Symptom Bluff


In the past month, I have had two fortune tellers tell me I have little tolerance for physical pain but an unusually high tolerance for emotional pain, especially being a female and all. One of the fortune tellers hesitated around the word female as if she was looking for a more appropriate word, I glared at her and she relented.  It is true I am highly sensitive physically, some may say I’m a hypochondriac, I like to say I’m just suspicious of my own body. I spend a lot of time meeting with the medical professionals and putting them through various tests from the book:

Everybody Thinks Doctors are so Smart   

disguised conversational questions to test your Doctor’s competency

Written Diligently By Kendra Cunningham.

Last week I had my Annual Physical. I felt like Reese Witherspoon in Election. I was showered, dressed, had all my ailments written up way before departure time. My Doctor and her assistant both complimented me on my outfit. Not at the same time either. I knew I had gained weight so I wasn’t looking forward to that part of the visit. Weight gain is not a diagnosis.

“179” the assistant called out.

“Holy shit” I said, “I can’t believe I gained so much weight. I knew I gained weight but…..”

My Doctor interrupted “You weighed 173 last year”

“Really? I swear I thought I was so skinny last year. It’s funny how….”

This time she straight up cut me off  “Yeah it was exactly a year ago so you gained six pounds. Let’s get your blood pressure”

She wasn’t in the mood for me. It was clear. She certain wasn’t gonna like my handwritten list of symptoms but I had to inform her or else I would be hindering her ability to do her job.  As I announced each symptom, she asked A LOT of questions I couldn’t answer. In a court of law I would have looked like I was lying about having trouble swallowing and feeling like I’m losing my balance sometimes. She did a great cross examination. I was even doubting myself.  At one point I caved and I felt like I was bluffing “Ok,Ok maybe I don’t get bloated with the smallest of morsels of food,  forget that one. Let’s move on to the pain in my left flank.”  She replied snidely “ Yes, let’s”

When all was done, she looked me in the eye and said “ I give this to all my patients, it’s a mental health assessment”

“Oh no! I never do good on these” I tried to joke with her.

She watched me answer the questionnaire which I thought was spooky but I didn’t say anything. When I was done she said “Well, you’re not depressed but you are anxious. What do you think you’re anxious about?”

“The fact that I’m not depressed? Maybe I feel guilty that I’m happy?”  I really wanted to get the right answer.

She just shrugged and asked if I wanted to be tested for HIV.

I said “Sure” like she had asked me if I wanted a piece of gum.

I ended up leaving there with blood test paperwork, a specialist referral, and the name of a dermatologist. No diagnosis but I felt good about my visit all the same.

When I got home I realized I left my Red Sox hat in the examination room.  I called and told them I’d come back the next day to get it but they insisted on mailing it to me.

Free of charge.

I hope they didn’t do anything to it.

  Straight jacket



Kendra is a stand up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.           








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