Rumors of My Death: Episode III, Series Finale

 

The Doctor Will See You Shortly.

And then the swinging doors to the  ER open. Cue music similar to the theme of Tales from the Crypt -only similar though since The Network doesn’t want to be sued. A young blond nurse calls The Patient to her doom, but she must go by the man who collects the insurance info and gives out the bracelets first. I have Medicaid, ” states The Patient, the slightest tune of joyous angels singing hallelujah come  into the background. (As we at the network have said before, we commit to diversity, and what’s more diverse than seeing how the other half lives  in penury? One needs a ghettoish/trailerish patient every other episode to pull at the heart-strings). “OK,” he says, only giving a second’s glance at the envelope The Patient brandishes before him that contains her Medicaid card.  He affixes a paper bracelet with her name on it. Apparently they don’t use plastic ones anymore. They don’t make anything like they used to we suppose, but maybe that’s the fault of the props department. Well, whatever…Let us proceed.

The Patient and her mother are led into a small room where we see our protagonist subjected to her temperature taken; it’s 100 F. Her pulse is over 100 too, but the nurse says “Perhaps that’s because you’re nervous about being here.” (Quick! Someone call out ‘Bingo.’ American audiences really dig the stating of the obvious). The blood pressure is still pressuring, so we see some foreshadowing of The Patient living out the rest of this episode without flatlining, but  you never can really tell with these shows. Keep watching!

More dramatic music as the nurse begins a barrage of questions. Are you pregnant? Do you use drugs or alcohol? Are you sexually active? The questions are each answered in a droning tone, “No.” We now hear a voice-over of The Patient saying in her mind, If only my life were so interesting.

“Do you have any medical conditions?” the nurse questions.

The Patient feels ‘IT’ must be stated, her constant friend who is always with her, whether ‘IT ‘  hangs out in the background or screams to the point of drowning The Patient out. “Um I do have a problem.” The words rush forth. “I have OCD and I’m terrified of going to doctors in case they find something wrong with me and I’d rather not know. That’s why I haven’t been to the doctor before now.” During this startling revelation, one that would make the incestuous secrets revealed in V.C. Andrews novels pale in comparison, we hear soap opera-type of music. The nurse is kind and reassures The Patient that things will be just fine….and then The Cup is produced. A flourish of dramatic music as the nurse announces she needs a specimen and points The Patient to the restroom down the hall. The Patient goes towards this sanctuary but she finds herself thwarted. Organ music, the sort used in silent movies to denote villains and dastardly deeds plays at intervals. A young cleaning woman and her cart is blocking the entrance. She stares down The Patient, who granted isn’t sporting her most charming-about-to-meet-God-dying-swan-look. Her curly hair is sticking  straight up reminiscent of Einstein. The Patient, tall and plump, is the diminutive one, not quite sure how to handle this situation. She, unable to meet the eye of anyone for more than a couple of moments stared more towards the bathroom than directly at her obstacle. The camera pans out a bit and goes back and forth between nemesises, sounding  the organ at each point.

Finally our heroine speaks. “Is the bathroom closed?”

“You need in here?”

“Yes, please.”

The woman moves her cart out of the way, and The Patient thanks her. This is a public service message tucked into the script interpreted as, “Just because you’re among the walking dead doesn’t mean your manners should also be on their last  legs too.” We expect this idea to be so popular it will span generations, be woven into samplers, and sell many Blu-Ray discs.

The Patient heads towards the handicapped stall preferred by most portly women when not needed. At The Network, we want to get a reward for positive portrayals of mentally ill persons, but sometimes an artist must pursue the artistic muse, that fire of creativity, which results in a crude sketch of Howard Hughes incarnated into the mind of our heroine.

The patient unscrews the cap. “What is it that makes capturing your own urine in a container so fascinating?” says the voiceover of The Patient. We hear a tinkling of piano keys and cymbals to drown out the sound of The Patient voiding.  She fastens the lid on her handiwork, washes her hands and the bottle for good measure, then out into the frightening world of the hospital once again.

Conferring around the writers and producers of ER, we come to the conclusion that Emily Post never mentioned manners or propriety  in regards to brandishing urine specimens in front of a live studio audience. We decide to have The Patient conduct herself with discretion in the matter (after all, we’re hoping she’ll win an Emmy). The Patient hides her ‘prize’  with both hands holding it in a vise against her stomach. We infer her thoughts in the matter as thus: “If the golden hue of regular urine be offensive to the eye, perhaps this color will be twice as bad.” The secret liquid in her hands, at the risk of sounding vulgar, looks as though one has mixed Red Bull energy drink with tea. This is partly due to a urinary analgesic that she uses and the disease itself.

A small office is where The Patient is shown to give her contribution. A plump African-American woman accepts the gift by telling her to set the cup down in the sort of plastic tray they give hospital patients to spit.  (A little note from the writers and producers of the show: As we at The Network have stated before, we are committed to diversity, blah blah, etc., but the head writer feels that unless the person of color is speaking Swahili, has a Jamaican accent, or can mimic Flava Flav, to describe every person who isn’t WASPy  “seems kinda racist, kinda.” So we only offer up one token African-American to show our commitment to whatever we committed to, but there are actually three in this series. In other words, we are afraid we would sound racist when we didn’t mean to be).

Flava Flav of Public Enemy
He isn’t just a brother,
He is THE BROTHER!

Then the blond nurse leads her to her room. “Taps” is playing in the background now. The Patient sits down on her bed and the nurse brings her a gown.  “You need to take your shirt and bra off and put on this in case he needs am x-ray ….”

“WHAT?!” cries our heroine. We hear the  sound of a banging down of keys on a piano. “Is that routine?” The Patient’s voice shows an escalating panic, which makes one curious whether she will run away, collapse, or maybe even fight.

“It’s just in case,” the nurse reassures her and leaves. It appears this episode ER is quickly turning into Girls Gone Wild: Hospital Edition. But no, the actress who plays The Patient wishes to be seen as tasteful; therefore, she exudes to the audience the modesty of Botticeli’s Venus as she quickly dons the hospital gown.

Like this but with less fanfare and more stretch marks.


A male nurse comes in and introduces himself. Wow, he doesn’t even seem gay, thinks The Patient (Diversity strikes again! A male nurse AND not even gay. Take that, Stereotypes! Mind you if I had any say in character development, I’d have him so campy people would think he’s the incantation of Liberace or a character from La Cage Aux Follies…Just saying). He tells them that the doctor will be there shortly and that The Patient could watch TV until then.


The TV is flat screen and can be pulled up close by a patient waiting for the doctor to come and pronounce her dead. Voiceover says, “This wouldn’t be such a bad place to stay if a doctor isn’t around to mess with you.” The Patient has no interest in watching TV, but mindlessly flipping through the channels as her mind ponders deep thoughts is something to do. Oh Ellen is on. Flip, flip, flip. Wonder what Scott would do in such a situation as this, she thinks of a fellow blogger with OCD who doesn’t seem totally !@#$%^ by being afraid of everything unlike herself.  He wouldn’t have waited  long enough to be compelled to go to  the ER instead of a doctor, you dumbass. He wouldn’t think he had diabetes/kidney failure/ cancer/AIDS. Oh well, different strokes for different folks. Then her thoughts flip channel and she thinks of all the times she’s wished she was dead in passing. Oh. No. I DIDN’T MEAN IT GOD! What if it’s true that you have  to be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. What if I’m about to get what I deserve, and…..and……

….And the doctor comes in shutting off all irrational and rational thought. “I’m Dr. Boring,” he announces good-naturedly over dramatic musical chords.

Dr. Boring… Are you for real?

We at the Network feel we should interject here that once Clooney left the show, we had some trouble getting A List talent. But then we couldn’t even get C List writers after the show was cancelled, and yet we defiantly kept recording .  Hence we have characters named Dr. Boring and The Patient. Que sera, and if you don’t like it, change the channel. Some station somewhere must be playing Saved by the Bell. By the way, anyone have Screech’s porn effort? Anyone? No? Oh, well, my friend, The Rodrigo, has a super crush on  him, but never mind.

Dr. Boring has been informed that The Patient has OCD and a phobia of doctors that’s bigger than the state of California, but he seems like such a kind soul. The Patient says for fear of causing offense, “It’s not that I don’t like doctors. I’m afraid of  knowing I have some terrible disease…I’d rather just not know.” May the audience agree there’s nothing more silly than an avoidant personality, great material though perhaps?

“May I listen to your breathing?” Dr. Boring doesn’t want to freak out the nice mentally unstable patient. No sudden furious ‘doctoring,’ for which The Patient is extremely grateful. He listens to her lungs and seems not to be disturbed at his findings. And then…

The results are in! Cue drumroll! And the winner of America’s Got a Kidney Infection issssssssss The Patient!  Cue confetti falling. And the award is a generic antibiotic prescription! “You can have a follow-up in three days at Dr. Suchnsuch’s office. But,” says  Dr. Boring, seeing the fear in The Patient’s eyes. “But you don’t have to.”

Cool deal.

“If you aren’t better in a few days come back. The Cypro might not wipe out the infection completely or we may have to do some x-rays to rule out other problems like kidney stones.”

Cue yet another bout of dramatic music as The Patient asks dramatically, “Do you think there’s something terribly wrong with me?”

Dr. Boring is matter of fact. “I don’t think so.”

As the doctor is about to leave, he says to The Mother, “She’s tough staying away this long. Her urine was really dirty.” No doubt The Patient’s mother inwardly beamed with pride.

 

I'm strong like Chun Li!!!

For more diversity than you could possibly shake a stick at, this part of the show is dedicated with reverence to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., who said in his famous speech, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty I’m free at last!

“I’m free! I’m getting out of this without them finding something terribly wrong with me. Freeeeeeeee!” thinks The Patient, not believing she is going to walk out of those sliding glass doors with minimal trauma. Hallelujahs are sung in the background. The blond nurse’s parting words to The Patient’s thanks is “Remember doctors can help you get better if you do have a disease.”

Whatever! I want to go to McDonald’s drive-thru and get an Orange Lava Burst Hi-C drink and hope I don’t vomit it up.

After the illness

Two weeks later The Patient is telling of her ordeal, and though she now is recovered the memory remains so fresh  that she lets not a single droplet of urine pass without inspection for blood. She has also taken to sleeping with a Barbie doll, as though among Barbie’s lengthy resume over the years, warding off urogenital diseases and causing regression in 32 year-olds are new jobs. She omits this last tidbit, sleeping with a Barbie doll due to the general idea that her death is imminent  might be a little embarrassing.

“And so what did you learn from this?” ask the therapist

“Well, I learned that I ought to have a doctor…Yes, that I ought to.”

“You should have a doctor. You would feel better knowing you had a clean bill of health.”

“Duly noted,” The Patient replies. “But doubt I will anytime soon.” Cue wacky music that fades out as we enter our final scene.

It turns out that the hospital didn’t file her Medicaid, so they will have to sort it out with the hospital for her “Level 3 care” Level 3? We at The Network would hate to see what Level 1 care would be. A slap on the back and a, “You take care now and don’t die?”

When our heroine looks at the bill that thankfully will be paid for her, she is more than startled. “ $1033.00! MOTHER F-F…”The theme from Psycho plays as we fade to black.

 

Fin









The History of a Phobia;or, Physician, Heal Thyself and Leave Me the Hell Alone

Great, Lisa. You thought everyone needed a background history of your fear of doctors. Thought it would be a paragraph or two didn’t you? Then you could tell the ever so fascinating, graphic story of your kidney infection. But no, before you were done there were over 1000 words of something that could be daintily told in one sentence: I’m scared doctors will tell me I’m about to kick the can, so I don’t go to doctors. Amen.

So dearest readers, please enjoy if possible, and soon enough I will talk about blood in urine and other pleasantries.

When I was a little girl, my mother took me to the doctor for every sniffle and I had a cold at least once a month. This didn’t bother me much because I hadn’t yet come up with the idea of croaking from several different diseases. This isn’t to say I didn’t think I was weaker than other children, because I did, and actually was in a way.  I think the hyper-reflexia wore me out easier since my muscles never completely relaxed, and maybe in those days I hung on to a cold longer than other children (but then, I also was eager to stay out of school as long as possible). Also, it isn’t to say I thought I’d live to see adulthood. In fact, by the time I was 8, I convinced myself I would die by my 10th birthday. It was 1987 and the war on drugs was in full swing.  I became obsessed with it, convinced by all those public service ads that I would soon die. It was almost like a catching disease, and I began to imagine that years ago someone gave me drugs, which I couldn’t remember, and by delayed reaction I would die years later. Ten seemed like an evil age because it was double digits and by all those drug ads, I thought that once you got that old an almost irresistible force came and you got strung out on coke.

My Brain, Age 8

By the time I was 12, however, I had for the most part given up my “catch-a- drug- addiction-obsession” and focused it more on “the-police-and everyone-will-think-I’m-on-drugs-and-arrest-me-obsession.” (Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I either A) was an insane kid not in touch with reality, or B) I was just really, really dumb to believe such things as old as I was). It was about this time I stopped going to doctors. By my teens, I seldom had colds and Mom figured out that if I did have one, it wasn’t necessary to put me on antibiotics for a viral infection.  As I grew older a blanket of  uncertainty regarding my health seemed to be thrown over me. I saw signs in everything of impending doom, of thinking the normal discharge from my you-know-and-if-you-don’t-i-ain’t-telling-you-what was a sign of cancer or something nice and fatal.

Fast forward some more and at age 19 I went for my first prodding. I only went because my shrink at that time refused to believe me that Paxil, the antidepressant I was on, was stopping my monthly curse, which it was (apparently I’m that 1 in 10,000 whose period stops on certain SSRI antidepressants. Who can beat those odds?). We’ll just say it wasn’t smooth sailing and I screamed. Not gasped. Screamed. The good doctor told me she’d done the procedure on a 4 year-old once, which was fine, but you hadn’t done it on me. Give my fat, yet surprisingly tight ass a break considering I had not even used a tampon in those days. When I got a notice for another exam a year later, my mother was like, “Eh, you’re fine.”

Down the road a little more and I’m around 21. I got off my medicine for about a year then and I began to bleed again like a normal person and that delightful fat which helped in vouchsafing my purity started melting away. It was crazy. I went from 250 lb. to 180 in a year, and probably would have lost much more if The Cold didn’t happen.  The year I stopped taking my medicine was manageable, though about every 15 minutes or so I’d feel small surges of anxiety that came and went, plus at various times a terrible guilt plagued me so that I had to figure what I had done to cause it. That was the year I kept thinking I contracted HIV everyday by unique, creative ways.  All that I could sort of manage, but then The Cold sent me haywire.

Anyway. one afternoon at school I felt so sick I might faint and was ever so grateful when my mother picked me up. At the time I had no idea that faintness would set off something  and I got better. That part of my brain that hides and waits to pounce on something suddenly exploded to the worst sort of panic I ever felt, and it was a panic that would not subside. My mind felt tightly wound, my skin felt as though it was crawling, and all I could do was remain terrified. Out of my mother’s presence, I felt sure I’d fall down dead or that I had diabetes and ready to slip into a coma. What I ate tasted different, like I imagine  death tastes, and I had no appetite. Worst anxiety I ever had I think and I almost dropped out of college before I got back  on medicine. Still no doctors except my psychiatrist though I was certain I was in my death throes. It subsided eventually when I returned to my fat, medicated self, but dropping dead still likes to hang out in the back of my head on the rare occasions I go far from home alone. “Enjoy that stroke, Fatso,” etc.

Fast forward once more, age 27, my second and last prodding. I just got Medicaid and the doctor’s office my social worker suggested thought it proper I be prodded and I acquiesced. May I say something here on doctor’s clinics who depend almost solely on Medicaid for their bread? In a word, they SUCK. My first inclination this was a sub-par place was the fact they wanted me to update my records twice, once without ever seeing me. The second was the nurse couldn’t find my vein to save her life. “Do your veins roll?” she asked. To which my reply was, “What?” I was a docile cow as the young woman stuck me at least 3 times without finding a mark, but my mother, a retired nurse, got cross. She asked for another nurse who got my blood the first try. Mama said later that people my age don’t have rolling veins and that after the second try on someone she always got another nurse to try. It didn’t particularly hurt, but I was feeling a bit annoyed.

The nurse practitioner was nice and I gladly report I didn’t scream, though I had to ask her for a breast exam. Um third inclination. Fourth inclination was when I returned to be told I was fine except my good cholesterol was too low, I had to wait 2 hours in the waiting room and I thought for certain that meant I had bad results. Fifth inclination was that if I didn’t make another appointment by phone, I could lose my Medicaid, which I knew was a lie. I never returned again, but no big loss because shortly after the clinic shut down for fraud. Big surprise there.

Image taken from (w/o permission):

http://www.adamhershposters.com/storefrontprofiles/DeluxeSFItemDetail.aspx?sid=1&sfid=43435&c=505559&i=233147815