Note: The names of the persons directly involved in the following account have been changed to protect their right to privacy, as guaranteed (okay, maybe not “guaranteed,” but “implied”) under the Medical Privacy Act of 1923, as first instituted quid pro quo somewhere in Liechtenstein; amended in 1927, somewhere in the Nether Parts; and later modified (see attached pamplet explaining “said” modifications) somewhere over the rainbow.
Nurse Whatsthebigfuss knocked gently on Dr. Phuphuey’s door and poked her head inside. Dr. Phuphuey was doubled forward in his chair, head toward his feet. She heard him gleefully say, “and this little piggy cried wee wee all the way home.”
“Ahem,” she said, “sorry to interrupt you, Dr. Phuphuey.”
Dr. Phuphuey straightened and spun around in his chair. He was holding nail clippers. “It’s all good,” he said, as he flopped his right leg onto the desk, “I was just giving these little pigglies a little tune up.” With that, he then wiggled his toes as though saying “What can I do you for?”
“A raise would be nice,” said Nurse Whatsthebigfuss.
“No can dooo,” replied his wiggly toes. “Perhaps when the world is back to normal. Now, seriously.”
“I Just wanted to give you a little headsup about your next patient. It’s Mrs. Verydistraught–she’s quite upset. She’s a retired nurse. I think she’s going to require a longer visit.”
“Well, I trust your judgement,” Nurse Whatsthebigfuss. “Send her in.”
Two minutes later, Mrs. Verydistraught was seated in the chair across from Dr. Phuphuey. What he could see of her face looked flushed; her hair a mess. “Please take your mask off,” said Dr. Phuphuey.”
“But won’t you get in trouble with the medical board?” she said, as she raised a hand to do so. “I’ve heard of doctors who disagree with what’s going on being threatened with losing their licence.”
“Fufuey, the rules,” exclaimed Dr. Phuphuey. “It might matter if I was a real doctor, but I’m not. I’m just a figment of some writer’s imagination, so I can say what I want. So, my office, my rules.”
Mrs. Verydistraught set the mask in her lap and nervously brushed her hair with her hand. “I’ve been so upset lately,” she said. “I feel like I’m at the end of my rope.”
“Cigarette?” asked Dr. Phuphuey, extending the pack.
“No, but, thank you.”
Dr. Phuphuey lit his cigarette, drew deeply, and then opened the drawer to his right. Licorice?”
“No, thank you, though.”
A moment later: “Jelly beans?”
“Uh uh, but thanks.”
From the left drawer: “Jub jubs?”
A scowl–barely contained–was hinting to boil over on Mrs. Verydistraught’s face. “No…thank you.”
“Lollipop? Gummy Bears? Chocolate bar?”
“Can I just tell you my f#$%ing story!” she exclaimed.
“Ohh, sorry,” said Dr. Phuphuey, flinching, “just trying to sweeten up your life a little. What’s up?”
Mrs. Verydistraught settled in her chair, then began.”It’s this!” she said stabbing the mask into the air. “I can’t stand the damn thing, and I don’t want to wear the damn thing, and there’s no science to support that the damn thing is needed or helping anyone.”
Cigarette clenched firmly between his lips, Dr. Phuphuey sprang to his feet and applauded. Loud. “Hear, hear!” he exclaimed. “You’ve got my vote!”
Mrs. Verydistraught smiled, perhaps for the first time in weeks. “I’m not trying to be difficult, or uncaring.”
“I know,” said Dr. Phuphuey. “I’ve always known you to be a caring soul. You’d probably just like to have some rights–not to tell anyone else to do; but to have some say over your own body.”
“Yesss,” said Mrs. Verydistraught. “But I also care about others. Nurses I know who still work in the field tell me they’re being forced to tag any death as ‘virus,’‘ even when test results come back negative. This whole story smells.”
Dr. Phuphuey nodded. “I’m hearing the same reports from my colleagues.” He leaned forward. “May I call you Agnes?”
“Well, you can…but it’s not my name. It’s Yolanda.”
“Hmm,” said Dr. Phuphuey, “a bit of a goof. Close, though. May I share a wisdom story that might help?”
“Please do,” said Yolanda.
“Years ago, there was an ancient Chinese carpenter–14th century, I believe. Ohhh, how he loved to hammer, all day, every day. One day, he was swinging that big hammer of his and he whacked his thumb really bad. It swelled up to the size of watermellon.”
“What happened?” asked Yolanda.
“Well, the neighbouring people all came and said, ‘this is bad, this is bad.’ But he wisely said, ‘we will see, we will see.’ While his thumb was healing during the next two weeks, he made use of the opportunity to take up dancing, just for something to do. It turned out that he was a natural–pirouettes, the splits, that kind of stuff. He became so good that news spread of his dancing abilities.”
“Wonderful,” said Yolanda.
“Uh, huh,” said Dr. Phuphuey. “Well, one day, the king’s men visited and said the king was looking for a dancing carpenter who could build him a Grand Pagada. Of course, our man was a perfect fit for the job. The neighbors came again and this time said, ‘this is good, this is good.” The carpenter said, ‘we will see, we will see.”
“Amazing,” said Yolanda. “Was it a big pagoda?”
“Yes,” said Dr. Phuphuey, “a big pagoda.”
“How big was it?”
“Really really big,” said Dr. Phuphuey with a roll of his eyes. “Anyhooo, one day he was working on the roof of the pagoda and fell onto some rocks. He broke both of his legs. When he was back home, the neighbors came to visit and said, ‘this is bad, this is bad.’ He, although in great agony, said, ‘we will see, we will see.'”
“And…” said Yolanda, leaning forward, “what happened?”
“As I recall, his legs healed quite nicely, and he became a stock trader–made a ton of yen! Of course, the neighbours all came by and said, ‘this is good, this is good.'”
“And the point is…?” asked Yolanda.
Dr. Phuphuey ground out his cigarette. “The point,” he said, “is that even though we pretend to know where life is heading, we don’t really know. The best thing we can do is stay positive. Who can say what is good or what is bad, because nothing lasts? If you can have the wisdom of our friend the carpenter slash dancer slash stock trader, we can all ride this virus story out to the end. Then another story will takes its place.”
“I see,” said Yolanda with a nod.
“Jub jub?” Dr. Phuphuey said, reaching into the drawer. “Nah,” said Yolanda, “but a chocolate bar might be nice.”
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2020–R. Arthur Russell