My whole family is sports impaired. Only one thing causes our competitive drive to shift out of neutral and into turbo: our health. It becomes a lot like a game show or a televised sporting event. There is no emcee, no audience, and no prize money, but the competition is weirdly fierce.

After a particularly good medical check-up, we post the test results on the refrigerator as if it were a grade school spelling test on which we got a big red A+ marked at the top. Even then we are not satisfied until we call the other members of the family and gloat.

After my check-up one year, I couldn’t wait to call Mom.

“My blood pressure was 138 over 80,” I said. “Top that!”

“Oh, yeah,” she countered, “I happen to have a sphygmo…sphigno…a blood pressure cuff right here (pump, pump, pump, hsss) and it reads 130 over 75. Ha!”

I was so upset over losing the blood pressure competition that I briefly considered calling her in the middle of the night every day for a month. Once I had dragged her from the depths of her slumber, I’d shout, “Boo!” into the phone. I’ll bet the next time she saw her doctor, her blood pressure would be up at least 30 points.

Maybe I could sign her up for the Dessert of the Month Club. In the upcoming Glucose Level Finals, I might trounce her by at least 20 points.

In the event that one or more of us is ill or injured, the tournament rules abruptly change. The blue ribbon now goes to the family member who suffers most grievously. The game show becomes more of a Can You Top That Tragedy format. 

Last fall when the flu swept through the area, my cousin called me daily for the next round of the game.

“I have a temperature of 102 degrees,” he croaked.

I returned the volley with a top-spinning back-hand.

“Oh, yeah, well my fever is so high that my head burst into flames and roasted our pet parakeet, who happened to be perched on my head at the time,” I responded.

(We are not above cheating in order to get the win. He lives really far away. How would he know?)

He lobbed the virtual ball back over the net with the comment, “I was so weak and dizzy that I stumbled and fell to the floor and caught my arm in the floor drain. I had to saw off my arm with a rusty Swiss Army knife. Gangrene set in and the entire limb is in an advanced state of decay. Game, set, and match!”

Darn! I had nothing to beat that, even if it likely was a gross exaggeration or maybe an outright lie.

I saw my chance to advance to the next round in the Top That Tragedy Tournament, (Grim Reaper Division) when I recently had some blood work down as part of my annual physical. According to my doctor, it showed elevated lipid levels and a “slightly fatty liver.”

Personally, I was thrilled to hear the adjective “slightly” in front of the word “fatty” in regard to any part of my body.

How would my doctor even know about my slightly fatty liver, unless she had me swallow one of those tiny cameras which pass through a person’s body and give medical technicians a good look at everything? Has anybody ever considered the fact that the camera must then exit the body? The last time I checked, there was only one way out of the digestive system. Ouch!

After a lifetime of hearing doctors harp at me about my weight, now I find that my liver needs to go on a diet. How do you put your liver on a diet? Who’s going to see it anyway?

My other internal organs probably are taunting my chubby liver with sing-song chants like, “fatty, fatty, two by ten, crowding out the abdomen” or “fatty, fatty, in a while, won’t produce your share of bile.” How humiliating for my poor liver.

So I signed up for an aerobics class. Maybe that will help. I don’t do anything at the class but stand there and listen to the thumping rhythm of the accompanying soundtrack, but believe me, my liver is sweatin’ to the oldies in there.

In a few short months, my liver should be so svelt that I expect to win the Miss Internal Organ 2020 competition.

I hope that my rhinestone tiara prize is more impressive than the one my sister won in the Pancreatic Princess Pageant of 2012.



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