Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I don't know how it turned out this way, but this post is sort of raunchy, so you have been warned.

My medical is coming due shortly. Lisa is certainly getting into the spirit of things (if not the actual procedure) in this pic.

I am under 40, so I only have to do a medical exam once a year to keep my pilot's license. Once I turn 40, the doc will get 2 tries per year to take my medical away and leave me jobless, but until then he only gets 1 attempt per year. Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) are doctors who take an additional course so they can certify that pilots are unlikely to die whilst airborne. They usually have an aviation background, and I'm guessing that's mostly why they do it, as the average rate for a pilot's medical is only around $110, and I'm sure a doc could make more money during that time if they did other medical stuff.

The actual medical takes about an hour - I fill out some forms and indicate that I haven't had an open head injury or seizures in the past year, that I don't smoke, and that I drink 5 alcoholic beverages per week. We do some color-blindness tests, which I find kind of strange - I assumed color blindness was genetic and didn't develop over time, so that if I have full color perception one year, odds are I'll see the same colors the next year, but what do I know. I get weighed and the doc taps my kneecaps and my legs jerk to show the doc that I'm not paralyzed. He pokes my liver and listens to my lungs, then we talk about airplanes for a bit.

Then the fun stuff. I drop my drawers and he grabs my boys and gives them a good squeeze, then tells me to turn and cough. I usually settle for turning and whimpering and that seems okay by him.

The doc gets a specimen jar and I toodle off to the washroom so I can pee in it. Every year I ask the doc what he's testing for, and every year I hear the same thing "We don't test for drugs, hippie. We test for excess protein in your urine, which may be a sign of impaired kidney function." Funny story about that for a second; the night before my very first medical, I stayed over at the girlfriends house and we got frisky. When I peed in the jar the next day, my protein count was off the chart and the doc came back looking worried. I was freaking out until the doc asked what I had done the previous night, and it became obvious that the excess protein was residual, umm, swimmers that were still hanging around in the plumbing. A few days later, a second test confirmed his suspicions. I'm guessing you are kind of grossed out right now, and that's fine 'cause I'm having a giggle.

Then the really fun part of the medical; now I know that any women reading this will roll their eyes and call me a wimp, and they would be correct.

Depending on your age and general health and family history, the doc may or may not want to examine your prostate. For those of you who don't know, your prostate is somewhere down in your guts and the best way to examine it is by sticking a large, calloused finger up the guy's butt. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not my idea of a good time. My first AME was pretty prostate-obsessed, but the ones after that were easy on the spelunking. My next medical is with a new doctor, and I have no idea what his opinion on the exam is, but if I walk into his office and he has prison tattoos or worse - long sharp fingernails, I'll know what my answer will be. Another minor note is that I rode my bike to my first pilot medical exam / prostate festival, and I wore biking shorts. It was hard staying on my seat on the ride home, I kept sliding off.

I have had a couple of great AME's during my career - when I lived up north in Stony Rapids, the only AME in the north lived in Uranium City, 100 miles away. It was standard practice for us to mail him our medical certificate in an envelope attached to a 40oz bottle of Canadian Club, and he'd mail our certificate back with the stamp on it.

Another guy in Thunder Bay was fantastic mostly because he was really quick, and really cheap. He only charged $30 for the whole thing, but that was also because the entire exam took 5 minutes. He asked me my weight, my height, and if I had to pee. I didn't have to pee and he said no worries, we'd skip that part. A great doctor for a pilot's medical, but I'm not so sure I'd go see him if I was actually sick.

I know a good one who saved photocopies of the previous year's medical form, so a person could go back and see what their answers had been to the questions the year before, so as to avoid inconsistent answers. He thought it might raise a red flag if a pilot said they had 3 drinks a week one year, then said they had 8 drinks a week the next year. To me, that's natural pilot career progression, but what do I know.

Anyway, back to the doctor's office. I have been poked, prodded, perhaps probed, and I have peed. I present the doc with my medical certificate, and he stamps it with his uniquely-numbered doctor's stamp. I give the receptionist my cheque and walk out the door, healthy for another year. Assuming my cheque doesn't bounce, that is :)


Anonymous said...

Umm just curious Sulako about why any woman would call you a wimp for whining about the digital exam.??Do you think we don't like the pelvic probing??Hmm? Or where was that line of thinking going?

Anonymous said...

Some comedian has a routine about the prostrate exam... and "What if I like it? And it "shows"..."

Jennifer said...


So are you going to make it up this weekend???