I got a rather surprising notification not long ago. It had been nearly a year and a half since my last “wellness exam.” I suppose this is a more positive term than “annual physical” or perhaps is just intended to emphasize the desire that we concentrate of behaviors that will keep us well instead of just finding out how we’re doing at a given point in time. I haven’t noticed any change in the nature of the exam itself, though.


Last month I discussed the change to daylight savings time in which we give up an hour of our time as we “spring forward” and await that blessed day when the hour is returned as we “fall back.” It dawns on me that I’m now dealing with daylight savings height, because I seem to have given up two inches of height since I was in my prime. Unfortunately, I didn’t give up two inches of weight at the same time. In fact, I’ve been creeping up in that regard. Having not taken off anything but my shoes, my weight was 215 pounds 4.8 ounces. Why go into tenths of ounces but have me leave my trousers on? And my height was 5’10.12 inches. If I had hair, that .12 would have been at least .35. But using those figures, my body mass index (or BMI) came out to 30.79, just barely in the range of obese. ME? OBESE??? Aw, c’mon! At least my blood pressure was a healthy 118/76. I used to take medication for high blood pressure, but then I found the best medication of all, retirement. Haven’t needed pills since.


I usually see Nurse Practitioner Riseman. That sounds cumbersome. I wish she’d just become an M.D. so I could call her Doctor. The problem this time was that she wouldn’t have been available until August. Since I was already overdue for my exam, I had a substitute, Dr. Mehmood. He seemed just fine, and at the end he scheduled the usual bunch of blood tests.


Now it seems that I’m doing a bunch of rants this month. Understandable since I did my taxes, but this is the first time blood tests have gotten my upset. First of all, Quest Labs, which has always done this work for me, used to have one of their labs about two miles from me with ample free parking. Unfortunately, they were a victim of COVID, and closed that outlet. There turns out to be another about twice the distance away, but I have to drive through downtown Berkeley to get there. And I know exactly where it is, since it’s the same building as my urologist.


With the old place, I just walked in, but I figured I should make an appointment with the new location. The website was fine. I was able to get an appointment for the ideal time of 8:30 (early is better, since one of the tests requires fasting). Unfortunately, my confirming email showed the time in two different spots, one of which was wrong! I didn’t

The Physical Shin

Last update: April 7, 2022

The John Shinnick Website

Ewwww! Once a year blood tests aren't a bad thing, but $477 after the rest of the appointment problems?

need this. I went into the website which had only two options for my appointment: cancel or change. No, I wanted to confirm.

Home Depot still holds the championship for worst phone system ever, but Quest’s, with minor tweaking, could win out. It’s one saving grace is that they make no claim of ever letting you talk to a human being. Home Depot is worse because they give you that hope and when you actually get one, they transfer you elsewhere. With Quest, it’s all pre-recorded crap. In the end, I simply guessed that I was good for 8:30, which it turned out I was. By 8:45 I was sitting in a chair, sleeve rolled up, ready to go. But first, my consent form. Usually this is a yeah yeah, sure sure sign and done process, but something odd was brought to my attention. My insurance, my beloved Medicare, wasn’t likely going to cover the tests and I could be billed for $477! What? Stop the presses. The phlebotomist (lady with the needle) said it might be the way the form had been filled out, but did I want to go ahead with the test anyway?


Um… uh… no. I wasn’t going to roll the dice in hopes that the $477 snafu would be unraveled. No, I wanted to find out what was going on FIRST! So I grumbled, paid $8 for parking, and left. I sent an email to my doctor’s office asking what the deal was. I also asked if they had an alternative to Quest for my lab work. $477 I can deal with, but crappy phone systems? NEVER!