A Second Opinion: Your Wife's Support and Tough Love When You're Sick

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The Stronger Sex

There's a resilience about women, even at their sickest, that I find inspiring and a little scary. Today, completely out of the blue, Diane decides that the best way to treat my symptoms is to challenge me to an ask-your-doctor discussion about the safety of my painkillers. I try to convince her that this little debate, while lively and fascinating, is probably not the best way to alleviate my pain and ask if maybe we could discuss epidurals.

She nods as if she understands. But I can see that she is humoring me, and in the game of marital chess she's already three moves ahead.

"Okay, fine," she says, "I'll stop harassing you. But only if you agree to call the doctor tomorrow and schedule a physical."

"All right already, I'll do it."

"I want it in writing." She reaches for her desk calendar and writes the following: "I, Stephen Fried, promise to make an appointment for a complete physical" and draws a line where I can sign. And I do.

Oh, she's a crafty one.

So in two weeks I have a doctor's appointment. I'm hoping to God that my back is no longer sore by then. (In my experience, most serious symptoms abate about an hour before you finally see the doctor.) But Diane had better be careful. Because she knows that part of the reason I hate going to the doctor is my fear that it'll awaken my secret medical fantasy. Deep inside, I actually want every diagnostic test known to man. I want everything from my eyelashes to my toe hairs analyzed. I want dye sent through every vein, artery, and capillary in my body, and then I want to be x-rayed and CT-scanned from every conceivable angle. Then it's on to the total-body MRI. And not just once. I want an MRI machine set up at the front door of my house. I want to be scanned every morning when I leave and every evening upon my return.

My computer gets a virus check every day. Why the hell can't I?

So you want me to go to the doctor, dear? Like so many things in marriage, be careful what you wish for.

Next month: What naked men talk about.


Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, March 2006.


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