XII. Candid Verses: Sicko
Sometime around midnight, I woke up with a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. Like most hypochondriac Nepalis, I feared for the obvious and whispered aloud in that darkness : "APPENDICITIS!" Subconsciously aware of my looming death in a few hours but acutely aware of the immediate wallet-denting 9-1-1 call, I made an intelligent choice - Google!
The very first search computed the result I did not want to read: "Symptoms of Appendicitis: Sharp Pain in the lower right Abdomen." Hold on! Why am I holding unto my left abdomen then?" Feeling slightly better, I spent the next few hours scouring the WebMD site, empathizing with hundreds of old folks who had similar pain but diagnosed with a wide range of severe gastro-intestinal problems. It was like reading a horoscope - The more I read the symptoms of a particular disease, the more I felt convinced that I had it too, including rare diseases like ulcer, IBD, and even Cancer.
The very next morning, I contacted one of my physician friends, currently practicing in some remote Pennsylvanian town. Without much ado, he immediately implied "Gastric hola yaar!" The irony of life - I know it was a free consultation, but this was the same guy in high school we vowed never to visit if God-forbid he ever became a doctor. And mind you, I am very familiar with bouts of Gastrititis. It flares up when I try to go healthy incorporating organic milk and anti-oxidant rich raspberries and blueberries in my diet.
Unconvinced and still laden with pain, I tried to find a GI specialist through my insurance network and called in to set up an appointment.
"Who is your Primary Care Physician (PCP) Sir?" the secretary inquired. Apparently, you have to have a regular physician that can refer you to a specialist. In other words - you have to spend twice as much before your problem can be professionally assessed. I gave it some thought and answered:
"His name is Dr. Baral. Dr. Jagadish Baral." I blurted out the name of the only doctor I ever remember going to.
"Well, you need to get a reference from him" I surely would, but its been more than 15 years since I last saw him in Nepal. Besides, he's probably retired and I'm not sure he ever kept record of any of his patients. Obviously, I didn't explain this to her, but after several pandering back-n-forth calls with a cool physician I had befriended in my college, I worked it out.
"Sir, your appointment will be 3 weeks from today." Seriously? 3 weeks? What if my pain gets worse or maybe I just die? "In that event, you'll just have to call 9-1-1 and go to the emergency room. Is there anything else I can do for you today?" (Yes, you may kiss.............but I refrained).
The next 3 weeks were grueling to say the least. The pain flared, changed positions, temporarily vanished and resurfaced without any notice. I knew there was a reason why people say "The gut has a mind of its own!" Surprisingly, a few days leading to the doctor's appointment, my pain subsided and on the day of the visit, the pain was gone - completely! I was frustrated, but thankfully my specialist was a willing listener. He attributed my ease of pain to "placebo effect" before he professed his proposal:
"Well, I don't want to touch you before I do a bunch of tests. Then you can make an appointment to see me again. And we'll go from there."
Oh sure. Just great. I am now the official cash-cow. So for another three weeks, I took appointments to do blood, stool, and ultrasound tests supposedly at a subsidized rate often having to beg to find an earlier slot and made an appointment with the specialist again hoping he'd have a better insight.
As climax reached its threshold, just like in the movies, he read out his verdict: "The good news is all the tests came back negative. The bad news is I have no idea what you have" So, what next? "I propose you also see a urologist. I can work to see that you get an appointment within a MONTH."
I was clearly downtrodden. That evening, I lay restless in bed. I began to reflect on all the possible things I might have taken that contributed to this predicament. Perhaps, it was Dr. Baral. I remember how my Mom would request for anti-biotics for every little problem I had. I have read that taking in too much of that shit can affect your real shit and cause a lot of shitty things in your gut. Or is it really due to years of taking in processed food in the US?
As I felt the pain once more, I noticed that the elasticity of my trunks felt tighter than usual causing a strain. Since I am real uncomfortable about "going commando" , I quickly changed to a more comfortable boxer and felt that my pain was gone almost instantly.
Wait A Minute...........................!!!