Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Catching

As a very young and very new social worker on the neurology service of a major metropolitan cancer hospital,  I was befriended by the Chief Resident.  He was short, dark and handsome and enjoyed the fact that my office always had a bowl of hard candy on the visitor's table.  I enjoyed the fact that he could sit silently in my office, quiet with his own thoughts, but there, reminding me that I was not alone. His wit and his compassion and his willingness to actually listen to the patients were added bonuses.  He was, in short, a mensch

For those of you unfamiliar with hospital hierarchies in the 1970's, a brief tutorial may be in order. Basically,  it was all about power.  Hospitals were color coded. Maintenance, janitorial, food service, nurses, assistants and physicians of all levels of training and certification, all the ancillary services -- each had its own color or style and, except for pediatrics, where Winnie the Pooh was popular across boundaries, people stayed within their spheres.  Friendships within departments were common; relationships between departments rarely extended beyond the work day. And the physicians were friends with no one, inside or out.  The competition to work with the most accomplished colleague, research the cutting edge therapy, publish with a noted scientist took their toll on personal interactions, let alone friendships.  I would say that our connection was a rarity in the building.   We never went out with our spouses after work, nor had lunch together, but we were friends.

So when he asked me why I was rubbing my forehead and scrunching up my cheeks, it was neither intrusive nor inappropriate.  He was a doctor and he was my friend, so I could burst into tears and reveal to him what I'd worried about, lost sleep over, was afraid to say out loud..... that I'd had a localized pain in the front of my skull for a week or so, my vision was somewhat blurry and I knew I had a brain tumor.  

Seriously, he closed my door, took out his little light, looked in my eyes and my ears and felt my head and then sighed, shook his head, and sadly announced that I had G M G......gornisht mit gornisht. 

It took me a second to see the twinkle in his eye as I translated ....  nothing with nothing..... and then I had to endure 5 minutes of "If you worked on the urology service would you have a bladder infection?" but the point was made.  Just because I was around sick and dying people 50 hours a week didn't mean I had to be one, too. 

I was reminded of this story by Ronni Bennett this morning in Time Goes By. her brilliant blog.  She's positing a relationship between commercials for diseases we didn't know we had and rising health costs. This is a subject on which TBG and I frequently wax eloquent (proving once again that we watch way too much tv) and her point is well-taken.  Restless leg syndrome?  Neither TBG nor the Big Cuter can sit still without thrumming a foot on the floor, and, much to my dismay, I noticed a similar tendency burgeoning in the Little Cuter over the holidays.  Ought we run to our health care professionals for treatment?  Or should they take up yoga and learn to relax a little?  

Since Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona won't pay for yoga classes but they will pay for office visits and prescriptions I know which way is more cost effective for my pocketbook in the short term.   Long term, the gym membership of $29/month would save BCBSAZ a lot of money.  But that would be logical, and we all can agree that logic and health insurance share an oxymoronic connection.

My favorite side-effect came with the early fat-absorption-blockers.  The commercials showed over-weight people gradually becoming slimmer and happier and bouncier and tripping the light fantastic through amusement parks and dance halls as the voice over talks about explosive diarrhea and the need to carry an extra pair of pants for the first few weeks.  Seriously.  An extra pair of pants.  They don't remind you to bring a big plastic bag and a ton of wet wipes but they should because that explosive diarrhea is not going to be pretty.  But why focus on that when you can lose weight without pain and fit comfortably in the roller coaster seat.

I know that it is possible for reading or seeing or watching to make it so.  Don't believe me?  I had physical proof, and witnesses to boot.  Read on, you skeptics, and become believers.

While I was pregnant with the Big Cuter,  Jane Fonda's Pregnancy Workout Tapes were all the rage.  Downstairs, in front of the big screen tv, I would delude myself into thinking that moving my bulk around would counteract the effects of McDonald's french fries.  There was an over-sized paperback book that went along with the tapes, and, of course, I had to have that, too.  Zanner bought it for me and brought it over and we were shoulder to shoulder when we noticed it at the same time - Jane Seymour, the pregnant person posing on the page, had a giant outie.  

Now, I had prepared myself for weight gain and large bosoms and nausea and back aches but an outie???? Nobody told me that was a possibility.  I whined, I sniffled, I sucked it up and went on about the evening.  And the next morning I woke up and there it was, in real life, right in the middle of the basketball -on- my- body- commonly- referred -to -as -Spike, my pregnant self had an outie.  

There are 2 outside witnesses to the fact that this physical anomaly did not exist before I saw Dr. Quinn's belly-button-protrusion.  Did I will it to happen?  Was it going to happen anyway and this was just a stunning coincidence?  Inquiring minds want to know.

For now, though, I'm going to keep an eye on the commercials and be more diligent about muting or ff'ing through them.  Bad things might happen otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Hypochondria R Us, Sister! Maybe it requires the kind of active imagination and empathic bent that Social Workers share to get a really good case of gornisht mit gornisht going...maybe it just goes with the territory. Someday, you and I may get to have a conversation about all that.

    I often cite that day during my first pregnancy when my belly button flattened into a disk as the day I fully realized that I do not controll my own destiny. There's just something primal about one's own belly button.

    And, YES, I find all those drug commercials ludicrous!


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