Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chapter One of New Book


I’m starting to get a little nervous.
Starting to get nervous? Cripes. I’ve been nervous the whole freaking hour that I’ve been trapped in this dingy office.
Technically, I’m not trapped. I just feel trapped. I’m free to go at any point. The door is open, and freedom is just a few feet away. But I still remain seated, arms folded, legs crossed. The walls are completely white except for one single poster. When I first saw the poster I really didn’t pay much attention. It was of osteoporosis, of all things, and I figure that unless I’m seventy nine years old, there’s not much I need to know about it. But then I started to get desperate. And now I have read that poster over a dozen times.
Frankly, I’m starting to get nervous about osteoporosis. My diet is lacking in dairy. I just know that it is. Unless you can count Coffee Creamo.
Or chocolate bars.
I resolve right then and there that as soon as I ever get out of here I’m going to buy a big bottle of calcium supplements. I’m going to have the biggest, densest bones ever. I’ll be freakishly solid. People will envy me for my bone density. This is my new goal.
Finally, the doctor enters the room and closes the door behind him.
“It’s a good thing you came in today, Maddy,” he began as he sat down. The strained, pinched, expression on his face worries me.
My stomach lurches.
“It was positive, wasn’t it?” I ask. I was sure that it was, but still, this is hard to take.
He shook his head. “The pregnancy test was negative. But while the lab tech was running the test, she noticed that your urine had a fairly strong, foul odor. So we ran some other tests on it. As it turns out, it has some very unusual characteristics to it.”
“Unusual how?” I ask.
“There are organisms in it that are very unusual. In fact, there are no documented cases of them ever being seen in humans. It’s very perplexing. I’ve consulted with a specialist in ID, infectious disease, and he wants you admitted for tests. It could actually be quite serious,” he says, his face grave.
“Admitted? Like to a hospital, or something?”
“Yes. I’m afraid so. But it looks like we might have caught this thing early enough to nip it in the bud, so to speak. You’re vital signs are stable, and your physical exam seems perfectly normal, so there’s reason to be hopeful that it hasn’t started to effect your other systems.”
“I don’t want to go to the hospital,” I say. “I feel quite fine, so…”
“You may feel fine now, but…it’s a race against time to figure out what is going on here. Frankly, we’re all stumped. Right now time is on our side, but soon- and there’s no telling how soon- you’ll start to deteriorate into kidney failure, which will lead to other organ failure. We have to pursue this rather aggressively. There is no other choice, I’m afraid.”
I slink down in my chair.
“I just… I have a paper due, and some other stuff. But once things settle down with school I’ll check myself in. I promise.”
“All the arrangements have already been made. The ID specialist will meet you in the ER. He’s waiting there now.”
I slink down further into my chair, trying to make myself invisible. I chastise myself for this whole stupid, hair brained scheme. If only it wasn’t for that damn lousy, nosy lab tech. What business is it of hers to be smelling my urine, anyways? She should have just done her job and done the pregnancy test, nothing less and nothing more. I would be out of here now, enjoying my calcium pills.
“Can I tell you something… off the record?” I ask.
He looks puzzled and gives a slow, wary nod.
“Would it make a difference if I said that the urine wasn’t mine?”
“Well, yes, it would make a difference. A huge difference. You need to tell me exactly whose sample it is. Her life could be in danger.”
I look down at the floor, too embarrassed to look him in the eye.
“It’s not exactly a person,” I confess.
“Come again?” he asks.
“It belongs to my cat, Shirley.”
“You brought your cats’ urine in for a pregnancy test?”
I nod sheepishly.
“For what purpose?” he asks.
“Well, do you know how expensive it is to take a cat to a vet? A simple test like that could cost a hundred dollars!”
“I see,” he says pointedly. “So you decided to commit fraud?”
“It’s not fraud, it’s just…I’m a student. I don’t have any money for vet bills. I don’t even have money for…for food…or calcium supplements, which I apparently might need, by the way. And there are no free clinics for cats. So what was I to do? And do you have any idea how hard it was to collect a urine sample from a cat?”
“No. And I am certainly not interested in finding out. I have spent half the morning on the phone consulting with other doctors because of your little scheme. You’ve completely wasted my time, and the time of all my patients whose appointments have been delayed because of you and your cat. Not to mention the fact that the very head of infectious disease has cleared his while morning for you. You have made a complete mockery of the Medicare system that we are so very fortunate to have. I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask that you not return to these offices.”
I nod slowly. “All right. I suppose that’s fair. But just for clarification, before I go. That test was negative?”
“All I can tell you is that it was negative for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. The test was not exactly designed for cats and the results are totally invalid,” he said with indignation before he stalked out of the room.
At first, I’m a little slighted that he reacted so harshly. But then the more I think about it, the more I begin to take offence to it. It wasn’t like I did anything wrong, or at least not really wrong. Some people don’t even shower before their Pap test, and that should be grounds for dismissal right there. I for one, I am very meticulous in my grooming before pap tests, a fact which I would think he would at least consider. Maybe what I did was a little wrong, that I’ll concede, but no one’s perfect. But still, I’m surprised he wasn’t a little more understanding of my situation. Perhaps it was all for the best. And besides, it’s not like Dr. Reeder’s the only doctor in the world, right? There’s other fish in the sea. And the least he could do is have trendier posters on his wall. Like for Lupus or that disease that Micheal J. Fox has, whatever that was again.

1 comment:

Lorrie said...

I love the first chapter! Send me the epitaph thingy if you have it. Sounds really good Dini! How is your food poisoning? I feel partly responsible although I didn't allow the crude woman with the bad laugh to fill up an entire section of Bridges. Bastards.