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My ideal Friday morning is sitting in a dark hos­pital room waiting for an ultra­sound to be over. There are few things like the luxury of a life-deter­mining medical exam after a night of exis­tential insomnia. As a 22-year-old male trying to land a job in the next month, I’m not prepping for a gag-inducing gender reveal party. The only rev­e­lation I had this week is that I don’t have cancer. I hope.

Two weeks ago, on what was shaping up to be a rare enjoyable Monday, I found myself wincing in pain in the Roche Sports Complex. Specif­i­cally, I was in the fish bowl they call a “fitness center,” because I’m not above letting people check me out while I squat. My ego tearing at the sleeves of my extra medium T-shirt, I stood with 250 pounds on the bar at my feet.

There is no reason that I shouldn’t be able to pick up an eighth of a ton without injuring myself. As the doctor put it, there’s no reason why I should be picking up that much weight in the first place. Yet I found myself in the health center a week later, holding a pam­phlet with “cancer” strate­gi­cally placed in big bold letters on its front. As the doctor put it, I may have hurt myself lifting, but there was also a slim chance I was just a sore gym bro with a tumor inside of him.

In attempting to deadlift 250 pounds, I had strained my 150-pound frame to the point that I would ran­domly wince in public for the next two weeks. While this made a pro­found impact on my con­ver­sation skills, I began to suspect I wasn’t just sore from an act of sheer stu­pidity. Last Monday brought me an antibi­otics pre­scription and a long con­ver­sation about my trag­i­cally short body­building career.

For some indi­viduals, pon­dering mor­tality while attempting to find a job in the last month of school is the perfect recipe for a bender that ends in a zuc­chini field. Not one to stumble upon farms in the nighttime, I spent the week turning down drinks and explaining that antibi­otics and alcohol are sur­pris­ingly not on speaking terms with each other. Sud­denly, the rush from Monday to Friday became a marathon when the bedlam of fig­uring out plans for the weekend, hunting down a job, and preparing final projects become trivial before a pending hos­pital appointment.

I had to wait until Friday to pose for 63 pic­tures at the Hillsdale Hos­pital, six of which the Ambler Health and Wellness Center was kind enough to print out at my request. The silver lining to this unnec­essary and expensive photo-shoot is that, to the untrained eye, baby ultra­sounds and Joe ultra­sounds look the same. Mine are nothing more than blurry black squares, but after some minor edits and a dra­matic letter addressed to my parents, I’ll know if cardiac con­di­tions run in my family.

Two weeks to the day I limped out of the Roche Sports Complex, I found out there was nothing wrong with me — besides my utter dis­regard for my physical lim­i­ta­tions. I also hung up on a tele­mar­keter offering me life insurance. The gym and I are taking a break, but we might get back together in two to four weeks. In the meantime, I’m waiting to hear back from employers who no doubt will find this all very amusing and not a cause for concern.

Joe Pap­palardo is a senior studying mar­keting