My brother Danny called me so I could give him a ride to the hospital in order to get a medical procedure. He gave me a three-week notice, but he didn’t specify what medical procedure he would undergo. But he did ask me a few questions about my health and health care. Well, I’m 52 and he’s 50, so he mentioned that we were both at the age were a prostate cancer exam is recommended. My brother has been going to the doctor a lot the last few years. He asked when I last went to the doctor. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I went to see a doctor. I have had a lot of bad experiences with doctors, so I try to avoid them. For as long as I can remember, I would get acute pains in various parts of my body.

Once in high school, I felt pains between my ribs around my heart. It felt as if someone put a broomstick between my ribs and was prying them apart. I was about seventeen. My mother thought I was exaggerating and told me the pains were all in my head. But they weren’t. I kept complaining about the pain to my mother until she finally took me to the doctor. When I described my pains to the doctor, he stared at me blankly and said that they were just growing pains. That was the end of my doctor’s visit. The pains persisted for about a week, but eventually went away just as mysteriously as they came. And, thankfully, I didn’t die–obviously!

About twenty years ago, I felt a sharp pain in one of my testicles. I continued my daily run despite the pain. I have this uncanny ability to block out pain. The pain increased so much that I eventually made an appointment with a doctor. He told me that I should wear an athletic supporter when I went running. That was all the advice the doctor gave me! I said, “But I feel a lot of pain!” “What are you worried about?” he asked. “Cancer,” I said. He then told me that I was too old to get testicular cancer. I felt much better after that information.

Another time, the white part of my eye had turned completely blood red. When I woke up and saw my eye–oddly, I didn’t feel any pain while I slept–I panicked. I called my optometrist and he told me to come in immediately, probably due the urgency in my voice. When he examined me, he said, “It’s nothing to worry about.” “What do you mean? My entire eye is red!” But there was nothing he or anyone else could do for me. Eventually, my eye cleared up.

So when my brother called me, I tried very hard to remember the last time I saw a doctor. He asked me who my doctor was. Well, I don’t have a doctor. Do you want to know why? Because he died! My doctor and I were both about the same age; I could tell because we both had the same chronological reference points. He used to tell me how I should watch my diet and exercise and all the usual doctorly advice. One day, I had the flu really bad and I tried to make an appointment with my doctor. He wasn’t available. The next time I saw him, my doctor told me that he had had a heart attack. I thought, “Doctor, heal thyself!” This was the doctor who was advising me on how to live a healthy life! About a year later, I had one of those mysterious, sharp pains in my side by my kidney. I immediately called my doctor to make an appointment. He wasn’t available. And he would never be available for appointments ever again. He had died of a heart attack the week before. That was the last time I saw a doctor.