For the CT scan, I’m instructed to drink a bottle of viscous glop (the label says “Banana Smoothie”) that suggests camel mucous. Half the night before, half the morning of. There are no ingredients listed, so I call the clinic and ask if there’s any sugar in it (I don’t eat sugar. It’s been over 30 years since my last Mars Bar).
“Nobody ever asked me that,” says the voice on the phone. “Let me ask the technician.”
She returns with a sheet that contains the ingredients, which she reads to me. There are words that sound like a tape rewinding, but none of them is a sugar product. Rat poison, maybe. We’re good.
I show up bright and scowling and do the infernal paperwork. Then I am shepherded into the examination room, where the CT scan tech sits me down while she frowns over my records. She asks me why she is doing this procedure.
Huh? I explain that I left the prescription at the front desk, but basically it was because my doctor ordered it. I know that, she says impatiently (pun), but I want to know why I am doing it? This confuses the fuck out of me. I don’t know, I say, This is the room I was led into, and you’re standing in it. Isn’t it your job? Is there somebody else this morning that was supposed to handle this maybe?
Offstage Greek chorus: Good start, Squathole. Way to go. That bitch can hurt you bad, you know.
It turns out she means, “What specialist ordered this and what diagnosis do you have that prompted the need for this exam?” Why the fuck she didn’t just say this? The hell kind of question is, “Why am I doing this?” What, I wandered into the breakfast meeting of the Existentialist Society? Is her next question, Why am I here? Or, Why is there air? And of course, this shakes me up — if the fucking technician doesn’t know why she’s doing it, what makes me suppose she knows what the fuck she’s doing?
Next she asks me if I’m allergic to any medication. With that chorus glaring at me offstage, I stop myself from offering to fetch the 10-page form I just completed which has the same damn question so she can save us both some time, and just say, “Not that I know of.” Then she asks me if I can eat shellfish. I tell her No, I couldn’t even drink coffee this morning — had to consume nothing for 3 hours before the exam but her banana flavored camel snot.
“I don’t mean that,” she says. “I mean are you ABLE to eat shellfish.” The fuck? “I TOLD you,” I say. “I’m not able to eat ANYTHING. That’s what FASTING means. Those were my instructions. No food or drink three hours before.” I’m ready to flee at this point. This person is a stark raving imbecile, and she has clamps and needles.
But no, it turns out she wants to know if I’m allergic to iodine, which is found in high concentrations in shellfish. Here we go again. If she wants to know if I’m allergic to iodine, why the Christ doesn’t she just fucking ask “Are you allergic to iodine?” What is wrong with her? It’s like communicating with tongue click language people..
And why does she even care if I’m allergic to iodine? Because she plans to inject some into me for the test. At which point, chorus or no, I lose it. This is the first time anybody involved in the process says anything about injecting iodine. I knew all about the fasting, the banana mucous, and showing up early for the paperwork. Nobody said shit about injecting iodine — and I’d already scheduled the test later in the day when they’re going to shoot radioactive crap into me for the bone scan. How many injections of toxic substances in one day before I grow horns or bleed from my ears and eyeballs? I never would have scheduled both just hours apart had I known, or, had I the opportunity to research the matter.
She assures me there’s no danger, but I’m not having this. I’m not a goddam Petri dish, and I don’t like pop quizzes or surprises on the exam table. Which is what I tell the technician. So we do it without it.
This isn’t my first go-around with the medical professional act. They like to talk in code and jargon, and don’t tell me what I want to know, which is: everything. No sudden change in plans. Nobody even takes my temperature if I don’t know it’s part of the process, fully explained in advance, and nothing happens unless I approve. I’m the patient. Me, Jack Dogshit. We do it my way, and my way is 100% transparency.
It’s not like I’m sprawled there bleeding to death or having a stroke (yet).
Now we wait for the results. I predict they’ll find nothing but acrid bile. Of course, that’s kinda evident even without looking inside.