Nowadays There Is No Such Thing As A Routine H&P by Gerard Sarnat

Ines Vuckovic (c) 2016

 Histories and physicals used to be excuses to schmooze collegially with buddies who also happened to be doctors.

But since the exams changed to annual as I’ve become older, they seem more like inquisitions and literal pains in the ass in the artforms of digital prostate palpation and colonoscopy. Weight loss that used to be positive now serves to alert us to the possibility of crabs lurking inside, which triggers anxiety until abdominal CAT scan results report only conditionally reassuring words, No gross abnormalities. Moving on to lesser evils: the Complete Metabolic Panel and Blood Count — in the old days I might not even inquire about abnormalities – but now I hang on every second till the electronic medical record reports my sugar’s just south of pre-diabetes, confirms liver/ kidneys are still alive and well.

The young new physician who swans on in then calls me Mr. probably didn’t know the fragile gomer in front of her had a first name or was an internist in this very same clinic– emails congrats on the Good News then sternly reminds me to definitely schedule a cardiac echo before we get too carried away.


Gerard Sarnat authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016). Work from Ice King was accepted by over seventy magazines, including Gargoyle and Lowestoft Chronicle and The American Journal of Poetry, and featured in Songs of Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords and Floor Plan. Since then new work has been featured in Dark Run and Scarlet Leaf. For Huffington Post and other reviews, reading dates, publications, interviews; visit Gerard Sarnat.com. Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails as a physician, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he has three children and four grandkids.