Thursday, December 14, 2006

no doctors please

If I ever decide to quit the day job and do stand-up instead, I don't want my audience to have any emergency room technicians in it. That would have to be the toughest crowd you could get. You can't shock them; they've seen everything. You can't make them laugh; they're too busy.

And no wonder they can't be shocked: the people you see in ER waiting rooms! Some guy wandered in off the street with a lab order in his hand and what looked like a duck feather swooping grandly out of his hand-knitted beanie hat. He wore dirty blue jeans rolled up to mid-calf and big slopping work boots that coughed when he walked.

The focal point, though, was that duck feather. You knew he had to have sewn it in there. What you didn't know was why. I thought feathers were only worn in caps at certain altitudes, i.e., the Matterhorn or similar. Apparently I'm wrong.

I got there first, so the duck-feather guy gave me a long, mean, go-to-Hell look when I got called back before him. Bluntly put, I was glad to be getting out of there.

The attending doctor was round and bespectacled, like Santa Claus but beardless and much younger. The triage nurse had already told everyone else my story ("This is the one who fell under a delivery truck!") and what they wanted to know was: Which was it, Fed Ex or Ups?

I felt a bit piqued by their priorities, but whatever.

I had to explain while laughing and telling jokes, because I felt entirely too ridiculous otherwise. Rule #1: When in doubt, use self-deprecation like so much social K-Y. (It works.)

They took X-rays of my right foot, and my right knee too. Nothing broken; just a hard wrench and a yukky sprain. That's a technical term. Feel free to use it.

The nurse wrapped the ankle in an Ace bandage and closed an air cast around it all to brace it up firmly. "This is great," I said admiringly. "Something for my children to respect."

(This is where everyone looks at me blankly. Don't they know this is what children do if you're not tagged like a deer? They jump on the injured limb and beg to bounced upon it until the limb falls off. It's a fact.)

"Is there anything I can prescribe for you to make you feel better?" The doctor asked me, pen poised over the prescription pad.

"A wife?" I said hopefully.

He rolled his eyes and made this long hissing exhalation in a manner that clearly stated, Lord, I do not suffer these fools gladly; why do You send them to me?

He made angry diagonal slashes across both open scripts instead.

So, no painkillers.
Doctors have such a keen interest in discipline. When will I learn?

He scrawled across the bottom:

Motrin, etc
use air cast while up on leg (as if I only have one leg. Now I have this image of myself as a flamingo)
right ankle sprain

I drove myself back home, of course. I felt like a football player with my ankle all taped up. Driving was an interesting experience. Try finding the brake with your left foot sometime. (No, don't. I was only kidding.) I found that the brake, when felt out with the left foot, isn't where you'd think it is. It's as if, in the subtle shift from right to left, space makes this massive readjustment and the brake disappears completely.

So I drove home like a hopped-up monkey who's too short to reach the pedals and just knows how to steer.

(Though that might be normal.)