An Apple Computer a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

By Ernie Witham   |   July 16, 2020

Per instructions, I moved my face really close to my computer monitor. “Look into my eyes,” the doctor said. Was she going to hypnotize me? Make me cluck like a chicken? “I just want to watch your eye movements to rule out a few things.”

“I can roll them around in a circle. Watch.”

“Ah, okay, that’s weird,” she said. “Does it make you nauseous to do that?”


“Made me nauseous to watch,” she said. “So, I wouldn’t do that anymore.” Bummer, my four-year-old grandson loved that trick. Even more than my nose flute.

“Look left without moving your head,” the doctor said. “Now right. Now up. Now down.” Not sure what she noticed, but I saw some tiny specs on my monitor that looked like ant carcasses. I wondered if I should tell her this. Maybe they weren’t really there and it was all in my head. Could I be committed by a doctor via telehealth?

“Stick out your tongue. Oops, too close to the screen. Now it’s all wet.” She was right, but the good news was that the ant carcasses were gone. If they ever existed. I think they did because I could taste something odd. I spit a few times to get rid of the carcasses (carcai?) then used my elbow to clean the monitor screen.

“Hold your tongue and move it left,” she said.

“Rike dis?” I asked.

“Yes, now right. Now up. Hmm.”

It’s never great when a doctor says “hmm.”

“Revery fring okay?”

“I need to watch you walk,” she said.

“Ron da sqween?”

“No not on the screen on the floor. And you can let go of your tongue now.” I moved away from the computer. “I want you to walk with one foot in front of the other, toe to heel.”

“Last time I tried that I fell over onto the police officer and almost ended up getting arrested for DUI,” I told her, then quickly added: “It was a really long time ago.”

“Hmm,” she said again.

Telehealth is common these days because no one wants you to come to the clinic if you have a medical issue, which is a bit odd. Why would you go to the clinic if you didn’t have a medical issue? To read the magazines? Watch the televisions ads about gastro-intestinal drugs you should ask your doctor about? Or just to try and guess what happened to the guy across the room with all the Scooby-Doo Band-aids stuck on his face?

So, instead, now we connect through Zoom to a doctor, who may or may not be in the clinic at all. They could be connecting from Tahiti. Eight telehealth calls per day probably pays for one of those over-the-water bungalows. Today’s doctor probably had a mai tai and a fish sandwich just below my field of vision.

“Oomph.” I banged into the wall.

“Hmm,” she said.

I’ve had a few dizzy spells. My primary doctor couldn’t figure it out. “Odd,” he said. So he sent me to an ENT. “Unusual,” she said. I even had an MRI. “We didn’t see anything in your head,” the technician told me. So now I was seeing a neurologist. “Close your eyes and touch your nose with your fore finger.”

“Ow,” I said, as I poked myself in the eye. She mumbled something that sounded like: “one for the journals” then had me try touching my nose with my other forefinger. I came much closer this time.

“I think it’s an inner ear thing. I’ll send you some neck exercises. Have you ever had physical therapy?”

“A few times from Ned, Tom, Allyson, and John.”

“Was it from walking into walls like just now?”

“No. Not always.”

That was pretty much the end of the session, except for the simple follow-up survey of 47 questions to help the clinic serve me better – but still not in person – in the future. I had just finished my assessment when my phone rang. It was a computer-voice. “Hello, this is your healthcare provider calling. It’s time for your annual prostate exam. It will be a telehealth session. Do you have any latex gloves?”

I will be really glad when and if normal ever returns.


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