long way! This Monday I was scheduled for lab work. Admonished to fast beforehand and come early to deal with paperwork, when presenting myself at the counter, I admitted I’d had a breakfast bar at 7a.m.

The secretary said “whaaa?”

I repeated my crime, fearful now that I’d be turned away. She called in a senior member of staff, who asked me to “repeat that, please.”

“I had a breakfast bar at 7 a.m.”

“What’d you have?”

“A baaaaaarrrrrrr.” Experience has taught me that, when accents collide, strengthening the vowels can help SW VA ears.

“Yes,” said the woman, in the patient voice of one dealing with an imbecile. “But what was on it? Eggs? Bacon? Oatmeal? How much did you eat?”

Realization dawned at last, as my father-in-law is fond of breakfast bars—the Shoney’s kind, not the six-per-pack granola kind. I laughed and explained, she laughed and took me to the back—

–and poked me repeatedly, trying to get a vein. I told her a funny (now) story about a nurse years ago in Scotland with the same trouble. She bit her tongue and tried again. This became very unpleasant until she got what she wanted. I regretted telling her the funny story.

Several unspeakable samples and a couple of preventive shots later, I was wending my way home, a bandage the size of Russia around the drill site that had been my arm.

Satisfied, my darling Wendy?