Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Monday, January 23

Call Call

My intern is paging with questions about the Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole dosing and whether or not we should start treating for TB empirically. Did I show you the chest X-ray yet?

I see Dr Merteuil and she taps the corner of her mouth with two fingers together, signaling a smoke break.

‘Five mg’s per kg Q six of the trimeth component,’ I tell him, heading out with Merteuil. ‘And no.’

She tells me the pancreatic cancer man’s surgery revealed omental caking. I scrunch my nose at the bad news. We walk into the smoking garden the hospital furnishes us; this generosity is to prevent patients from seeing our hypocrisy.

My phone receives a clear signal for the first time in hours. It begins a polyphonic verisimilitude of Pedro the Lion’s ‘I Am Always the One Who Calls’ to alert me that I have new messages. I check the display. Three new messages—I like that number.

I autodial voicemail and sit next to her on the bench. The first message is Stockholm telling me she had a nice time on Saturday.

‘Stockholm doesn’t have to work tonight,’ I tell Merteuil while listening to the message. She lights a cigarette, taking a long drag from it. ‘She wants to have dinner.’

I press nine. The next message is Birmingham.

‘Birmingham wants to grab a beer tonight before meeting some friends,’ I say, raising my eyebrows at Merteuil.

She nods, looking at something on her cigarette or her fingers, I can’t tell which. I press seven.

The third one is my mom.

‘And my mom loves me.’

‘That’s the only one worth talking to the bank,’ she says, pointing at me with her cigarette.

I take the cigarette and inhale a slow drag from it. I hold the smoke deep within my lungs—absorbing its cancer-inducing goodness—and hand the cigarette back to her.

No word from Chicago, I think, scratching my neck. I should have shaved today.

‘Must have been a rough one,’ she says, mocking me, ‘bad boy. Don’t pick up my filthy habits.’

I exhale, glancing at the brief cloud of sparrows crossing overhead.

‘You know the type that deals with illness by deciding that the doctor needs to read WebMD?’ I ask her.

She nods.

‘I’ve got a flock of them. I spent the past forty-five minutes explaining the difference between MRI’s and CAT scan’s, when I should have been the discussing epistemology of disease, the scientific method, and the percentage of the GNP that’s spent on useless medical tests.’

‘I’m done with my cigarette,’ she says, standing up, ‘and you’re boring me now.’

I laugh and we head back inside.


Blogger Damon writes:

I just caught up on the last month of your blog. I'm enjoying it immensely.

Premiere DTB show here in town on Friday, Feb. 17th.


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