Burying the Lead

January 9, 2007 at 1:12 pm (Uncategorized)

My friend Eric, who is a first-class journalist and buddy, used to accuse me of burying the lead in our conversations. He’d give me a call from Hong Kong or Singapore or L.A. or from across town, and we’d chat for a while about anything and everything — politics, weather, our respective love lives — before I’d tell him my big news, like falling in love, or getting engaged, or becoming pregnant. “Stop burying the lead,” he’d tell me, chastising me for a sloppy journalistic practice in which the most important part of a story is lost in a sea of lesser earlier details. After reading my latest blog entry, I’ve gotten more than a few phone calls and e-mails accusing me of once again burying the lead. “All that talk about vomit, and then you just drop that you had to go to the emergency room at the end.”

Yes – I did bury the lead. Because really, there’s just not that much to say about a trip to the emergency room, in which the physicians confirm that 1.) you feel really crappy; 2.) you have a really crappy disease that affects significant portions of your body; and 3.) there’s not much they can do except either a.) run countless expensive tests to rule out other diseases and conditions and prove that you simply have said crappy disease; and/or b.) give you a shot or two of potent pain medicine and send you on your way with a sad shake of their doctorly heads and referrals to other doctors who specialize in the organs of your body affected by the crappy disease who will i.) run additional expensive tests to rule out even more exotic and rare conditions; ii.) confirm you have a crappy disease and iii.) shake their doctorly heads and send you on your way without even a shot of a potent pain medicine.  That was my ER visit last Friday. Tomorrow I need to undergo phase two of the process and drive to Billings at the crack of dawn to see both a gastroenterologist about my spleen and a rheumatologist about my painful joints.

My time in the emergency room wasn’t useless, though, because it did lead me to ponder several important issues. The first involves the pain medicine that they injected directly into my veins. I forget what it was called — only that it was some synthetic form of morphine. Not only did it take away my pain, but it also made me feel immensely better about the state of the universe and my place in it. Immensely better. This makes me wonder why they don’t just give synthetic morphine to all the depressed sufferers of chronic illness. It would take the edge off things on a daily basis, as well as providing a significant head rush.

I also spent some time, after the whopping shot of narcotics loosened the stranglehold of pain in my guts and nicely blurred the hard lines of reality, about the aesthetics — or complete lack thereof — of the medical care I receive, as compared to what I’ve witnessed elsewhere. I’m no stranger to the medical drama on network television. I used to watch ER before it somehow degenerated into a form lower than a soap opera, beneath even Melrose Place in the annals of bad television; I’ve caught a couple episodes of Grey’s Anatomy; and, if you’re a stalwart reader of Chronic Town, you’ll remember that I’m a big fan of House because it dwells on obscure illnesses, frequently mentions sarcoidosis, and can easily serve as a forum for a drinking game in our house. Here’s the thing: my doctors, with the exception of a disturbingly beautiful and nice neurologist I saw in Denver a couple of years ago, look nothing like the hotties on TV. My own version of ER on Friday was populated by folks who weren’t hideous to behold, but certainly weren’t up to the snuff of the the surf-boy charm of Dr. Chase or the fresh-faced and beguiling allure of the almost adolescent-appearing Dr. Cameron, or even the scruffy, but nevertheless Byronic, appeal of the eponymous Dr. House on House. It became perfectly clear to me, as the pain medication surged through my veins just as surely as Dr.Chase must slide through the tropical waters in his native Australia, that what I — and American medicine in general — need(s) is affirmative action for the beautiful. Enough of these ugly smart people, like my gnome of a former cardiologist in Denver. Give me some eye candy! Now! Along with another shot of the good stuff!

I’m sure that astute readers will notice that I’m doing an awful lot digressing, and that perhaps my descent into pop culture isn’t actually a clever literary device meant to mirror the decline of ER, but is instead just another way of burying the lead. Maybe. I’m nervous about see the doctors tomorrow, especially since my internist here told me that, “as a worst case scenario, you’d lose your spleen” if the inflammation continues to worsen. Lose my spleen?  No wonder I’m focusing on the golden locks of the imaginary Dr. Chase and not the cold face of life as it really is.  Plus, with my gall bladder having been taken out last March, I’m running out of non-essential organs.

I don’t mean to bury the lead. It just sort of happens. Perhaps it’s part of coping with life in chronic town. Think first of something silly before brooding about losing an organ. That’s a good motto. Of course, if I lost an organ, they’d probably give me several shots of that synthetic morphine. And then everyone would look a little more like Dr. Chase.


  1. Lori said,

    Hey, I happen to disagree. I thought Barf Boy was great and sent
    it to some other moms in the office. Frankly, it was more of “you”
    coming through. Lori

  2. Morfeen said,

    Ummm, well don’t you get sick (ha ha) of just having to talk about illness when someone asks you what is going on in your life?
    Thank god you have a husband and kid! At least you get “mommy talk.”
    I keep threatening to just create a dissociative alternative personality who has a great life, that way I’ll have something else to talk about you. This other personality will be having torrid affairs, selling state secrets, and competing in non-yet-recognized Olympic events. She’ll never get so much as a common cold or foot fungus. She also has a line of couture clothing, she’s in a band, and she’s involved in celebrity feuds with other imaginary people. Her name is Violet.
    “So, what’s been happeneing with you?”
    “Well, do you want to hear about me, or about Violet?”

  3. Morfeen said,

    Oh yeah and that was funny, I laughed my ass off.
    Please call me babe, we so totally need to talk!

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