Friday, May 11, 2012

Level-headed

Dr. Fieldhouse and I
Although it hadn’t been long enough for the backs of my bare sweaty legs to stick to the green Naugahyde upholstery, those ten minutes spent sitting on the lime green benches that lined the pale yellow corridors of the Toshiba Hospital felt like an eternity. I couldn't understand why I wasn't being rushed to a physician's operating table posthaste. Could they not see I was a special case? When the nurse finally called my name, I clutched my chest tightly and carefully moved my fragile body to examination room one where the doctor was waiting to see me. 


The minute I laid eyes on the elderly gentleman in the white lab coat sitting behind the gray metal desk I managed to utter in a trembling whisper, “Doctor, I think I’m having a heart attack. I have a really terrible pain in my chest.” Realizing there was no time to waste, he went right to work, checking my pulse, listening to my heart, etc. I had come to the right place. 


He then preceded to ask a series of pertinent questions. First off was "How long have you been experiencing these symptoms." When I told him three months, he let out a huge guffaw which I thought was pretty uncaring considering I was experiencing perhaps the longest duration of cardiac arrest in the history of medicine. The insensitivity echoed throughout the hallway. 


After stifling his last chuckle, he asked why I hadn’t come in earlier. When I told him that I had trouble finding the place, he nodded his head up and down sympathetically. Behind that snickering Mr. Hide lurked a Dr. Jekyll after all. He went on to assure me that I probably wasn’t having a heart attack but ordered up a double EKG and an MRI (which didn’t result in a cardiac at the cashier counter either, as I feared, since most of the bill was picked up by Japan's national health care system). 


Both the EKG and MRI came back all clear but I continued to return to the internal medicine department of Toshiba Hospital at least once a week for the next three months in an attempt to get at the root of my ailment. I think I met with every specialist in the building and everyone of them had come up empty until I encountered the one they call Dr. Fieldhouse (well I just call him Fieldhouse, his name is really Kurata), the chief internist on the internal medicine ward. He took one look at me and set me straight right away without having to reach for his stethoscope or anything. 


Staring me directly in the eye he says, “I can see what your problem is right away. It’s poor posture. Your head is leaning to the left. Try keeping it up and see if that doesn’t work.” That was it, examination over. The nurse showed me out, pointing the way to the cashier’s counter and I walked the length of the building's verdant valleys shaking my head in total disbelief. 


“Keep my head up!” What quackery!!! There was no way he could have been on the up and up. Still on the outside chance that he was on the level I gave it a try. Over the next week I walked around with my head tilted to the right and I felt like a complete idiot the entire time. I had been hoodwinked by the Japanese medical establishment and I was fuming mad about it. In fact I was so consumed with anger over the fact that I had been duped by this quack I totally forgot about the pain in my chest. That’s when I realized the pain wasn’t in my chest at all. Fieldhouse was right, it was really all in my head. 




Frames of Reference 




It can be difficult to keep your head on straight and that’s why I developed these glasses with a built-in level device that help you keep a level head.




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