Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ex Post Facto

In the middle of June, I dropped into "Doc Holliday's" office to see what kind of condition my condition was in. As I reported earlier, all my vitals were apparently okay, save that my ferritin was up to 123, a figure that would not have stirred a muscle in my physician's countenance in years past, but since having a couple of run-ins with my sister, he gets a twitch in his left eye every time I come in for counselling on my hemochromatosis.

"Boy! 123! That seems a little high!" This from a fellow who once thought that 409 was not only a great car, but a swell ferritin count as well. "You probably ought to drop down to the Infusion Center and give them a pint."

Last week I did so, much to the delight of everyone in the building. They had a banner, a cake, and a few momentos for me as I swept into the office. "Oh! Doctor Beeblebrox! Please take Room #1! That's how we feel about you!"

There are six cubicles in the office, all of them numbered except one. #1 is not numbered. I headed toward the unnumbered cubicle a little hesitantly when the Angel of Mercilessness said, "Yes! That's it! It's how we feel about you!"

"Hummmm", I thought to myself. "So this is how it's going to be. I am the cypher of the week."

A few minutes later she breezed to my side with a rather green looking fellow. "Doctor Beeblebrox, this is Igor. He is learning how to perform phlebotomies. You don't mind if he watches what I am doing, do you?"

"No," I replied, "so long as he doesn't touch me."

"That's fine, then, because we don't let Igor touch any of the patients yet. He has a rash."

The phlebotomy went as expected. The usual amount of screaming, unconsciousness, and whimpering ensued, with only faint traces on the walls and curtains of the cubicle where the spray hit. The uniqueness of this session was in the running commentary for Igor's benefit, as AOM described in excruciating detail every step in the procedure. There were no surprises at all. I think that I was a little tense throughout.

The first procedure was to take my blood pressure. "117 over 76. Very good Zaphod! Pulse 88! Wow!" The excitement in the room was tangible. Just think. A little lysinapril makes everyone happy.

Then came the sting of stings. "Igor, we use a local anesthetic for two reasons. One, the stuff really stings a lot, and it is really fun to watch Doctor Beeblebrox's eyes dilate and bug out like they do when I give him the injection. Two, it does absolutely nothing to kill the pain in his arm when we stick the really big needle in. It just tickles me every time he passes out." I decided to pass out before she gave me the placebo.

When I came to, she was commenting to Igor about the metaphorical properties of the blood bag and various insects in the wild that feast on the warm-blooded critters in the forest. I thought that I could use another moment of unconscious quiet and promptly dozed off for a second time.

A few moments later, Igor was putting a cold can of root beer on my tray along with a package of Lorna Doones. Actually, he tried to give me two packages of Lorna Doones, I suppose to make up for the fact that he had not brought a cup of ice to go with the soda. The Angel of Mercilessness came to explain to Igor that after the phlebotomy it was necessary to take my vitals again.

"117 over 76! How extraordinary! Blood pressure.........."

"No, that can't right! Let's do it again..... 117 over 76. Okay..... Pulse..... 137!!!!?"

"Third time's the charm.......," she said, as she ramped up the equipment again.

I could not resist. "What's the problem?"

"Your pulse rate was 88 when you came in and it nearly doubled by the time we were done."

I said, "When I came in here I did not have a garden hose hooked up to my arm!"

"True, but your blood pressure did not go up. If you had been traumatized, your blood pressure would have gone through the roof, not your pulse rate," she said nervously.

"But you took a liter of blood! There is nothing to have under pressure! My heart is having to work overtime just to get any circulation at all!"

"Oh! That seems logical... Oh look!.....," she said, point to the vitals machine. "117 over 76, pulse 136..... Great! It's coming down!"

"Terrific!" I opined.

"Okay, then. If you can stand up without failing down, you can go home."

I did, but waited a week before going to see the lab-tick over at the Medical Center. I went in at noon today in order to have some blood drawn for the ferritin check. LT looked me over and decided to take my vitals. "Hummmmm! 117 over 76.... pulse 135!!!!!!!"

I said, "Don't worry about it. It's coming down."

She took the sample; I didn't flinch... a lot. Trillium was waiting for me in the foyer.

"That was quicker than a heartbeat," she said.

Yes, indeed.

Friday, June 17, 2011


"Dr. Beeblebrox, I have good news and bad news!"

"Oh? What now?"

"I have prodded every orifice, thumped every organ, monitered every function, sampled every gland and you seem to be in fine shape."

"Is that the good news or the bad news?"

"Well, not all of that prodding, thumping, monitering and sampling is what you would call fun. The bottom line is that there is going to be less of a bottom line for me during 2011 and 2012. I had to tell my wife that we have to go to Tucumcari, New Mexico, for our vacation instead of the Grand Bahamas."

"Is that the good news or the bad news?"

"I know that you are going to post all this stuff on your blog site and that you are going to refer to me, as you aways do, as 'Doc Holliday', so I am not going to get any advertising perks from all of the funny things you have me say. You make me out to be a rather entertaining guy; I think people would like to visit with a doctor that is entertaining. But they don't know where to find me....."

"I'm sort of ambivalent about whether that is good news or bad news."

"Anyway.... Your cholesterol is fine. I think that the fish oil that you have been swilling down has actually proven beneficial. Your blood pressure is 5 over 2, and your pulse is 7, so apparently you have been doing a little bit of exercising; your blood pressure medicine seems to be working. Your creatinine is at 1.7, so you probably will not need dialysis until you are 187. Your ferritin is at 123. I know that's down 22 points from six months ago, but I think I am going to order a phlebotomy anyway just so I won't get another phone call from your sister. The last time she called I thought that she was going to come through the phone and extract my spleen with her bare hands."

"Tell me about it."


"That was a rhetorical request , Doc. I know all about it already."

"OK, then. Well, I should probably tell you the good news...."

"The good news?"

"Yes..... You have a braincloud."

"A what?"

"A braincloud. It is a symptomless, incurable disease, and you have only six months to live. So I say, 'Live like a king and die like a man'".

"What do you recommend?"

"Well, there is this little island, Waponi Woo, in the south Pacific......"

"I suppose that there is a volcano."

"Yes. As a matter of fact there is."

"I suppose that the only way that Trillium and I can get there is make a raft from four water proof steamer trunks and float there."

"I know of no other way."

"How will this help me."

"It can't hurt. Oh, and there is one more thing."

"What's that?"

"You are going to need an attending physician. That's the good news."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Well, Hoopydoo....

Yesterday I received a phone call from Dr. Wurlizter's office re-informing me that I had an appointment with DW on the morrow. The caller also wished to confirm that I had already taken care of my blood work.

"What blood work?" I asked.

"The blood work that was assigned to you six months ago when the appointment was made," she replied.

"No one said anything to me about making any such explorations of my bodily fluids," I rejoined.

"Oh, Dr. Beeblebrox, you say the funniest things. The appointment doesn't make much sense, does it, if the Doctor doesn't haven't any results to look at? Besides, if you will look on the back of your appointment card, you will see that there is a statement about getting laboratory work done the week before your appointment," she said with an audible smirk.

The notice was there, of course, but I was not about to let her get away with it. "What makes you think that I still have the appointment card?"

"For the same reason that you have every book that has ever come home with you during the passed 60 years. You hang on to everything that has been made from trees."

She had me there.

"If you can get to the lab in Provo before five this afternoon that will be in plenty of time". I told her that I would try.

At 11:10 StewJam and I went to play racquetball. We played one game. It lasted 40 minutes. The score was lopsidedly in my favor, but for the final 30 minutes I could not get the last point that won the game. I think that SJ decided to end my misery. And misery it was. As I sat there on the floor trying to recuperate, I had an old Bob Dylan song go through my mind over and over again. It was from "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid".

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Over and over again.

About two in the afternoon I went over to the Swiss Chalet in Provo where they extracted several vile vials for the blood tests, including, I might add, a ferritin check. The little vixen hurt me again.

Today at 2:00, I went to DW's office. They took their pound of Discover Card flesh and then ushered me into the cubical where they weighed me (I guessed 232) where they discovered that I am 236 in regular clothes instead of my PJs. Four pounds of clothes, keys, and wallet! Who knew?

She then prepared to take my blood pressure. "117 over 79", I said.


"That's what my blood pressure will be".

There was a moment of silence. "That is exactly what it is. How did you do that?"

"Know thyself, the philosopher saith".

Doctor Wurlitzer breezed in a moment or two later. "Everything's fine. Your creatinine is down from 2.0 to 1.8. At this rate, your kidneys will outlive you by 25 years".

"Lovely," I replied. "As long as I have something to look forward to. And my ferritin?"

He breezed out of the cubicle for a minute or two, and then breezed back in. "It is at 145. Well within acceptable limits."

"You don't know my sister," I muttered.

I have been trying to figure out how my ferritin could have gone up 25 points per month during the last three months when the previous three months it had hardly jumped a point. I suspect that it has to do with being sick for the past month. It is a case of false ferritin count caused by my body fighting the muck that I picked up while visiting the hospital. In any event, I am not particularly worried about it. I will probably have it checked in March. If it goes up again I know where to leave my excesses.

In the meantime I'll keep Knockin on Heaven's Door with StewJam. Tomorrow is another day of wheezing with a racquetball racket in my hand. With any luck at all SJ will whack me in the side of the head and take care of the next year's worth of phlebotomies.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Well, okay....

I have been accosted on every side about why I have not been writing. It is because I have no grist for the mill. For three months I have been waiting for my semi-annual checkup with the kidney-me-not doctor. I am going to have my ferritin checked at that point. For the ghouls who really want some blood-letting of some sort in this posting, all I have to say is they need to take about a quart in order to run all the blood tests that I am supposed to get. So, they will get a read on my ferritin and in the process reduce my ferritin. What a dilemma! If the ferritin is high, should I get a phlebotomy? Would I not endanger my health by reducing my iron excessively? What to do....me oh my oh me!

Is that enough angst to hold you for a while? I see the doctor on Wednesday. Who knows when his nanobots will have the results! I suspect that I will not have a lot of ferritin this time around because I have been eating nothing but plastic. I need some meat!!!!!! Chris gave us an Outback gift certificate for Christmas. They will be the first to know that my ferritin is fine. You will be the second.... or so.

Well, that's the news from Lake Irony. I am feeling pallid. I need to go lie down.