A Short Story
“Okay, so I’m going to move your liver just a touch…it’s a bit out of place…and somewhat inflamed,” she said, as she performed the gentlest of manipulations over the right side of his stomach.
God, I’m glad she doesn’t have a surgical blade in her hands, Jonathan thought.
“And your spleen is inflamed as well,” she said.
Spleen? What exactly is that, Jonathan wanted to ask, but was stupidly embarrassed that by asking, he might appear…stupid.
Being in the advancing years set, any deviation from the status quo could be a call to arms for Jonathan. And any deviation in the medical arena was the one thing he didn’t want at all. But he promised his daughter that he would see a doctor friend of hers – something called a naturopathic doctor – someone her age, to give him a fresh perspective, so his daughter told him.
Herbs, supplements and this pressing of the organs. He wondered what kind of voodoo practice this was. But it beat the trip to the ER, where during the car ride there, he would cuss out the gods, pissing on about why he was put here in the first place with his daughter telling him to breathe deeply and exhale as she slammed her foot on the gas pedal.
He chuckled inwardly. The gods always have their entertainment, at our expense, he thought. The clue he thought he had about things had now been tossed out the window.
“Your gall bladder feels a bit sludgy, just like your liver. Have you been drinking much lately,” she asked.
He did the one thing his daughter asked him not to do, he rolled his eyes hearing the question.
“No judgements here,” the doctor replied to his eye roll. “If I don’t know what your intake is in terms of food and drink and other habits, I cannot properly help you.”
“Depends on what ‘much’ means.”
“More than a drink each night?”
She had that same bit of a mischievous look in her eyes that his daughter had when she knew the answer to her question before he had the chance to offer it.
“Alright, yeah…at least a couple each night.”
“What do you drink?”
“Um, mostly vodka,” he quietly answered.
“Oh, me too! It’s my favorite,” she said with a big grin that gave way to brilliant white teeth, or maybe they just appeared brilliantly white because they were in contrast to the firehouse red lipstick abundantly applied.
“I love flavored vodka’s. Rose flavored is my favorite. I even have a bottle here in the office. We very occasionally share a drink or two, after office hours, of course.”
“We?” Jonathan asked with an eyebrow raised.
“The other doctors here. There are three others…” she bent her head toward his ear and whispered, “but none of them are as good as I am.”
She gave him a gentle tap on the shoulder and told him to put his shirt back on while she tended to her notes.
She was a true redhead, her hair attractively gathered in a bun on top of her head. Small and graceful looking hands typed her notes quickly and efficiently into her laptop. Her attire was nearly wonderfully zany, he thought. Bell bottom pants, navy blue, with matching blue suede shoes that barely covered her feet. A pale blue cardigan sweater, and a white, what looked to be cashmere turtle neck sweater under the cardigan. Large, silver hoop earrings, matching the silver nose ring, didn’t fit her, he thought, but then again, they did.
“How are your bowel movements,” she asked, not peering over her black rimmed glasses, waiting for his answer.
Jonathan let out an audible groan. “Mercy, must I tell you that?” as he settled into the chair facing her.
“It’s all in the poop, Jonathan. I can tell so much of what is wrong with an individual by just looking at their poop. I have several clients who will send me pictures of their poop so that I might see all the nasties lurking there, and thusly, help them better had I never seen their droppings.”
“Photos of poop?” he asked.
She just smiled.
“Can’t we just do some tests or something,” he asked.
“Of course we can do some tests. What would you like, the scope up your arse, slithering like a snake through your intestines, and god forbid if the instrument goes just a touch awry, not to mention that I believe those scopes are used over and over again – of course, they’re sanitized, so they say, between visits of the 60 or so patients coming in each day for picture taking of their innards. Or perhaps consuming a large barium cocktail is more to your liking – have you ever had one?” she finished, once again with that mischievous look in her eyes.
Jonathan sighed. “Alright, what would you like me to do?
“Ah, an open-ended question a gentleman should never ask of a woman,” she answered, and then let out a giggle.
“Let me rephrase that one, what do you think is wrong with me?”
“Well, you’re decently fit for your age. Your weight is appropriate, your nerves seem to be steady, your heart beats as it should and your blood pressure is spot on. Now, that tummy of yours is a different story. I can feel the agitation in there along with that bit of swelling here and there. It could be the alcohol, or not. So, instead of metal scopes up your bum and nasty tasting chemical cocktails, how about some blood tests?
“Of course not. It would be delightfully grand if you started taking a couple of herbs and a few supplements. I’ll detail it all out in an email that you’ll get tomorrow. Nothing too drastic, just a bit of the natural to get you going. I’ll also send you an authorization for the blood work I’d like to be done, and then we can go from there.”
She closed her laptop, set it aside and got up, opening the office door.
Jonathan forced a bit of a smile and offered his hand once they were out in the waiting area. She smiled, gave his hand a gentle slap, and instead of the handshake, gave him a hug.
“Um…well, thank you Doctor, ah…”
“Eliza…just Doctor Eliza will do.”
He turned to walk out the door when Eliza called after him.
“And Jonathan…poop photos. Send me your poop photos,” she finished, flashing a smile.
He nearly tripped going outside, but steadied himself as a young man passing by asked if he was okay.
“I’m…I’m fine. Thank you.”
He wasn’t sure whether to let out an audible scream, or laugh uncontrollably. He felt the urge to do both. But he could hear the laughter from the gods and strangely enough, for the first time in his life, joined them in their laughter.
Tonight’s musical offering:
Zequinha de Abreu: Tico Tico / Daniel Barenboim, conductor · Berliner Philharmoniker (2 minutes in length)