In my clinic, there is a brief ceremony we perform each Spring. We gather in the treatment room to say a fond farewell to
the last box of Christmas candy. The cookies, cakes and tins of popcorn usually run out by the end of January. But during
February and March, we still open candy at the rate of two or three boxes a week.
Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. So, last week we gathered for the annual event and opened the last box.
Now, you may be thinking that it would make more sense to hold the event as the last pieces were eaten instead of when the
box was first opened. Actually, it doesn't matter, as those two events are nearly simultaneous.
At any rate, each year we say our sad goodbyes to the last box about the same time that we say even sadder hellos to our friends
at the Internal Revenue Service. It was during our discussion of this unhappy coincidence that we were rudely yanked back
to reality by Alexander Graham Bell's evil invention.
It seemed that Mr. O'Drama needed to talk to me.
"Hello, Doctor. This is Mel O'Drama," he announced. "Do you remember me? I was in yesterday with my dog, Puddin. I don't know
what to do. He has had diarrhea for almost six months now. Those pills you gave me aren't helping, and he's been taking them
almost 24 hours. He's due to get the second one soon, and they haven't made it one bit better. In fact, I think it's worse!"
Of course, I had not seen the pooch since 1998, and the diarrhea had gone untreated until the office visit the day before,
a visit that was, quite predictably, initiated due to the purchase of new carpeting at the O'Drama house.
I sensed this was going to turn out to be quite a dog-and-pony show.
Shortly after Mel's prelude, he stormed in without an appointment, since he considered the situation an "emergency."
Obviously annoyed by the five-minute delay before he could be seen, he paced impatiently around the waiting room, wailing
and moaning about his dog's problem. The diarrhea came from Puddin, but Mel O'Drama was acting like the anus (politically
As you may have guessed, he refused any diagnostic tests I recommended and felt that my suggestions for diet change were "absurd."
"I can't change his diet, Doctor," he pointed out. "Not when I just spent all that money on a 50-pound bag of Bargain Bits.
What am I going to do? My new rugs were very expensive. I don't have any money left to waste on new food or expensive tests.
Has anyone else ever had a problem like this? Can't you help me with some inexpensive pills or something? Puddin is going
to stain the carpet."
The pooch may have dropped some poop on the floor, but it was Mr. O'Drama who was laying it on thick.
Eventually, I did the only thing he would let me do. That was prescribe a two-week course of "Plug-it-up" tablets. He took
his dog and went home. (Exit, stage left.)
Now, one day later, he was on the telephone for the second act.