Communion Of Dreams


Learning the Cost, Part II

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been very busy getting ready for our trip to Patagonia, including some long hours to wrap up work for clients before I leave.

But I took some time out for a follow-up visit to my doctor.  A good thing that I did.

* * * * * * *

As I sat waiting in the exam room for my doctor to come in, I looked around.  All the usual stuff.  But high up on top of a cabinet, only barely visible from where I sat on the exam table, was a wooden box.  Some light-colored wood, perhaps pine or a light oak.  It was a bit battered, but in decent shape, about the size of loaf of bread.  Not one of those long loafs of sandwich bread – a short loaf, of something like rye or pumpernickel.

One the end of the box bore a large seal, the sort of thing which was popular in the late 19th century.  Big outer ring, inner motif of a six-pointed star, cross-hatched on half of each star arm to indicate motion or something.  Center of the star had three initials: JBL.  Around the ring was more information: “TYRELLS HYGIENIC INST.  NEW YORK CITY U.S.A.  PATENT JANUARY, 1894 AUGUST, 1897 JUNE 1903.” Outside the ring, one in each upper corner, and one below in the center were three words: “JOY.  BEAUTY.  LIFE.”

You can get some idea of what this looked like from this image.  So far, I have been unable to find an image online of the box I saw.

* * * * * * *

I’d gone in first part of the week to have blood drawn, for tests my doctor wanted to run.  I still have the bruise where the aide who drew the blood went a bit too deep and punctured the back of my vein.

My doctor looked over the lab results, looked up at me.  “Not too bad.  LDL is a bit high, so is your HDL, which helps. Fasting blood sugar also a bit high, but not bad.  I think we should give both of those a chance to settle out some more, as you continue to get diet and exercise back completely under your control.  The rest all looks pretty good – liver & kidney function, et cetera.  Nothing to be too worried about.”

She handed over the sheaf of papers to me.  “But I want to do something more about your blood pressure.  It is still dangerously high, though you seem to have made some real progress with the beta blocker.”

Yeah, I had – I’d been testing it.  And it was down 50 points systolic, 20 points diastolic.  About halfway to where it should be.

“Would you be willing to try something else?  Another drug?”

Echo of the first conversation we had on the topic.  “What did you have in mind?”

Calcium channel blocker,” she said.  “We could still increase the dosage of the beta blocker you’re taking, because you’re on the low end of that.  But I would like to see how your system responds to this additional drug, also at a minimal dosage.  Then we can tweak dosage levels, if we need to.”

Another good call.  “Sure, let’s try it.”

* * * * * * *

My doctor returned with my prescriptions.  “Do you have any other questions?”

I pointed at the box up on top of the cabinet.  “What’s the story behind that?”

Caught off-guard, she looked at the box, confused.

“I mean, what was in there?  Is there a particular reason you have it?”

“No, not really.  Nothing’s in there.  I just came across it at an antique shop some years ago.”  She looked at me.  “Why?”

“There was an author in the 60s & 70s who wrote a lot of stuff I like.  Philip K. Dick.  He had a lot of health issues, and I can imagine him sitting in a room not unlike this one, looking at some variation of a box like that.”  I got down off the exam table.  “One of his most important books was made into the movie Blade Runner in the early 1980s.  In that movie one of the major characters goes by the name Tyrell, and he has a connection to . . . um, the medical industry.  I just thought it an interesting coincidence.”

“Oh.”  She was completely lost.  I’ve worked with doctors enough to know that they do not like this feeling.  “Well, we’ll see you after your trip, check out how the new meds are working, OK?”

“Sure.”

Jim Downey


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