Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dead Land Journal October 6th 2027

As much of a bitch as Katherine can be at times, we are damn fortunate to have her. Beverly sliced open her arm yesterday on a broken display case while she was getting a fresh set of clothes at a K-Mart. Kathy stitched her up and gave her a tetanus shot. Billy Parsnips (that is what Jewels calls him behind is back, or to his face when he's angry enough) sprained his ankle and she bound it up. Not to mention all the little bumps, bruises and bellyaches we accumulate on the road.

We have visited about twelve hospitals in northern Arkansas since crossing the border and only one of them had what Kathy was looking for. It was a mobile medical imaging center. The big stationary ones inside hospitals would take forever to get going and could not be hooked up to a portable generator. This mobile unit is newer and considerably smaller than the stationary ones and all we had to do was get the big diesel generator going on it. Jewels is a whiz when it comes to diesels and it took him no time at all to get it running. I'd like to think I'm a decent mechanic but I feel like a novice when working with him.

I told Jewels about Kathy's suspicions and he has also agreed to keep this quiet. He and Katherine and I have been out looking for "supplies" the last few days.

The mobile clinic Katherine commandeered is built on a commercial bus chassis, but the mobile imaging center is a tractor trailer rig and its AC is fucking powerful. Jewels says its the same kind used for refrigerator trucks. I can believe it. I about froze my nuts off sitting on that narrow little table in my boxers waiting for Katherine to get ready. Jewels fetched a blanket for me and some earplugs. I think Katherine would have just let me sit there shivering. She has a terrible bedside manner. I guess that's why she's an ER doctor. She doesn't hold hands or coddle her patients.

Even with the earplugs it was loud, but not as bad as I expected. I'm glad Jewels thought of that. Lord knows Katerhine would not have. My head was throbbing by the time I was done. It took forty five minutes. Then it was another half hour before Katherine was ready to show me the pictures. The good news is that she didn't find any tumors. Just what she called optic neuritis. I could feel the weight lifted off me. I felt like celebrating. No Cancer! But of course Katerine could not let that be. She had to tell me that it was still a sign that something was wrong. Could be an infection of some kind or diabetes or possibly Multiple Sclerosis. She said she wanted to do some blood work and started off about some of the tests she wanted to run on me. When she mentioned "Spinal Tap" I put a stop to that. Ain't nobody stickin a damn needle in my spine. Just mentioning it makes me want to run away and hide under my bed. My dad had a spinal tap when I was eight. I can't even remember why. In my entire life I had never heard him cry, but he screamed when they stuck that needle in. Claimed he never could feel anything in his right foot again and his leg hurt like it was set on fire sometimes. The doctor just told him it was all in his head. I gave her permission to do the blood work and make sure that it wasn't diabetes or something contagious, but nothing else.

"But don't you want to know if it's MS or something serious?" she asked. But I tell you the last three days, thinking I had a brain tumor convinced me that if I I do have something life threatening that can't be fixed, I don't want to know about it. I just want to go about my life blissfully ignorant until I drop dead. Better than to spend the rest of your days drowning in despair. I tried to explain that to her, but I don't think she understands. I really don't think any doctor is capable of understanding until they go through the same thing themselves. She wanted to argue about all the advances that had been made in medical science and that multiple sclerosis could be treated much more effectively than it could be even twenty years ago. I remember shouting at her "Fuck medical science! Right now you and a bunch of expiring pills are all that are left of your precious medical science!"

But now I know what she thinks it may be. I don't even really know what Multiple Sclerosis is. Isn't that one of those telethon diseases Jerry Lewis used to go on about every labor day weekend. No, that was Muscular Dystrophy. Or maybe it was both. I don't know. I reflexively want to go to my computer and look it up on the internet. Damn I miss that. I guess I will have to go to a library and look it up. I know I said that I didn't want to know, but I'm entitled to change my mind aren't I? I should at least know what to expect, but I don't want to go crawling back to Katherine just yet.

© 2009 R. Keith McBride

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