Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Cure For Hypochondria

PATIENT: What are the symptoms?

DOCTOR: Most people experience numbness in the limbs. Also, delirium, mostly. A sharp pain just below the naval. Night sweats. Cold feet. These types of things. Ring around the collar.

PATIENT: Oh. Well. Oh. Lost my appetite too. Did I mention that?

DOCTOR: Where?

PATIENT: Somewhere around Barstow, perhaps. I met a man there named Lois.

DOCTOR: Lois? A man?

PATIENT: Yes. A man.

DOCTOR: Are you certain?

PATIENT: Must be. And to think, this Lois could get away with it.

DOCTOR: With what?

PATIENT: The pilfering of my hunger. You know, the removal of instincts, and such. And stuff.

DOCTOR: Go light on the abdominal strain. No more heavy lifting. Less time on the toilet. Go for a short jog every so often. Wear more sweaters. That’s my advice.

PATIENT: That’s advice?

DOCTOR: Sure. I am advising you. This is my office-- the place where I do my advising.

PATIENT: Oh. I see. My apologies.

DOCTOR: Nothing doing. Now. Let’s have a look at that tongue of yours. Open up. There. Say…well, don’t say anything.


DOCTOR: Well. Well. Well. Well. Well. Well.


DOCTOR: Well. It seems you’ve got a bit of that old brontosaurus tongue. Yep. Seen this before. Many Hypos get this. It’s quite common among you folk. Yes. Yes. Well. Well. Little splotches of auburn here and there, that blotchy swollen umber quality to it all. The thinning eucalyptus-bark texture. Oh. Gee. Well. Oh God. Whoops. Sorry about that. Little sting there, huh?


DOCTOR: Um. Well. Golly my Molly. Well. Well. That’s enough.

PATIENT: Thank you. So. I’m…normal…

DOCTOR: Normal? Ha. Far from it, buddy boy. But, well, there’s still hope. Hypos are still alive, and therefore we must let them believe that they can be fully functioning hot-and-cold running individuals who add to the reaped benefits of society, for the sake of the rest of us.

PATIENT: The rest of who?

DOCTOR: Oh. Well. Never mind all that. Now. Tell me something else that you think might be advisable to help me determine the extent of your…um, condition.

PATIENT: I write postcards to myself and then take them out of context. You see, stuff like, “the hurry is what runs from falling apples. The slash and whip of a driving rain. The mulch that’s warped and warped again. My sister’s moved to Guatemala, praying, ‘Internal organs, don’t fail me now.’ Trains are halted by herds of buffalo.” It’s not as jumbled as all that though. Not really.  

DOCTOR: Hmmm. Well. Well. Tell me less, and make it seem like more.

PATIENT: Oh. And there was this message I received yesterday, on a note clothes-pinned to my sneaker, “The latch has been removed from Door #7. Peeks for a buck apiece are no more.”
DOCTOR: Yes. Very consistent with these cases, I’ve found.

PATIENT: Really?

DOCTOR: Yes. Does that help?

PATIENT: Strangely, it does.

DOCTOR: It helps strangely? Or do you find it strange that it helps?


DOCTOR: Good. Now. What were you thinking while you were waiting for me to arrive today?


DOCTOR: Yes. You.

PATIENT: I was just thinking about how I really wish it’d make up its mind about raining today. Just to sneak to the corner store for soap was becoming a challenge this morning; and my gasmask has gone out of style. I was thinking about that too. And then, ‘Carried with thoughtlessness through glass doors, stones for a catch, lump apart what’s not money anymore, in the tromping in and off to do nobody’s business.’ And those thoughts came right before these other thoughts. Stuff like, ‘I really don’t understand the rain, at all. I’m almost made of matches, and I’m basically living on road games and extra innings. Typos abound in purgatory, and insomnia is as contagious as stomach flu.’

DOCTOR: You are deemed cured, by yourself first, in this instance, if you’d like, or are capable of such things.

PATIENT: If I were then why would I be here?

DOCTOR: Yes. Exactly. You’ve dismantled your own bupkis. That’s nothing more than the nightmare of reason pointing a pistol at your back, or is it just a finger in a coat pocket, a drive-by-day murderer rummaging through your symptomatic indecision in hopes of delaying your day of rest one more week? 

PATIENT: I’m less confused than that. Really. I know why I don’t know what’s wrong with me. What’s wrong with me. What’s wrong. Wrong. What’s…

DOCTOR: I’m sorry. Are you talking to me?

PATIENT: I don’t know. I’m queasy again. I’m difficult again. The pangs of prostatitis, or maybe just a lodged kidney stone, or a inguinal hernia of some sort. Shit, doc. I’ve got the weakest intestinal fortitude on the block. What’s right with me today? Nothing and everything. The usual. And there’ll be no mess to clean up after I’m gone. My life is simple subtraction without ever dividing. Open me up and all you’ll find in the autopsy is a pinball game gone rusted shut with no balls.

DOCTOR: Ahem. Well. Well. Ahem. I think that you’re being less or more specific, or getting there, or close, all the time. And we’re the ones unable to meddle in the scope of this you you’ve come to be, arriving here, today, just to be where you currently are. I think our business is better left on the lanai, for the moment, and we’ll just leave it at that. Feel better?

PATIENT: Hard to tell. I can always find something wrong with me, no matter what. My testicles ache. My toe hair feels like it’s on fire. But, yes. I feel better.

DOCTOR: Well. Well. That’ll be all for today, then. Drink plenty of fluids and don’t read the newspaper. Call me in 14 weeks if you’ve seen no improvement. Oh, and stop cutting your own hair. People are just being nice when they say it looks good. Splurge a little; go to a professional, will you? Trust me. It’s worth it. That’s why we have people who are trained to do these things, right? Well. Well. Take care. Or leave it. Whatever. You’ll be fine, kid.

PATIENT: Thanks.