Adventures in Alternative Medicine


    I gave up on the medical industry after I had the flu for nine months straight and I couldn't find anyone who could figure out why. When the symptoms returned a few months later, I was determined to just die quietly, without bothering to seek out any help at all. After a few more weeks of illness, though, I realized that the angel of death was letting me down. It was time to seek out medical help again.

    The closest doctor I could find was a guy who had an office a short walk from my home.
I figured that if he ever said "You aren't driving home after I've shot you up with pain killers, are you?" I could say "no," and then triumphantly crawl back to my house.

    There I was, sick during a horrible flu epidemic, when the newscasters kept saying that all the doctors were turning away patients because there were overwhelmed. When I went to this guy's office, though, I was the only person in the waiting room. There was bad Mexican tourist art hanging on every wall and the place was really dirty. I wondered for a moment whether or not I was in the correct building.

    Then, a nurse led me to a little examining room and instructed me to wait for the doctor. While I was sitting there, I noticed that the linoleum was crusty, the cabinets were falling apart, and there was a used syringe on the floor. I saw pills scattered in every direction. It looked as if some kind of struggle had taken place. When I picked up a magazine to kill some time, an assortment of pills rolled off of it and onto the floor. I imagined that it was the kind of room where heroin addicts would go to shoot up.

    After a couple of minutes, the doctor entered the room. He spoke in a thick Mexican accent that I could barely understand. I have to say that I don't have anything against any ethnic group. In fact, I really enjoy immersing myself in the arts and culture of different kinds of people. Still, as a sick person, I really wanted to talk to someone who actually understood what I was saying.

    The doctor and I struggled to hold a conversation and then he began pressing on my face with his thumb to see whether or not I had any sinus congestion. His hands stank of raw onions and I found myself wishing that I were more congested so I wouldn't have to deal with the smell. He gave me a prescription and sent me on my way.

    A few weeks went by and I was still sick. I figured it would be easier to see the same doctor than to have to explain it all to someone new. This time, the nurse walked me into the examining room and sat me down next to a rack of test tubes that were full of urine samples. Again, the doctor and I struggled to get through a conversation and I was sent home with yet another prescription.

    The meds ran out a week later and I was still sick. At that point, I was frustrated with the quacks in the medical establishment and I decided that it was time to do business with the quacks in the New Age establishment instead.

    A friend of mine told me that her friend, Rick, was an expert at herbal medicine. Rick owned a health food store in a run down little town, where every third store was either a junk shop or a Dollar Store.

    Rick's place fit in pretty well with the neighborhood. It was poorly lit (probably in an attempt to conceal the dusty merchandise and the grimy floors). A few rickety rows of shelves leaned precariously under the weight of over-priced health products. Several 70s era televisions blared from the back of the store, above a rack of sagging, yellow magazines.

    I looked around at the over-priced New Age products and realized that I had made a mistake. I decided that I would pretend to look around the store for a few minutes and then quietly slip out the door.

    Rick was standing in a corner talking to an elderly woman. She was proudly telling him that she had a boyfriend. I could tell that she had rehearsed this conversation. She was expecting Rick to say, "I think that's great!!! You are only as young as you feel!" Instead, Rick said, "You have a boyfriend? Well... I guess that's okay."

    Rick was a man in his late 40s. He looked wrinkled, bloated, and tired. He had a massively distended belly that he attempted to cover with a huge pair of blue stretch pants. For a "healthcare expert," this guy didn't look very healthy.

    I tried to sneak out of the store without being noticed but Rick saw me leaving and stepped in front of me. Confronted, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to at least ask for help.

Rick: Can I help you?

Me: Yes, I have been sick for almost four months now and a friend of mine said I should ask you for advice...

Rick: You have a liver problem.

Me: A liver problem? Actually, I just had $2,000 worth of blood work done and the results indicated that my liver is in perfect condition.

Rick (Taking a few steps back from me and closing his eyes): You are suffering from two betrayals (I wasn't), and a person who you are romantically involved with has hurt you in some way recently (She hadn't). You are suffering from frustrations in your job too (I wasn't. I loved my job).

Me: Um, are you sure?

Rick: Your lover has hurt you in some way. That is why you have circles under your eyes (Actually, I had circles under my eyes because I suffer from allergies).

Me: Hmmm....

Rick: You have long fingernails.

Me: Yes, I play a number of string instruments and I need long fingernails to play them.

Rick: Your hair is thinning because you are disappointed in the music industry (I wasn't. Actually, I was always shocked at how well my music was selling and at how much airplay I got, even though I refused to play "normal " music).

Me: That sounds...interesting...

Rick (Grabbing my hand and digging his thumbnail deeply into my palm): Does that hurt?

Me (Recoiling in pain): YES!!!!

Rick: See! You have liver problems. I can sell you this bottle of water for $30.00 to treat it.

Me: What's in it?

Rick: One part collodial silver to ten million parts water (In other words, it was a bottle of tap water). I make it right here in the store.

    I looked around the cluttered, dirty store and wondered whether or not there was anything there that would measure colloidal silver to the ten millionth part. Still, Rick was looking at me, waiting for an answer.

Me: Um, I'll get back to you on that...

Rick: What color are your eyes?

Me: Green.

Rick: No they aren't There is no such thing as green eyes. Your eyes are blue. In fact, you have blue eyes and those circles under your eyes because you drink so much milk.

Me: I don't drink milk. At all.

Rick: Then you eat a lot of cheese.

Me: Well, maybe a little...

Rick (Folding his arms and nodding in satisfaction): Yep, a typical cheese eater...

Me (Attempting to flee the store): Well, I have to run. Thanks for your time!

Rick: Here, have a toothpick.

Me: No thanks. I have to go.

Rick (Shoving a toothpick at me): Take one!!!

Me (Fleeing the store): Thanks. I really have to run...

    A couple more weeks went by and I was still sick. This time I looked around for a doctor and found that everyone on my insurance list was unavailable... except for my third-world doctor with the dirty office. At this point, I was referring to him as "Doctor Muerto" because he was obviously a dangerous man.

    I got to sit in the room with the urine samples again. I noticed that there were a bunch of tiny stuffed animals (the kind you would give to infants) stacked against a biohazard container (the kind you use to dispose of dangerous medical waste). It would have been easy for something to splash from the biohazard container onto the stuffed animals. I looked, and the animals were all matted and wet. I decided that I should probably turn this guy in to the Health Department before he killed someone. The Doctor came into the room and put a stethoscope on my back. He said "Breathe for me". I started to breathe heavily so he could hear whether or not my lungs were congested. While I was doing this, he shook his head and corrected me. He said "In-and-out" as if I wasn'' breathing properly. I thought I was breathing in and out. Was I breathing side-to-side, or up-and-down?

    The doctor gave me yet another prescription for antibiotics and sent me on my way. I had been given antibiotics for months at a time and it never had any effect on my symptoms. I took these new meds exactly as prescribed and there was no change whatsoever in my health. It was time to go home and wait for the angel of death again.


2004 - Zozo