Archive for the 'Health' Category


Not even an earful

inner ear

One condition of getting older is the likelihood that my doctor will send me to a specialist. I guess as I slowly break down and descend into decay, my parts need more and more special attention.

Last September, I spent $50 for a visit to the otorhinolaryngologist. I like that word far better than “ears, nose and throat doctor,” or, if you’re too lazy to live, ENT. You know a word, you should use it, right?

Otorhinolaryngologist takes nearly as long to say as my appointment lasted. Continue reading ‘Not even an earful’


Looking outward, looking inward

Half the fun of going to the gym is the chance to observe its particular biosphere. It’s treasure trove of wildlife. I say you ought to get something out of it. Lord knows I hate going to the gym.

It’s a symptom of my inexorable laziness. But I see results when I work out, and male vanity is even more compulsive than laziness. So I go. But always in the morning before work—because I hate going after work even more.

So I’ve become familiar with the characters of my morning routine. I think you see a more consistent recurrence of the same people in the morning. Everyone’s routines are a little more regimented early in the day. We still have discipline in the morning, and hope—as opposed to later in the day when we are apathetic and undone and much more inclined to get a cocktail than lift anything heavier than a gym bag.

Continue reading ‘Looking outward, looking inward’


Gay Blood? Don’t Bank On It.

Shall I be insulted by, or merely appreciate the irony of, a sign posted outside my office in the elevator lobby encouraging us to donate blood. As corporate social service initiatives go, it’s a fine idea in concept. But since 1985, gay men have been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from making blood donations.

This floor is occupied by Logo, the GLBT network. I guess they’re going after the handful of folks across the hall who work for Nickelodeon?

To their credit, the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks want all donors to be treated equally. Right now it’s a lifetime ban, but they would have the deferral period be reduced to a year, which is the current rule for heterosexuals who may have been exposed to HIV risk.

The FDA is undergoing a review, but who knows when they’ll make a final decision.

I think they’re still missing the point, though. The risk comes not from man-on-man action, but from the absence of condoms. Straight folk may have unprotected sex within a year of their blood donation and pose no apparent risk.

That’s still kinda discriminatory, no?

Fortunately for me, I can’t give blood anyway. I have such anxiety about needles, whether it’s an injection or an extraction, that I’m likely to pass out and hit my head on something. That, to me, is a more immediate threat to my health than the idea of getting blood from a gay guy.


No Vegetables After Midnight

At a diner in center city Philadelphia, the Midtown III Diner and Cocktail Lounge, a friend of mine was recently seated for an after-hours snack. As he picked up the menu, the waitress told him gruffly, “No vegetables after midnight.”

I wonder if that includes french fries and ketchup, or if he was forced to choke down a plate of bacon and liverwurst.


Better Living Through Phrenology

Don’t be so quick to ice that head wound. Build up enough subdermal scar tissue, and you might just change your personality!

    Phrenologist bust
What I couldn’t do with some clippers and a Sharpie.

My friend James would be quick to point out that this is actually a pretty lame misunderstanding of the lost medical science of which he is a practitioner. James is a bona fide Phrenologist. That means he can measure the bumps and indentations in your skull and, based on the readings, make certain educated guesses about your personality.

The motto of Phrenologists: “Know Yourself.” A worthy pursuit, yes? Better be honest, though. The only way to cheat this test is to hit yourself in the head — and that’s no fun for anyone. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing.) I hesitate to think of the revelations that would result.

As one intrepid reporter from Twin Cities alternative weekly The Rake recently discovered, all the benefits of craniometric examination are yours to be had at the Science Museum of Minnesota in sleepy St. Paul.

You can see James giving this guy’s dome a good once-over.

(Those benefits, we learn, incidentally, do not directly include improved sexual prowess. But of course one must always ask, mustn’t one?)

The device James uses, a psychograph, is one of hundreds of items acquired by the formidable museum when it absorbed Minneapolis’ Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, where James gave demonstrations, in 2002. (Why should Minneapolis have all the fun, right?)

As one of the few experts in the discipline, James was rightfully retained by the science museum.

Some call it quackery, some call it a pseudoscience (James calls it a weekend pastime), but phrenology still has its proponents. If not phrenology, this site certainly believes very strongly in itself.

So, the next time someone tells you that you ought to get your head examined, rest assured you have nothing to fear. James is a very nice guy. (And kinda cute.) And he handles his instrument with a gentle and expert hand.

Put down that mallet. No cheating!


A Bad Case

Today’s English lesson:

As painful as it may be, watch it to the end.

Wouldn’t this song make an excellent mash-up with Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It For the Boy”?

Feel the burn.


Sick Time

As spring takes its sweet time getting here, I am reminded that, in this period of seasonal transition, i.e. April (the best April Fool’s joke I’ve seen in a while is yesterday’s temperature), one is well served to guard against germs and other nasties roaming the range. They seem to really sock it to you this time of year as the changing conditions play havoc with immune systems everywhere. I myself just got over my annual cold relatively unscathed. Now, right on schedule, it’s time for some minor throat trauma.

It’s around this time last year that I was fighting off an as yet undefinitively identified infection that was threatening to eat away the roof of my mouth. I can still feel the scars where the festering craters of decay had formed. I can still see the puzzled faces of the doctors with their pen lights aimed into my mouth (What is that?). I can still hear the otorhinolaryngologist wagging his finger, implying that my fondness for sex with men was probably at the root of my problem. (I still can’t figure that one out.) I can feel the needle pushed deep into my ass cheek for the first of a series of three just-in-case injections. (Praise Jesus, I didn’t need installments 2 or 3.)

The best part was the weight I lost avoiding, at first, solid food, and then all food, full stop.

Now we wait for the summer sun to come and burn off the fog of infection. Until then, people are getting pretty gross.

Yesterday while staring out my office window toward the street, I saw a woman sneeze on her kid. She was facing my building, pushing a little girl in an open stroller across the street. She reared back like a pitcher winding up for a fastball and let loose what looked to be an enormously satisfying sneeze. A thick mist issued from her face directly downward, raining droplets of biological refuse, visible from three stories up, onto her precious little charge.

She sniffed back some gack and carried on without pause.

Good luck, kid, I thought.

A day later, another woman on the subway let go of the chrome pole she was grasping so she could sneeze at her hand, only half covering her face, and then put it back exactly where it was on that pole. Another woman on the pole, wisely wearing gloves, registered her shock with a flurry of incredulous blinking and stepped aside to join a companion a few feet away.

the untallied hours