“you’ve had a good ride”


The exam room was smaller than most, no frills, stark white like every other doctor’s office I’d ever been in – the chair was a classic stackable with no arms. I imagined a long uncomfortable wait as the friendly masked doctor’s assistant waltzed cheerily out of the room after taking my vital signs, leaving me with the sunny parting words: the doctor will be right in. I was dubious, of course, but my first visit to this gastroenterology practice deserved an open mind.

To my surprise the door opened almost as soon as she closed it, and a young masked doctor entered pushing a computer sitting on a tall desktop that rolled. He squeezed his equipment into the tiny room, rolled to a stop in front of me and closed the door.

He had the same positive energy his assistant had as we began to discuss my health concerns which were, in my mind at least, unremarkable. He tapped computer keys as we talked for a few minutes. During a lull in the conversation I asked him how long he had been a practicing physician.

“Twenty years,” he replied.

“Gosh,” I said. “You look very young in that mask. Plus you’re so cheerful while we’re talking about bowel movements which I assume must be the topic of most of your patient interviews. I admire your attitude.”

He seemed pleased about the compliment, murmuring a thank you. Then he motioned to an exam table opposite my chair and asked me if I thought I could get on it. I assured him I could. I was, however, grateful for the two steps at the bottom of the table and began my climb which must have taken longer than I imagined because he chose those moments to ask me if I was retired, what I had done, what I was doing now. I answered in halting sentences that didn’t sound like me at all, I thought, but I was focused on the ascent to the exam table which I finally accomplished.

As I was settling in a prone position, the young doctor said, “Well, you’ve had a good ride.”

Whaaaaat did I just hear? Did he mean the Herculean task of getting on his exam table or the equally esoteric Herculean task of living a life that will reach 75 years in a month?

“Yes,” the young doctor continued as he checked my heart and lungs, “I hope when I’m 74 I can say the same thing. Well, I’ve had a good ride.”

I concentrated on breathing in and out.

As we concluded our visit, the good doctor said that I was a candidate for a colonoscopy, a procedure I’d had many moons ago but remembered as if it were yesterday. The preparation was actually more memorable than the procedure, I recalled.

“Has the preparation been updated in the last ten years?” I asked.

“Oh yes indeed. I will prescribe the newest and safest preparation covered by Medicare. It’s called Plenvu – I’ll send the prescription to your pharmacy and see you in April. Hopefully everything will turn out to be fine, you can celebrate your 75th birthday, or if by chance we find problems, well we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. So nice to meet you.”

Pretty was waiting for me when I came out. When I told her what the doctor said about my “good ride,” she rolled her eyes. That’s Pretty for you – she never tries to rain on a parade. I believe her comment was “whatever.”

For some reason, the young doctor’s words stuck with me. I have had quite the ride. I wrote an epilogue to my second memoir Not Quite the Same that still represents.

“No matter where I rode to, that’s where I was. The ride isn’t over for me, but it’s slowing down. Choices. Trade-offs. Chance. Timing. Priorities. Obsession. Conviction. Change. Challenges. Love. Sex. Ambition. Death. Loss. Grief. Joy. Pride. Exhilaration. The ride took me to all of these places in no apparent order and, often, more than one at the same time. What I found was that I was always there. Where am I now that I need me? I’m here, just as you are. Don’t wait for the ride – don’t hope for the ride. Saddle up now, and embrace the journey. Celebrate yourself for who you are this day. Along the way, remember to try an outrageous act or two. You may find that your world is not quite the same.”

**************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and stay tuned.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Nana to her granddaughter Ella James born 10-01-2019. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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7 Responses to “you’ve had a good ride”

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    I just got home from the farm, where I delivered a bag of carrots and 6 peppermints each to my ungrateful oat eaters, neither of whom have give me s good ride in some time. In my mailbox sat a pile of grocery store fliers, a medical bill, and an envelope with
    my gastroenterologist’s return address. I haven’t been brave enough to open it yet. I’d rather get bucked off Frannie than be told I need another colonoscopy, but good luck to you. Too bad they don’t put us under for the prep!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wayside Artist says:

      *given me a . . . ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

    • No kidding! And I did look up the Plenvu which looks suspiciously similar to the prep I had 10 years ago!
      You were very good to take carrots and peppermints to your Doctor and Frannie – shame on them for ingratitude!!
      Avoid opening the envelope from your gastroenterologist’s office until you’ve had your favorite libation.
      hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  2. candidkay says:

    Hmmm . . . I’m sure he meant it in a good way but not sure he’d say that to a 30 year old, right? Seems a bit presumptuous. You may have oodles of ride left!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not sure about that Dr’s bedside manner!

    Liked by 1 person

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