November 10, 2006

First Person:

Routine maintenance

By Al Carlos Hernandez

My wife’s import has a computer that tells her when to take it in for routine servicing, the computer reads out messages like, you have X number of miles until servicing at the workshop.

It gets weird when the computer figures out your driving habits and tells you, you have X number of days before servicing. Once we missed the servicing interval, the computer switched up and caught an attitude with us and started displaying messages about, you are X numbers of days past your servicing date.

Some cars now call the dealership and schedule its own appointments; if that were our car I would make it pay the bill and bring me home a burrito.

Growing up Latino, one can assuage guilt, we deny and deflect, we didn’t blame the car, we blamed the car’s programmers for being obsessive, maybe Latinos are socio culturally and emotionally unprepared to own strong willed German cars.

Consistent with this kind of Latinesque thinking, maybe the car started nagging us, insecure in the pragmatic knowledge that we unceremonially got rid of its older brother vehicle, a morbidly obese American luxury SUV, and replaced it with a fuel efficient stealth lean mean black on black muscle car on dubs.

Anecdotally, I too have recently been nagged into going for routine middle age servicing at the HMO. They checked my vitals, fluids, and quite possibly my oil. The in office results were positive, but needed to fast all night so I could do blood work, the next day, so I didn’t eat or drink all night while praying for the Middle East.

Still haunted by computer nag-a-mania, they emailed me the results, everything was as normal as it could be without actually talking to me, but in the mail came a hard copy with the bad news that tests showed that I’m pre-diabetic.

Pre-Diabetes is a condition whereby your body is not turning food into energy quickly enough, this condition can lead to heart problems, stroke, and the on-going inability to make the huge car note payments on your wives import coupe. The numbers didn’t indicate full on diabetes, and with some lifestyle changes the whole unpleasant episode would go away, if a new lifestyle could be maintained.

We knew what my problem was, my love of sweets, consumed allot of cookies, pan dulce, ice cream, whatever. So I did what any normal American male would do in this situation, I blamed my wife for buying goodies. She, wise beyond her years, was shroud enough to deflect the blame to her client Mary Mom, an older woman who is an expert in finding the best cookies on the planet. Mary would give us a shopping bag full of the latest and greatest cookies every week, and it was my job to eat them.

After studying Web MD like a jail house lawyer for hours, emailed the Doctor explaining why she was wrong about my diagnosis. She was gracious in reminding me to read the pamphlet on the condition, inferring that I shouldn’t get my boxers in a bunch, and since she had seen my boxers, she no doubt knew what she was talking about.

My mother wrote in her journal before she passed that the thing she knew about me was, I was at my happiest when I had a cause to fight, and she was right. That day I stopped eating sugar. The family was no help because the next day after church everybody showed up to the house with pink box of donuts, my sister in law with an industrial cache of Jelly Belly’s, I would be unmoved, ingesting my rabbit food trial mix.

It’s been a month since the diagnosis and I’ve lost 14 pounds, walk a mile everyday, drink diet sodas, munch sugarless cookies, and have come to the stark realization, that routine checkups can truly save you from a breakdown somewhere down the road, and you don’t need a computer to tell you that. Computers are programmed by emotionless pragmatic fact based common sense.

If you are a middle aged man, or hope to become a middle aged man, you need to get your blood work done, prostate test, BMI and oh yes, the invasive colon procedure. I’d signed up for that, the experience will no doubt be a two part story that I will have write to standing up.

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