Some people define life as an ongoing series of tests.
If that’s the case, then I must be living la vida loca. Because I’ve had so many tests lately that I feel like I’m back in high school for finals week.
Some were physical, part of the regular battery of monthly fluid checks I undergo each month to confirm I’m more alive than dead.
Others were of a more intimate nature, testing biological systems I’d just as soon forget about, as well as my moral, spiritual and legal propensities.
The tests required more than a month of appointments at various clinics, business offices, strip malls and churches.
But they were well worth it. Because now, I’m happy to report, I’m officially:
• Cocaine-, Amphetamine-, Meth-, Opiate-, PCP-, Propoxyphene-, Methadone-, Barbiturate-, Benzodiazepine- and THC-free
• Bad credit-free
• Felony- and misdemeanor-free
• Cancer-free (well, for this month anyway).
It’s also been confirmed I’m not a child molester.
So I’ve got that going for me, too.
It’s amazing what the powers-that-be can determine once they put you under the microscope.
If one test tube of blood can provide information on everything from glucose and sodium levels to white- and red-blood cell counts, just imagine how much data can be collected from a dozen vials. Fortunately, I’ve still got one really good vein in my left arm that the phlebotomists almost never miss, so the blood draws were the easiest part of my evaluations.
The same couldn’t be said, unfortunately, for the next series of exams, which focused on, um, gastrointestinal functioning. The test – a do-it-yourselfer – involved four vials, one spoon … and a bucket.
It took me a couple weeks to get over my initial disgust to complete the procedure. That, and a pair of disposable rubber gloves.
Next came a series of credit and criminal background checks, followed by a controlled substance test. I wasn’t particularly worried about flunking any of them, though the drug test did give me a scare.
Outside of an occasional Blue Moon – which thankfully they don’t test for – I figured I was drug-free. So, when the technician dropped her 10-panel dipstick into my cup of clinically collected 100-percent-unadulterated Bill juice, I was surprised to see pink negative lines show up only nine of the 10 strips.
“Why’s the top one blank?” I asked. “Is that a control strip?”
“Naw, that one’s for THC,” she replied. “Though it doesn’t look like it’s absorbing correctly. Let’s try another one.”
This time, the strips for PCP, Meth and opiates also came up blank.
“Must be an old batch of test strips,” she said.
“Maybe you should try it again?” I suggested.
Finally, on the third attempt, all 10 lines worked and I was in the pink. Or, at least, pink enough to convince her to sign off on my drug certificate.
My final test involved a couple of videos, three group discussions and a questionnaire on how to recognize child sex abuse. The workshops are now a prerequisite for anyone working in a Catholic institution. Since some of the classes where I tutor chess are occasionally at Joliet Diocese schools, my attendance was mandatory.
The videos, which included extensive interviews with a couple of child molesters, seemed a bit dated. Though I suppose they aren’t the kind of training films that get updated on a regular basis.
The class provided a lot of useful information on how to protect children and report incidents. Still, given the scandals that continue to rock the Church around the globe, it came off a bit sanctimonious.
Now I’m down my last two tests. The first is a full-body MRI that involves getting shoved into a 24-inch diameter tube for 60 minutes. The second involves getting a six-foot tube shoved where the sun don’t shine.
I’d as soon go back to the bucket and spoon than undergo that one.
• Bill Wimbiscus, former reporter and editor for The Herald-News, has lived in Joliet for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.