Friday, May 21, 2004

Point me to the Nearest Placebo
Seems bringing da Son home from college resulted in additional passengers hitching a ride. Hitchhikers of the viral variety. The virus struck the tall and lanky one at the appropriate time, final exams. Coughing and weezing through those trials & tribulations, he was most pleased when it came time to come home. Somewhere in the college detritus we hauled back lay a tiny uninvited guest. Within days of da son's return, the balance of the family was laid out.
The college environment must have brewed up an especially fast-acting and mobile sort of virus, which was a surprise to me as "fast-acting" and "mobile" are not two words I associate with college life. If we became infected with any illness/disease from campus, I would have expected one more of the "docile" or "inert" kind. As this viral strain, let's call it Denisonium, spread through the house, thoughts of medical care started cropping up. Then visions of past visits to our doctor came up and those thoughts were banished. After a week of 10 gallon bags of spent tissues and deep sounding FM voices, occasionally broken by lung matter spewing hacks, previous visits were forgotten.
It was time for a medical consult. Off to see the Mangled Health Care Doc.
While he is a most pleasant and agreeable chap, the practice he's in AND the drug policy the practice and he adhere to, make visits there as painful as the reason we have for going there in the first place. No one in the family is a hypochondriac; the number of visits in the past 5 years for our entire family is less than a handful. And yet...going there makes us feel as if we were over-concerned with our health.
You expect to see a plaque akin to Bob's Bank (thanks to its frequent depositor, Garrison Keillor), "Neither a borrower nor a lender be", posted in the office. Say, something like,"Do NOT bring us your sick, your wounded, your ill-nourished"
The receptionist's desk is fronted by a vertical latticed work of glass, to minimize contact with the public. Banks have less face-to-face protection. I'm waiting for the installation of overhead fogging units that do a full body spray as soon as you get within 10 ft. of the reception. The receptionist is alive, I believe, although each bi-annual vist makes me doubt her body's ability to pump blood.
After the appropriate 45 minute wait tacked on to my arrival at the scheduled time, I'm escorted back to an examination room by a tropical colored uniformed nurse (just once..I'd love to see a white uniform) whose smirkish smile tunes up a bit as she weighs me in. She leaves. I open the first section of the NYT; experience results in my bringing the thickest newspaper possible...it's the waiting game. After finishing Section A, the biz and sports section, and halfway through the Arts section, the doctor is IN. Thumping, listening, poking, peering, & then deciding that 2 Tylenols every 6 hours and a shot of saline nasal spray will do the trick.
"But I haven't slept more than 4 hours the past two nights!?!? What do I do with the nasal spray, squirt it over my left shoulder for good luck and good health?!"
"Well...you're only viral, not bacterial. This'll pass in another week. Live with it and let us know if you really get sick, after the two weeks"
I thought leaving a deposit of the greenish yellow fluids that were emanting from nose and mouth in the inspection booth may have some ameliorating effect on my version of my health, but opted out of that action, hoping for a positive response to..
"Doc, how about a placebo? I'll play dumb and you give me something totally useless that I'll believe to be life-saving. I mean, if I really don't have anything worthy of proper medication why not give me improper medication?"
I heard his eyes blinking.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
"Pay at the front, no "placebo" checks this time..."

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