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