Monday, January 22, 2007

A Visit to the (Medical) Doctor

My (medical) doctor's appointment was for 10:25am, so I arrived at the practice at 4:30am, bright and early. I could not gain access until 8:30am when a surly receptionist let me enter. She bid me sit in a waiting room and wait. I amused myself by reading a National Geographic magazine from 1986. Doctors' receptionists always place a large collection of aged, filthy, germ-ridden magazines in waiting rooms so that all visitors will catch at least one disease from them. You see, doctors become foul-tempered if they are forced to deal with perfectly healthy hypochondriacs or fakers, so receptionists attempt to provide them with genuinely ill patients wherever possible.

Because my appointment was relatively early in the day, fortunately there had not been enough time for a serious delay to develop, so I had only to wait until 2.45pm before I was seen. I picked up a cold from a copy of Amateur Photographer (Jun 1990), so felt suitably ill to justify my visit to the doctor.

"Come in and take a seat," said Dr Paré, a spiky and alarming man. "What seems to be the problem Mr Carew?"

"I have it on good authority that I am ill," I said. "My abdomen was identified as the seat of the malady. I wish you to confirm whether or not I am to perish."

Paré agreed to examine me, asking that I expose my stomach so that he might prod it.

"Is it painful when I do this?" he asked, punching me hard in the belly. When I indicated that it was indeed sore, he announced that I would need an X-Ray immediately. He had a special X-Ray camera that looked exactly like a normal digital camera and with it he proceeded to take a great many pictures of me. Apparently the special X-Ray rays would only work if I was completely naked though, so I was a little embarrassed by the whole episode, but readily agreed so that a full diagnosis could be made.

"Well Mr Carew, it's not good news," Paré announced. "I see at once that you have an abundance of umbrella ferrules obstructing your pyloric antrum which may lead to you developing fistulous withers. Your gall bladder contains some two quarts of inspissated bile, your greater omentum is strangulated beyond recognition, and your gullet is ruptured. Tell me, Mr Carew, how you came to swallow so many umbrella ferrules."

I told him I had no memory of swallowing any portion or segment of any umbrellas at any stage in my life, an assertion which only angered him.

"Mr Carew, I know that the popularity of programmes such as Jackass and The Late, Late Breakfast Show has encouraged a stunt culture wherein people perform dangerous acts for fun or fame. I expect you have been filming yourself swallowing countless umbrella ferrules and posting the film on YouTube to entertain American teens. As usual, it is up to us medical doctors to patch you up when things go wrong. Sigh. You are doubtless in tremendous pain: I cannot fathom how you have tolerated the paroxymal agony and concomitant tympanites for as long as you have. The esophageal neoplasms alone must be tortuous. I'm afraid your macho antics have resulted in you having but months to live."

I gasped and begged him to help me out of my predicament. Seeing my tears and desperation to cling to life, he softened and agreed to assist me if I promised to never swallow any species of ferrule again in an effort to show off to internet users. I agreed at once.

"Well then, what can I suggest?" mused Paré. "First you must daily take a copious draught of an infusion of 'blessed thistle' and ipecacuanha. This will cause violent vomitting and it is to be hoped that you reguritate those ferrules directly. You must then take a gentle purgative, antispasmodics, and some iron jelloids. They'll get you ship-shape before you can say 'orthomyxoviridae'! You are a lucky man, Mr Carew. I do not know who told you about the danger you were in, but they did you a great service - had you not seen me today, you would have been dead within 3 months."

I thanked Dr Paré and returned home, collecting the prescription drugs on the way. As soon as I got in, I smothered the little scottie dog in kisses and thanked it a thousand times. It truly is a guardian angel. I regretted all those times I insisted on playing Monopoly as the racecar or ship.

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