Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Useful Technique

“It sounds like a stomach virus. These usually don’t last long. You’re healthy, so vomiting for a while isn’t life-threatening, but it’s definitely miserable. I make housecalls, so if you’d like me to come….”

“It sounds like a stomach virus. These usually don’t last long. Here’s what I want you to do. Don’t eat anything. Don’t drink anything. Get some ice from the ice machine. Lay quietly with a piece of ice in your mouth. Don’t chew. Keep sucking on the ice. I promise to call back in two hours. If you want a housecall, I can come.”

I’ve given these two pieces of advice thousands of times. If, after hearing the first piece, a stoic vomiter decides to wait, I deliver the second, but sometimes I go straight to number two.

“The fish tasted funny, and I’ve been throwing up since two. Can you give me something?”  The caller was at the Beverly Garland in Universal City. It’s an easy fifteen mile trip but not at 6 p.m. on a weekday. I try not to drive long distances when the freeways are jammed. To avoid this, I use a technique we in the medical profession call “stalling.”

At least half have improved when I call back, so I lose a good deal of money, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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