Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Lapses and Collapses and Synapses

Mine is a very amusing and peculiar relationship with the medical community. I describe a complaint and practitioners say, "I've never heard that before." There are two possibilities, really:

1. I should never leave my house without my insurance card and a UN translator since I am speaking a strange language and that could prove dangerous;
2. I am unique in all of history, possibly a genetic freak or some mad scientist's experiment inexplicably switched with a normal child shortly after birth when I began exhibiting all the qualities of being unique in all the world, my parents swear. This would explain why clothing simply does not fit, why computers do not love me, why infants cannot avert their eyes, so let's go with this theory.

Last fall, a visit to the eye doctor went the way you'd think. Anyone blowing air into my eyes is going to get an earful, no matter the cause. He asked, "So what brings you here?"

His office is across the street from My Little Tenement, so it didn't take much. "I keep seeing these things - they're kind of on the surface of my eye - especially when I'm tired or dehydrated - they look like lint. What makes me see lint, Doc?"

He said, "I've never heard that one before."

I said, "You take checks, right?" Sometime later, I told my stepfather about this episode. He said, "It sounds like you're describing [such-and-such thing] I read about in Scientific American." I should've seen that coming. Years ago, I worked for a horrifying fast food chain and the stress of leaving my baby with a sitter for days on end and working 60 hours a week with a nasty commute for less than $17,000/year caused my brain to declare time-outs. I would find myself standing in the kitchen, unable to see my hand in front of my face, or hear someone talking. It was freaking me out, and it stopped the moment I walked out of the joint and put my car in drive, which freaked out everyone else. When I could see, I was forced to read lips. One night at the register, this conversation occurred:

Customer: mmmrphh mrhgnpuu muphhh panpppp mherrrnema.
Tata: I'm sorry, I can't hear you unless I can see your lips.
Tata: Yes.
Customer: Oops.

This came up in conversation with the stepfather, who said, "That's called 'figure ground.' I just read about that in Scientific American." Maybe I should confront Scientific American with my bizarre health issues, because when I arrive at the radiologists' office:

Receptionist: Please fill out this form.
Tata: I can't. I'm here to get my hands x-rayed. They don't work.
Receptionist: Didn't you bring anybody to do it?
Tata: I'm terribly sorry. I left my scribe at home.

(The second time it happened I promised next time I'd bring a helper monkey.)

My little problems never actually get solved, except for that temporary blindness thing which went away by itself but can be re-created a la the History Channel with internal application of an entire bottle of tequila. Anyway, maybe Scientific American has been experimenting with me for a few decades, and just before I blurt out my problems to non-medical science professionals, the mag prints hinty articles. It's like foreshadowing or the 19th of Twenty Questions: Why isn't Scientific American on my doctors' reading lists?

Is the answer "Because suspense is a real knee-slapper"?


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