Saturday, January 11, 2014

Newt Beginnings

"Dr. Beeblebrox! How good to see you!"

It's better than being viewed.

"I have some news for you! You have a new physician. His name is Newt... Malcolm Newt."

What happened to "Doc Holliday?"

"I'm sorry to say that he was gunned down at the Not-Quite OK Corral. It's a sad story, and one that will not bear the telling.... But now there's Doctor NEWT!"

You seem quite excited about him.

"Well, he seems a little more stable and he doesn't wave around a sawed-off shotgun in the office like Philastus did. That was a little unnerving!"


I hadn't been to the good doctor's office in over a year. I probably wouldn't have gone at all if my prescription hadn't run out two months ago. The nurses renewed my blood pressure medicine twice before saying that if I didn't come in that they were going to sent Guido out looking for me. Guido had gone looking for me before, so I acquiesced.

On Monday I went in for my blood work, making certain that they drew enough for the creatinine and ferritin check. Having not had a pointy-thing shoved into my arm for a year made me a little apprehensive. The Lab-tick used a number 23 needle instead of the usual number 21. I hardly felt a thing. She was sporting a black eye, though, when I came to. She was not clear about what had happened.

Yesterday morning I went in to see Doctor Newt for the first time. He has only been on the job since the first of the year, so I was one of his experiments. I did not mind, however, since he was one of my experiments as well.

We went through the usual formalities, the typical poking, prodding, and prostrating that accompany an annual physical. He wanted me to disrobe and put on a pair of paper shorts for the physical, but I told him that it was January of the coldest winter in three decades and that I would rather keep at least half of my body covered while he examined the other half. Besides, that amount of sans ropa would have been too much familiarity on the first date.

My creatinine was at 1.88, a little higher than a year ago (1.77), but lower than it was eighteen months ago (1.95) I appear to be rocking back and forth between 1.6 and just shy of 2.0 over the last five years. My kidneys show no further signs of disagreeableness. So, I guess that I have damaged them about as much as I am going to do. Dialysis is probably not on the horizon any time soon, if at all.

As I suspected, my ferritin was up, since I have not had a phlebotomy in a year or so. I measured 264, 110 points up from a year ago. I only had one phlebotomy during the past twelve months, and that was shortly after last year's annual physical. I think that I will need two of them this year, perhaps six months apart. Of course, if the Red Cross would forsake their misguided notions that there is something wrong with my blood, I could take care of this myself by donating my iron-rich blood to the bank instead of having it contaminate some landfill in Utah Valley. I am certain the boys and girls at the Infusion Center are anxiously awaiting my arrival next week. Cake, ice cream, party favors, together with the usual back-slapping and hose connecting. What fun!

Then, on a sudden, Doctor Newt became quite serious. "Zaphod, I have looked over your blood work and there is something that is troubling me. It's your Mean Corpuscular Volume."

There is something about my blood that's MEAN? Is this going to affect my personality? Am I going to inadvertently lash out corpuscularly at someone when I least expect it? Am I going to be loud about it? Woe is me!

"No! No! No! No!" he said, as he answered all four questions at once. "This part of the report means that you have fat blood, with really large and muscular red blood cells, larger than anyone else in the world."

How large are they?

"Well, really large. As far as I can tell, you only have three red blood cells now, but they are really efficient. At any given moment you have one red blood cell in your heart, another one in your arteries, and the third in your veins. Every heart beat they change places, kind of like musical chairs. The good news is, when you have a phlebotomy, they will syphon out one of the cells and reduce your iron by a third. I suppose that you will only need a phlebotomy every six years or so."

Something to look forward to..... And I suppose that there is bad news.

"Oh yes" he grinned, "There is always bad news. They are going to have to use a bigger needle to get the little sucker out. I suspect that it will be about the size of a fire hose. I have already made the order to US Steel for it. The needle will be ready next week. You may want to prepare yourself."


"Dr. Beeblebrox! How did it go? How did you like our little Newty?

He was.... Oh, I don't know... What can I say?.... Maybe he was... hummm..., disarmingly charming? I suspect that's the case..... I'll let you know next week.