What Should I Do When The Doctor Hits Me On The Knee?

The time is coming for me to schedule my annual check up with my doctor. I will do what I should do and get it on the calendar soon. I am a believer in routine check-ups. I gained the gift of more time with my dad because his cancer was found early, during a routine check-up, and he was able to beat it.

All the same, there is a level of indignity that comes with a check up. My doctor is a good sort, and he makes the awkward parts as comfortable as possible. I have decided to reward myself for looking after my health and facing the awkward indignities. I am going to talk to my doctor and resolve one of the most pressing medical questions I have.

Hammer Time

Maybe this time I'll scream obscenities (image via samir @ wikipedia)

There comes a time during every check up when the doctor says “have a seat up on the table there”. I do that and he breaks out the little red rubber hammer. I know he is going to hit my on the knee with the little hammer and I know this is a reflex test. That is all I know about it.

I don’t know what I should do when he hits me on the knee. I think if I went with my instinctive reflexive action, I would jump up and say something like “hey man, stop hitting me”.  I might even push him back to get a little space between us so he couldn’t get me again. I don’t think that is the reflex he is looking for.

Am I supposed to kick when he hits my knee? I’m pretty sure I saw Bugs Bunny do that one time when Elmer Fudd was a doctor. Am I supposed to just sit there and let whatever happens, happen? I’ve played it both ways with doctors over the years and none of them have told me to stop doing either one. Someday I have to get a look at my medical records. I imagine that under the reflex test, my file has in successive years the following notes:

  • Omawarisan is overly sensitive to touch. He kicked my glasses off my face.
  • Omawarisan’s right leg is dead.
  • Omawarisan cried when I tapped his knee.
  • Damn. He kicked me again. I swore I wouldn’t let him do that again.
  • Omawarisan slowly raised his leg then put it back down. I don’t know what to think.

This time, before he hits me, I am going to ask him “doc, what are we going for? I need to know the expectations before we go any further.”

What if?

If we are there to have our reflexes tested, why not a true test of reflexive actions? I have a simple proposition for the medical community to adopt as the new reflex test. Dodgeball.

Dodgeball zen moment

Catching the ball = passing the test (Image by United Way of the Lower Mainland via Flickr)

What would be a truer test of your reflexes than how you react when the examining room door comes open and a nurse throws a dodgeball at you? The doctor could evaluate the choice you made and how quickly you executed the move you chose to protect yourself.

Of course, implementing this would require single use, sterile dodgeballs. No one wants to get pelted with someone elses germy dodgeball. I am in the process of patenting a line of sterile, recyclable dodgeballs. I will have a network of contractors who will pick up the used balls, clean them and deliver fresh ones to physicians all over the world. This will put me in the forefront of the medical dodgeball field. I will go down in medical history as an innovator and noted rich dude.

Until that time comes, if anyone has a clue what I am supposed to do on the reflex test, I’d appreciate it if you let me know here. Even better, if you have new ideas of things I can do in response to the knee tap I’d like to hear those suggestions. I want to keep my doctor on his toes.


44 Comments on “What Should I Do When The Doctor Hits Me On The Knee?”

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    First of all, I’d avoid any doc who concerns him or herself with making my awkward parts as comfortable as possible. Heck, unless I’m dosed up with Valium, no way my AP’s are ever gonna feel comfy at the doc’s.

    That said, the dodgeball reflex test would be a test of one’s overall reflex system. The reflex system is a complicated thing. Most living things have one — it’s an evolutionary adaptation to things that frighten or surprise us. Nowhere in human history do we find a more reflexive reflex system than in the Republicans in the House. Truly remarkable.

    So, my best advice (and though I’m not a medical professional, I can still act like one) is to distract yourself before the doc comes at you with the hammer. Try any or all of these: Read a porn mag (enlightened docs have those in the waiting room), play with your cellphone (works wonders with teenagers I hear), eat a Big Mac (keeping the Mac secret sauce from landing on your tiny gown is a good distraction).

    Be well.

  2. omawarisan says:

    Let me clarify, my doctor does not have wine and candles during the awkward parts. At least for the parts I can see.

    I have great hope for the dodgeball method.

    I like the texting idea too. “hey doc, I make paper clothes look good, don’t i?”…send.

  3. We found him Captain!! says:

    Why don’t you just get a patent on a machine that you will sell to the doctors worldwide. Call it the doctor’s ball washing machine?

  4. Todd Pack says:

    I never understood the hammer thing, especially after I reached a certain age and became subject to those awkward parts of the exam to which you alluded, because, honestly, I think the awkward part is a pretty effective way to test a guy’s reflexes.

  5. madtante says:

    The obvious answer is “kick him in the nuts.”

    Secondly, I don’t have depth of perception (really), so when people throw something at me, I can tell something is coming but I’ve no clue where it is. I was known amongst friends as a hilarious person to toss something (never hard, like a rock–they were friends, so they only meant to make me an object of a cruel joke) and watch it hit me in the face. I don’t even raise my arms to deflect/ catch cos I can’t frigging see it.

    I can serve a mean tennis ball–yet never volley. PE was hell.

    • omawarisan says:

      When I was in college I dated someone who did not have depth perception. It was terrifying to ride in her car. She couldn’t catch either.

      • madtante says:

        I drive 2 hours a day and it hasn’t been a “problem” but I have hit 2 deer in my driving career. I don’t think that counts exactly as the fers leap in front of you when you’re on the highway. I’ve successfully “missed” many more deer, turkey and small children, so it seems that driving works out okay.

  6. jacquelincangro says:

    This is a great business idea, Oma. I think that you should try to sell advertising space on the dodgeballs. “This dodgeball sponsored by Claritin.” You’ll be raking in the dough in no time.

    When the time comes don’t forget who set you up with this idea…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Another timely post. I’ve been spending a lot of time with those in the medical field poking at various places asking, “Does it hurt here? And here? And here?” Generally the answers are respectively, “Yes.” “YES!” and “!@#$% ENOUGH ALREADY!,” but those are all on the inside.

    It usually comes out like, “Yes, that hurts.” “It hurts there, too.” “Uh huh, that too.” I’m ready for new suggestions.

    The hammer hasn’t come out in a while, but might I suggest going the musical route, and break out into song?

    “If I had a hammer, . . .”
    “You can’t touch this. . . “

    • omawarisan says:

      Love the poking. They do that to me when I have a kidney stone. I don’t get why they just dont ask me to point to what hurts. I can make it abundantly clear where the issue is.

      What if you had a small balloon inflated and popped it while they were engrossed in poling? POW…..owwwwwwwww I think you ruptured something!

  8. KathiD says:

    Once again, you have solved a Problem of Our Time. Sanitary dodgeballs. I can’t believe this hasn’t been done. That’s how it is with all great inventions–as soon as you hear of it, you slap yourself on the forehead and think, “Of course!”

    Could you put your mind to something that would keep me from slapping myself on the head? I don’t have that many brain cells left, and I hate to damage any.

  9. You are so right! I think it’s supposed to test an involuntary reaction but you know you’re supposed to kick when he does it so how involuntary is it really?

    As far as the indignities of the annual checkup, during my most recent, the dr practically had me sign a release form before he performed the greatest indignity. He asked at least three times, “You did know I was going to do this today, didn’t you.” I guess they want to make sure no one gets a nasty surprise but he made me feel like he really didn’t want to do it and it was all my idea.

    • omawarisan says:

      The greatest indignity, I have to remember to use that this year. “Relax? During the greatest indignity?”

      Yes, exactly, I know I’m supposed to do something, How is it a reflex? It is contrived

    • Laura says:

      When they do it right, you start to kick a split second before you realize they’ve done it. Just to be clear, I mean the knee reflex thing, not the other thing.

      Seriously, I’m pretty sure the knee reflex gets triggered by nerves in the spinal cord before the signal that you’ve been hit gets to the brain. I experienced this pretty dramatically once when I stepped on a hot soldering iron — I remember thinking “why am I standing on one foot?” and “auggh! that hurts!” at the same time.

  10. Jane says:

    This is a legitimate worry; however, the post has awakened my inner pre-teen. (I don’t think that I am related to 12-B). Thus, I have a selection of responses that may not seem appropriate to anyone.

    Response ideas for when the Doc connects with the knee:
    1. Kick the other leg. Doc will never know what hit him.
    2. Suddenly jerk up the forearm on the same side as the knee. It might be even more effective if you were to hit your forehead when you do that.
    3. Buy one of those remote controlled machines that mimics the sounds of human flatulence and click the button when he strikes.
    4. sneeze
    5. cry
    6. do none of the above

  11. Spectra says:

    Interesting thing, Jane, as to #2 – several years back when I had such a reflex test, the Dr. couldn’t stop hitting my elbows with that rubber ax. He was actually having fun with me! I have a bizarre nervous system, and when he hit one elbow, it, and the other arm went flying upwards in unison! He smiled, his eyes got wide, then he did it again. Again. And AGAIN! He even commented at the phenomenon, ” It’s just like their dolls arms”, the way old fashioned dolls arms were connected with a rubber band, you pull up on one the other follows.

    I think it would be fun to have a punching reflex. She how he likes it!!!

  12. Betty says:

    Yeah, just wait until the most ghastly of procedures associated with your upcoming age: the dreaded colonoscopy.

  13. Laura says:

    I was once sent to a neurologist for what turned out to be a pinched nerve. You haven’t been whacked with a rubber mallet until you’ve been whacked with a rubber mallet by a rubber-mallet-wielding neurologist. When a regular doctor does the knee reflex test, my leg kind of bounces a little. When the neurologist did it, the result was one of those over-the-top exaggerated kicks you see in bad comedy routines. I actually felt like I had to assure them (a senior neurologist and an intern) that I wasn’t faking it. Then they whacked me with the mallet in lots of other places, causing other goofy reflexes. Then they gave me a bunch of electric shocks. Good times.

  14. I don’t think I’ve ever had the doctor hit me in the knee. At least not that I remember.

    Dodgeball…I hate that game. But I’ve never thought about how dirty the balls are. Maybe I should use that as motivation next time.

  15. Blogdramedy says:

    The hammer test is no longer taught at med school as it has been found to provide false positive readings. Readings of what no one has been able to determine but no doctor is willing to step up and admit it. That and the fact they’d no longer be able to bill it back to your health provider.:-)

  16. sistainsane says:

    to sterilize the dirty dodgeballs, you might want to consider patenting a specialized dodgeball autoclave, (making it round – dodgeball style – but flat on the bottom so it doesn’t roll away). we use a regular autoclave to clean our instruements at the podiatry office – works very well. And it doesn’t take long – so your contractors can keep your physicians well supplied.

  17. spencercourt says:

    Your doctor still whacks your knee? Mine hasn’t done that for I don’t know how long. I guess he can check my knee reflex by observing what happens when it’s “rubber glove” time….lol!

  18. Tears are running down my face from laughing so hard at this post and the comments…thanks for the giggle, Oma!


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