My rock ‘n’ roll doctor emerged from the ER examining room. He was talking excitedly on his cell. He walked past us, up the hall. Marina told me that, unless he was treating someone else whose blood sugar went up after an insulin shot, he was taking about me. Doc opened the door to the staff room. A cloud if cigarette smoke rolled out. The door closed behind him.
Twenty minutes later, doc reappeared. He ushered us back into the examining room, where we joined a doctor who’d not been there before. The new doc opined that I probably have type 2 diabetes. Finally! Finally, someone has an answer to the eternal question – What the Hell is wrong with Salmi?
But it was an answer that meant nothing to me. I indicated my ignorance with body language – what the Hell does that mean? Marina explained that the pancreases (pancrea-eye?) of type 1 diabetics produce NO insulin. The pancreawhatevers of type 2 diabetics produce some insulin, but not enough.
I smiled maniacally at Marina, thrust two fingers into the air and started chanting, “We’re number two! We’re number two!”
Turning gloom into mirth is the ultimate in psy-alchemy. Any fool who’s proud to be one takes incredible delight from his ability to turn a frown upside down, and I got a fuckin’ eh lightning bolt of sizzling hahaha to my foolish ego when everyone in the room started laughing at my funny.
And? They’d resolved to give me an IV drip, to see if that would bring my blood sugar level down to a number that would free me of their welcomed company, at least for the night. “And long term?” I asked.
The rock ‘n’ roll doctor jabbered at Marina for ten seconds. Everyone in the room but me broke into smiles halfway through his jabbering. Marina jabbered back at him Everyone giggled. He nodded his approval.
“It’s manageable,” said Marina with a straight face. “But you’re gonna have to make some lifestyle changes.” Drinking and smoking, no doubt, I thought. Fuck! I LOVE drinking and smoking. But you do have to be alive to drink ans smoke, so….
The doctors and nurses were watching me very carefully. Marina tried to maintain her straight face but broke into a small smile when she said, “The doctor says you’re going to have to brush your hair and teeth more often.”
If you haven’t been following this story from the beginning, we’ll have to go back there for you to see how clever my girl is. This all started two days prior, early n the morning:
Marina and I both had to go get our blood tested this morning. I’m one of those writers who does his best work after midnight, so I was up until 5 am. I got an hour of sleep before Marina woke me up. I was grumpy.
Marina told me I needed to brush my hair and teeth before we went to the clinic.
“What the Hell for?” I grumped. “We already know I’m ugly and stinky.”
As Marina gave me a gloating smirk in the ER examining room, my mind lunged and thrashed around trying to conjure a clever retort. It took me a few seconds, but I came back with a comeback, “I can live with that.”
As I walked past him, the guy in the corner was moaning and groaning piteously. His guttural grousings filled the otherwise empty room. He smelled of fresh vomit and a thousand cigarettes. He looked like death warmed over (Death wormed over – isn’t that brilliant word work? I wish I’d come up with that one).
The nurse sat me down, stuck an IV in me, slid a syringe filled with insulin into the bottle’s stopper, and told me to get horizontal. Then she instructed Marina to leave the room. I could see no reason why she should have to wait in the hallway, but did not voice an objection.
Mr. Moan and Groan in the corner was well enough to take a call on his cell. Montenegrins are cell phone junkies. When I first arrived here, to edit The Montenegro Times, the publisher put me up in his apartment for a few days. As he and I broke fast one day, his cleaning lady arrived. Before she got to work she pulled out her three cell phones and placed them on a counter. A cleaning lady with three cell phones? Where the fuck am I? Why the fuck does a cleaning lady need three cell phones? I quickly came to understand that Montenegrins never want to miss a minute of gossip. Many of them take great pride in knowing more none-of-your-business than anyone else in the country. Such sirens of scandal have pay-as-you-go accounts with all three cell phone providers in order to enable their feeders and cut their expenses. So, I was not surprised when Mr. Moan and Groan took a second call, on a second cell. The Reaper may have been reaching for him
but he wasn’t going to reject a call.
Or, who knows? perhaps he was proffering valuable advice to the Prime Minister on an urgent matter of great import. Maybe he was talking to is wife, waiting in the hall with Marina. That I was so quick to jump to a cynical conclusion about Mr. Moan and Groan was proof that I was getting pissy. Laughing in the face of death can be taxing, even to the most merry of fools.
No longer needing to perform, I sat in silence and contemplated the life of Brian.
Slap yourself silly if you didn’t see this coming as soon as you read that I was contemplating the life of Brian
The bright side? Of sitting in an ER room, with an IV stuck in you on a cold, rainy night in Yugoslavia, just minutes after being told you have a serious disease that could drop you into a coma if your condition doesn’t change? Hmmmmm. Think, Brian. That’s you, up there on that cross. What d’ya got to whistle about?
The dark and heavies descended. They sat on my chest. They felt like two 600 lb. gorillas.
The Reaper took leave of Mr. Moan and Groan, plopped himself down on his throne in order to look more menacing and majestic, and mocked me,
“Yeah, Brian, what d’ya got to whistle about?”
“Not much, I guess,” I answered, watching a nurse wheel Benny Hill’s little buddy into the room through the swinging doors.
Before the doors could stop swinging, Marina popped her head in. I had my answer, “Fuck you, Reaper! Take a look at that angel in the doorway. Can ya see how much light is coming off her? Can ya feel how much love is coming from her?” Huh? Can ya? Can ya?”
The Reaper stopped laughing. He looked grim as he turned and walked away from the light.
The Reaper looked grim, Marina looked glum, but I was laughing again (and trying to whistle). When I noticed that Mr. Moan and Groan was still advising the Prime Minister, and realized that Benny Hill’s little buddy’s wife had walked in behind him, I told Marina to come in. The nurse was busy texting, so there were no objections.
Marina took my hand and kissed me. “I love you,” we said, simultaneously. She was still shrouded in sadness, though, so I asked her what my rock ‘n’ roll doctor had really said back in the examining room (I knew damn well that it was not he who came of with the clever grooming crack). Marina smiled, “He said you’re going to have to learn to lighten up and laugh more.”
A half hour later we were on our way home. My blood sugar level had dropped down to 10.2 and I was, for the moment at least, out of the danger zone.