Doctor Feelgood

We have a lot of fun here, but let's not forget that this was actually a pretty good TV show.

To be completely honest, I’m really happy with where my life is at the moment – and before you get pissed at me for gloating, keep in mind that I have pretty low standards. All I’m saying is I think I’ve made a real 180 from the emo, existential blog posts of six months ago. Every day I write things for money and then return to an apartment with zero cockroaches in it, and the various extracurricular projects I’m working on seem to be taking off. I feel pretty good about myself right now, and my natural and time-tested response to those emotions is to lie awake at night worrying that I’m dying of some horrible disease.

As far back as I can remember I’ve been a hypochondriac. Diseases are like monsters in your closet – silent, malevolent killers that can torment you without warning – except they’re actually a real thing and pulling the blanket over your head probably won’t stop them.

I’ll never forget the all-encompassing terror I felt when I first found out about diabetes – because what disease is scarier to a 7 year old than one where you’re not allowed to eat candy and have to get a shot every day? Diabetes would be an amazing disciplinary tool if it wasn’t a very serious and life threatening condition: So help me, Billy, if you don’t clean your room this instant I will give you so much diabetes!

As I got older and began my slow march to what is now a symbiotic relationship with the Internet, I became familiar with dozens of terrible diseases as well as a website called WebMD, which I believe exists solely to convince people like me that they have those terrible diseases.


Your light cough is experienced by millions of Americans every day and is a ubiquitous symptom of the common cold. In rare cases, it is also associated with the early stages of the Marburg virus, where you go insane and vomit up your liquefied organs. PERSONAL TRAINERS HATE THIS MAN CLICK HERE FOR THE #1 SECRET TO A FLAT BELLY

This usually leads me to go to Google for a second opinion, where I type in extremely specific search queries like…

if you cough six times in two hours and don’t currently have a runny nose but had a runny nose last month but no cough then does that mean that you have the Marburg virus

…which usually just creates more questions than it answers. Depending on how much I’m panicking, I then go for the last line of defense and call my Mom, a biology major who worked in a hospital laboratory in the mid 1980s and is thus the foremost medical authority I know (and the only one who will take all my calls).

“Mom, I have a light cough but no runny nose. Does that sound like Marburg virus to you?”

“…Jesus, Truman.”

Note that nowhere in this process do I go to a doctor. Unlike most hypochondriacs, who waste doctors’ time with as many unnecessary appointments as their insurance will allow, my fear of disease is tempered by an equal or greater hatred of invasive medical procedures, from needles to tongue depressors to the doctor touching me in pretty much any way.

The best case scenario for me is one where I go to the doctor, he takes one look at me (without me having to take my clothes off, naturally) and says, “Holy shit, Truman, you’re the healthiest person I’ve ever seen – even healthier than vegetarians and people who exercise! Get out of here, you rascal!” And then he gives me a coupon for In-N-Out.

Unfortunately, every doctor I’ve gone to seems slavishly bound to the Hippocratic Oath and insists on examining me very thoroughly, much to my chagrin. In my last physical before leaving for college I mentioned offhand a vague medical concern regarding – how shall I put this? – my hindquarters, and next thing I knew the doctor was rather thoroughly examining my hindquarters with his gloved finger. The good news is that I didn’t have cancer like I’d thought; the bad news is that a man I’d met half an hour ago had to rummage around in my asshole to tell me that. Needless to say, that was my last trip to the doctor.

And that brings us back to now. My life is good and I’m happy, and in every movie I’ve seen that’s usually a sign that the bottom is going to drop out soon, so I scheduled a physical with a doctor in Sherman Oaks in hopes of moving this story along into the second act.

Based on my previous experience, I was careful to only ask medical questions which I knew wouldn’t result in his fingers doing any spelunking. The good news is that my lungs work, I’m not overweight, my blood pressure is okay, and I miraculously don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome.

“I notice you have very fair skin,” my doctor, who is Indian, said toward the end of the exam. “Do you have any moles?”

In retrospect, I probably should’ve refused to give him any information because racial profiling isn’t cool, but at the time I went along with it, and next thing I knew I had my shirt off and he was poking at a mole on my back.

“Hm.” He said. “It’s probably nothing, but I’d like to get this biopsied.”

Biopsy (n) – A procedure where a dude with a knife cuts off a chunk of your fucking skin.

“Really?” I asked, panic creeping into my voice – both at the prospect that I could have melanoma and the prospect that I would definitely have to endure physical pain in the near future. “I don’t even get that much sun. I was always kind of an ‘indoor kid’, you know?”

He sat down next to me on the examining table to explain.

“When checking for melanomas, we use the ABCDEF system – we ask if the mole is asymmetrical, if it has irregular borders, different colors, a diameter of more than 6 millimeters, if it’s evolving over time, and if it’s funny looking.”

“Funny looking,” I said, thinking the term sounded just a tad subjective for 21st century Western medicine.

“Your mole is asymmetric and funny looking, so I think it’s safest to get it biopsied, just to be sure.”

So not only has my doctor got my hypochondriasis cranked up to 11 and put me on the roster for an invasive procedure in the next couple of weeks; he’s also told me that part of my body fits the official medical definition of funny looking. Thanks, jackass – I’ve known I’m funny looking for years

I’ve never had a bad sunburn and I haven’t been experiencing any symptoms, so what little common sense I have tells me that this probably isn’t something I should be devoting a lot of my time to worrying about. And much to my surprise, it’s actually worked – while waiting to go get biopsied I’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining the happiness that led me to worry in the first place.

That being said, I’m still spending too much time comparing my mole to pictures of moles on the Internet, so the sooner some dude cuts a chunk of my skin off, the better.

Truman Capps always wants his doctor to be Zach Braff, but no luck so far.