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That Mystical, Magickal, Marvelous Miracle of Modern Medicine

Okay, for those of you who were waiting for "Equal Work for Equal Pay, Part II," you're just going to have to wait one more day. 'Cuz ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, I is pissed.

Today was one of them, "boy-fuckin'-howdy" kind of days and you get to hear me explode.

In case anyone here was unaware of the fact, I am married to this fabulous, wonderful, incredibly talented lady who just so happens to be plagued with not only Tourrette's Syndrome but a severe panic disorder as well. (Oh yeah, she also sees things, but not as much as she used to and not nearly as bad.) Well, there's one other little goodie hiding in the back of the D.N.A. closet. It's called S.A.D.S. If you've never heard of it, you're in the company of every single fucking physician in the Good old informed State of Washington that we have seen, heard, or smelled. It stands for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. Yup, you've got it now. It's an adult version of S.I.D.S. The only way to detect whether you have this particular disorder is through what is known as a Cardiovascular Stress Electroencepholograph. In layman's terms, they put you on a treadmill, get you sweating, and watch your heart function away! We have been asking doctor's to perfom such a test for over two years now to no avail. We tell them about S.A.D.S. and they just look at us as if we were cigar smokers in a health food store.

Now, as anyone familiar with panic disorders can tell you, a panic attack is your body getting ready to die. With a panic disorder, when you hear the car make an unfamiliar noise at sixty-five miles per hour on the freeway, you become UTTERLY CONVINCED that within the next few seconds the axle will come flying off, the car will nosedive, flip seventeen times, land on the roof, and smash your liddle noodle into pureed cauliflower with a generous helping of tobasco.

Now, to add insult to injury, my princess also has developed another fairly common problem. Upon occasion, when she lies down to go to sleep, her chest contracts, her heart races, and she ends up waking herself immediately with a loud gasp. To her, this feels exactly like a panic attack, but more severe. With S.A.D.S. climbing around in the family tree, this condition causes her anxiety to shoot through the roof. She becomes convinced that she is going to die.

She hasn't slept in two days now. She took herself to the clinic this morning, where she was told--no, let me correct that; strongly advised--to check herself into the hospital for further mental health examinations. At the very least, they could perfom whatever tests needed to get a handle on this condition.

Dutifully, we followed their advice. We were fools.

Now, let me say this again, when this particular sleep disorder crops up, my princess becomes convinced that it is going to kill her. She knows I can't stay awake if I have to be at work the next morning, and she's certain that she'll nod off, her heart will start its raucaus party, her chest will contract, and that, as they say, will be that. She tells this to the social worker in the emergency room. She tells this to the Doctor. She tells this to the admitting nurse. She tells this to the janitor. And then the nurse says, "Well, we can't check you in for this."

Is anyone out there familiar with a Tourrette's rage?

The doctor finally tells her that this is actually a common condition. He tells her it can't hurt her. He tells her she most certainly won't "suddenly die," from it. So far, so good. My princess is beginning to calm down. In fact, he starts to make sense. He explains that with her anxiety disorder, it must be so much worse. Where the average person might have such an episode and then, a few minutes later, wipe thier brow and go back to sleep, she becomes certain that it will kill her.

Just to be sure, he wants to run some tests. You know, listen to her heart, take some blood, etcetera.

Being a dutiful partner is my princess' health and well being, I point out that her blood sugar level might be a little low. She's been on the Atkins diet for the last six weeks.

(The Atkins diet is a low carbohydrate diet which is not calorie restrictive. While it is true that this diet has had a bad reputation over the years--doctors just can't seem to understand how a diet which allows a high percentage of fat content can work--but recent studies have proven not only its safety, but its effectiveness as well. Said studies have appeared in no less prestigous venues as The New England Journal of Medicine. Studies sponsored by the diets toughest opponents have indicated that it is more successful than a standard reduced-fat and calorie diet, but that the cholesterol level actually reduced farther on Atkins. Scientists do not like things they can not explain. They don't want to tell people that after years of promoting breads and cereals and limiting the fat content of their diet that what they actually did was push them into a higher carbohydrate intake level and an even unhealthier lifestyle.)

So the doctor says to us, "I'll bet you that her blood sugar level isn't lower. Atkins have very little effect on blood sugar levels in the average person."

Interested, I said, "Really?" How in the fuck could a diet almost identical to that prescribed to diabetics for years not affect blood sugar levels?

"Besides," he says flippantly, "look what it did to Atkins."

Now, friends and neighbors, I don't know about you, but that pissed me off something fierce. Dr. Atkins recently died. From a fall. It's public record. But here is our beloved physician, Mr. Bedside manners himself, telling a patient who was convinced that she was going to die not ten minutes ago that the diet she is on was responsible for the death of it's creator.

"He died in a fall," I say.

"That's what they want you to believe," he says.

Yes, further proof that when knowledge and experience become dogma, no one is safe from the throes of ignorance.

You know, I've lost twenty-five pounds in six weeks. My princess, at least twenty. We feel better than we have in years.

Before I could open my mouth, my princess said, "IF ONE MORE PERSON FUCKS WITH ME, I'M GOING TO FUCKING LEAVE!"

The doctor hmmm's and haaa's an apoligy, something to the effect of "Nobody's trying to do that," smirks, and leaves.

So, in the end, they don't hospitalize her, give her an EKG--which we told them she's had before and which doesn't detect S.A.D.S.--and send her off with a prescription for medication which we specifically told them A: Didn't work; and B: caused my princess to gain eighty pounds in four months. How's that for responsible health care?

For your knowledge, the hospital was Overlake. The truth is the best defense against slander and libel.
Go there at your own peril.

And by all means, keep poppin' your pills.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of The Abyss.

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