Category Archives: Medical

Airlifted To Payment

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In the last few days, another accident near Springdale started the same conversation about needing a Level 1 Trauma center here in Walmetro. (It’s a reasonable nickname for this area, don’t you agree?) I enjoyed reading the teeth-gnashing commentary on social media news sites. I’m pretty sure that about half the locals misspelled the word “trauma.” I’m not a big freak about spelling like some of my other weirdo friends, but it is worth noting that someone needs to tell everyone that the ED isn’t for erectile dysfunction. (Unless you have taken 16 tablets of Viagra mistakenly. Or on purpose, too, I guess.)

I don’t want to be airlifted anywhere. If I am airlifted against my will, the paramedics should use me as a human bomb. I’ll allow you to drop me onto any local Walmart, where low, low prices won’t be stymied by a falling corpse. (May commerce live forever.) Just leave the door open as you fly over and give me a directional push: no one will know. I’ll just drop in. If the paramedics can drop me through one of the roof skylights, they should get extra points for effort.

A couple of times when I was young, I survived, even on the occasion I might have been technically dead for a bit. During that episode of “Frighten Grandma,” I lived in the middle of nowhere in Monroe County and the only reason I’m here is that some milk or ice cream truck miraculously went by.

The other time, I lived here in Northwest Arkansas, back when no roads came here on purpose and the word ER meant that everyone hoped someone was on duty (and sober) if he or she accidentally shot their own face off. I came out of that one with 160+ stitches. I’m not even sure anyone in NWA knew what a helicopter was back in those days unless they were James Bond fans or Vietnam draftees.

Historical fact: until the 1970s there were literally no roads to get to Springdale. They didn’t want us getting in or out. True story. *True-ish. Okay, it’s totally false, but we’re living in a post-truth period.

Since then, the medical community here has developed to such an extent that it’s difficult to imagine the necessity of being airlifted anywhere. Whether we have a Level 1 Trauma center is immaterial to me. As long as the billing department is operational, I’m sure I’ll get all the required attention I need.

Another fact: if you experience trauma, they always cut your pants off first. It’s not to give you better medical care, as you probably learned on episode 12,367 of Grey’s Anatomy; rather, it’s so that they get to your wallet first.

Let’s be honest about this anyway: it’s likely that if the medical crew discovers it’s me needing assistance, they’re likely to play a round of golf before getting around to transport me. Ever since the infamous incident wherein I recreated the Alien stomach-burst, the paramedics put me on ‘the list.’ (I think they aren’t sci-fi fans.)

I’ll take my chances, especially now that I’ve lived over half a century.

If I am to die, I’ll take a slight risk with the local medical talent here. I don’t want to be in some miserable hospital away from home, imposing a burden on the few people crazy enough to be interested in my early demise. (Not hasten it, I might add, even if they seem to be in a betting mood.) Having spent a lot of time in hospitals, it is important that you understand that they are misery factories for family and friends. The burden and expense of being away from home is completely objectionable to me.

Before you ask, yes, that means I’m willing to roll the dice with my life a little bit if it means that the locals get a stab, so to speak, at me first. Driving through Johnson is a risk and I’ve mostly survived that.

Keep this in mind if something unexpected happens to me. Keep the helicopter for someone else. Feel free to drive me 140 mph down the interstate if you wish, jumping hell and high holler. Everyone needs a little practice driving the ambulance, so let the new guy Jimmy give it a try if you pick me up. An escort by Roscoe P. Coltrane might be nice, too.

While this might have made you chuckle, I’m writing in all seriousness.

Death is no laughing matter unless you’ve made plans to be buried in a jack-in-the-box coffin. I recommend that everyone at least ask their preferred mortuary if they offer such a thing. If only for the laughs.

We have world-class medical facilities here. Don’t fly me anywhere, unless I’m already gone and someone needs my liver – or he/she answers to the name Hannibal Lecter.

Who Says A Doctor Visit Can’t Be Fun?

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This story is true. All of us involved laughed at least 25 times during my visit. I’m beginning to question their sanity.

I was seated in a nondescript patient room, amusing myself with wordplay and possible shenanigans. I vainly tried to make the interactive patient information display do something unexpected, such as indicating “Stop Touching Me.” I remembered to add something to my to-do list: bring a few crazy magazine titles on my next visit and exchange them with the normal magazines on the wall racks. I pulled this prank a few times when I was younger and it never failed to bring the expected confusion and hilarity. The interactive computer confirmed that I needed to lose more weight and recommended a haircut, preferably one starting with my back hair. Computers these days are increasingly impertinent, a trend which I enjoy.

My doctor asked me to come back in after 3 months, allegedly to determine if the blood pressure medication worked well enough to suit him. Being a doctor, though, meant that any condition not generally characterized as “still not dead” was an acceptable one to him. In my opinion, though, my visit was probably due to his suspicion that I had resumed eating for two people. No, I’m not currently pregnant, despite the rumors being broadcast by the waistline of my pants. I simply tend to eat for more than one person – not to be confused with a cannibal, who would tend to eat more than one person.

Because I arrived early, I could hear the goings-on of the doctor’s office as staff bantered, medical reps bartered their wares, and patients attempted to conceal the horror presented by the specter of a medical office. For most patients, a medical office is indeed a Pandora’s box, one filled with a hypochondriac’s WebMD web search. From outside, I heard the medical assistant say my name. “X” sounds like a curse when spoken in a normal tone of voice. Once people get to know me, they also tend to add an inexplicable “hissss” sound after my name, something that renders me slightly suspicious. I had already entertained her by claiming that the Med Rep in the inner sanctum of the back offices had given me free medical marijuana samples while in the lobby and that imbibing this sample resulted in the very low blood pressure reading she had elicited from me.

Assuming that the doctor would be on the cusp of opening the door, I placed my purple cellphone screen side down on the exam sink counter. I then quickly stepped behind the door, jamming myself in the corner as tightly as possible.

I felt the door open more than halfway. I held my breath.

I knew that on the other side of the door that Dr. Brown was scanning the length of the room, probably noticing my purple cellphone while doing so, and wondering where I went.

“Did the patient escape?” the doctor asked the two medical staffers seated nearby at the administration counter.

As he asked this, I quietly stepped out and away from behind the door, directly behind him, in plain sight of the two staffers, both of whom were looking at the doctor as he turned to face them and inquire as to my whereabouts.

Because decorum demanded it, I made a terrible, crazy face. Both staffers burst out laughing. The doctor sensed something behind him and half-turned, freezing as he saw me in his peripheral vision.

He shook his head and also burst into laughter.

Once we all stopped laughing, he told me, “No one has ever hidden behind the door from me like that, X. Well played. Well played.”

P.S. I don’t know what the billing code for playing “Hide-And-Seek” at the doctor’s office might be.