The Dread Diagnosis (or, The Tale of the Meddling Psychiatrist)

   I am alive and wealthier (what a wonderful way to be!).  Don’t get too excited–wealth is relative, after all.  A few days ago, I had zero money.  While I am not yet basking in the warm glow of solvency, I get the feeling that it’s just around the corner, and that feels great.   It also feels great not to be a headless corpse under a futon frame!

    So, moving on, let me tell you about this douche canoe of a psychiatrist who’s been breaking my balls for the last few weeks.

    Readers of this blog will know that since I dried out, I’ve struggled periodically with insomnia.  It sucks.  Well, I decided so consult a professional about it.  Maybe a doctor could hook me up with some Lunesta or something.

    So, I made an appointment and rolled in to the campus health clinic.  In retrospect, this was a really bad idea.  I have never received competent medical services there.  Not once.  They fuck up a pap test.  I’m serious.  I get my OB-GYN tests at this ghetto Planned Parenthood down the street, happily paying out of pocket, because the campus health clinic has done it wrong or lost the results repeatedly.  Every time I’ve had blood drawn there, the nurse collapses the vein.  It goes on and on.  It’s astonishing.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to catalog my dismal history with the health clinic…just trust me on this one: the level of service is very poor.  Why?  The clinic at my last university was fantastic.

   I’m in the office with the physician, talking about my sleep problems.  He looks at my chart, looks at me, looks back at my chart.  His brow furrows.  I get the feeling that he’s not listening to the words that are coming out of my mouth.

   He wants to weigh me.  The nurse already weighed me, but whatever.

   I hop on the scale in the scale.  Why did I hop on the scale?  Why didn’t I just walk?

   The number on the scale corresponds to the number on the scale outside, where I’d just been weighed.

   The physician sticks his head out of the door and calls for an assistant.  When she comes in, he asks if I would remove my shirt.  Like a fool, I do, lifting my t-shirt over my head and then folding it into a square and placing it by my side.

    More furrowed brow.  Two furrowed brows, this time.

    “How did you get those bruises?”

    Aw, doc, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.  I forget, I honestly forget, how bad my marks look to non-sadomasochists.  And I was hardly even banged up!  They were just a few leftovers from my last trip out of town (the Corvette).

     “The gym,” I say.  This is what I always say when queried about my bruises.  It’s mostly a lie, but I really do, in fact, get bruises at the gym.  I’m clumsy, I run into stuff, weights are heavy.

      “How often do you work out at the gym?”

      “Depends.  Four days a week.”  I lift weights in my living room, too.  “I don’t do it before bed, though, because it wakes me up.”  I naively assume we are still talking about my insomnia.

      “What do you do there?”

      Like a fool, the details of my precise routine trip off my tongue.  Get this, gentle reader: between that and  the news that I’d quit the booze, I expected a pat on the back. Ha!  Ha!  Joke’s on me!

      He puts the blood pressure cuff on my arm.  It wraps around and around and around.  More brow-furrowing.  While he’s up close and personal, I see him eyeing my bruises.  But I’m telling you, there were just a few!

     “Did you do that to yourself?” he asks.

     Well, in a manner of speaking… But what I say is, “Huh? No.”

    He pumps the little rubber squeeze-ball.  Looks at the reader.  “Your blood pressure is pretty low.”

   “Yup!”  And here I thought it was good news.

    “You’re underweight,” he says.

     Uh-oh. It finally starts to dawn on me that the good doctor isn’t thinking about my sleep problems.  He’s not thinking about my sleep problems at all.

     “Always been thin.  Runs in the family.  My mother still weighs what she did in high school.”

     “You saw a counselor at the clinic across the hall regarding an eating disorder.”  It isn’t a question.  I can’t deny it–he’s got the file.

     “That was a long time ago,” is all I can say.

      He goes to the drawer and takes out his book, his psychiatrist book.  You know the one, gentle reader. Then he takes out his charts.

      “A woman your height should weigh at least 137 lbs,” he says, holding his laminated charts in his hand.

     Well, I got news for you: that is not going to happen.

     I can’t say that, obviously.  Saying that to the psychiatrist would be insane.

     I shrug.

     He opens his book.  I’m starting to get pissed off.  I see where he’s going with this.  He takes out his calculator and punches some numbers.

     He looks up at me.  “I have to tell you: you meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa.”

     Oh, for fuck’s sake.  You’re late to the party, Doc.  You missed it.  I’m not sick anymore.  I don’t do all that crazy shit I used to do.  Those behaviors–I quit all of them.  All of them!  I eat now!  I eat all the time!  I eat every day!  HOW DARE YOU?

       I can’t say that, obviously.  Saying that to the psychiatrist would be insane.

       What I say instead is: “I’m physically healthy.  You know it.  There are women on the college track team with lower body fat than I have.  Look, I’m just thin.”

        “You need to gain weight.”

        Don’t roll your eyes and don’t get belligerent.  Play along.  “Sure, no problem.  Look, I lost a little weight when I quit drinking.  That was a lot of empty calories I used to consume!  I’m better now.”

       Asshole wanted to see me again in a few weeks.  “Sure” I said!  “No problem!”

      This motherfucker–I want to murder him.  How dare he fuck with my life?  I can’t get in his face and tell him what I really think.  Such as: what good, pray tell, could possibly come from diagnosing me with anorexia?  What are you going to do–treat it with a pill?  You cannot help me, all you can do is cause me harm.

      So, go see a doctor for insomnia and almost get slapped with the diagnosis of anorexia.  Great!  Thanks for nothing, asshole!

       It is critical that I avoid this diagnosis.  Critical.  I was never diagnosed with alcoholism and never went to rehab, so it’s off my record.  Dodged that bullet.

      Anorexia is even worse.  It’s a major mental illness.  That fucking diagnosis would follow me through life like a tin can tied to a dog’s tail. Insurance companies would get their hands on it.  I could be discriminated against and not even know it.  I don’t know much about the law, but I’m pretty sure that medical records can be subpoenaed.  This could be thrown in my face and used against me any number of ways–in a divorce, in a custody battle, God knows what else.  It would cause me to flunk background checks for certain jobs that require security clearance.  I mean, I never intended to work for the Secret Service, for instance, but a diagnosis of anorexia would ensure that I never would.  Fruitcakes can’t be trusted.

     I have to go see this asshole again this week, and I have to convince him that I’m fine.  Which I am!  It also pisses me off so much that he’s threatening me with this now, at this late date, after I’ve practically recovered from the goddamned thing!  I want to shout in his face–you should’ve seen me before!  The things I used to do to myself would make your hair turn white!

     But of course, I can’t tell him any of those things.  Saying that to the psychiatrist would be insane.

     I’ve gotta smooth this over.  Appease him.  At any cost.

     And that means…I’ve been eating since the last time I saw him, in preparation for our next weigh-in.  Eating a lot.  I sure as hell am not going to hit 137 lbs, but I’ve got to get above 85% of that in order to avoid the dread diagnosis.  And so I have.  Ha!  Take that, you meddling psychiatrist!

     I’ve added eight lbs. of lard to my ass.  There!  Happy now?  Happy?

     Actually, it’s not on my ass.  It’s on my face.  I hate looking like this.

     I can’t wait till I get this guy out of my hair.  It’ll take me two weeks of hard, cruel, painful starving to get back to how I was.  God, it’s such…hard…work.

     Why couldn’t he diagnose me with something FUN, like ADD?  At least then I could get adderall!

    Of course, I can’t say that to him.  Saying that to the psychiatrist would be insane.

    Saying all this stuff would be crazy.

    What’s really crazy, though, is thinking it.




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