Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Only A Flesh Wound -- But It's My Flesh

It's hubris to think you can channel either Art Buchwald or Calvin Trillin, but I did get a compliment from a reader who appreciated how hard it is to do comedy. ("Ask me what's the secret of comedy!") Then a repeat 'winger correspondent wondered why I put in such obscure Republicans as Kyl and Shadegg but didn't mention McCain, although McCain's mentioned twice. Go figure.

The editor gave me top placement this week as Linda Turley-Hansen decided to write on how terrible it is that that Eve Ensler play is at ASU. Imagine that my column would outrank the anti-feminist version of "You kids get off my lawn!"

East Valley Tribune, Feb. 24, 2008

I bumped into my old friend Wilfred J. Gullible, who hadn’t appeared in a newspaper column since Art Buchwald died. He looked just terrible. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“It’s my absolutely necessary, life-saving medical treatment,” he replied. “It’s been an ordeal, and it isn’t over. And I’m not sure I can afford it. But I’m just grateful that I’ve gotten advice and treatment from the best doctors.”

“I’d want the best doctors, too,” I said. “What was wrong with you, anyway?”

Gullible explained that after a scare, he decided to see a specialist. “I asked around, and everybody who claimed to know about medicine -- you know, on cable shows where people yell at each other behind multiple layers of graphics -- said that the most experienced, the most serious doctors they knew were Dr. Bush and Dr. Cheney.”

“So I made an appointment, and they ran a couple tests, and said that while nobody had absolute certainty, they couldn’t rule out the possibility that my liver might develop dangerous lesions that, left unchecked, could destroy my body,” he said.

“Liver lesions?” I asked.

“Dr. Bush called them welts of mass destruction,” Gullible said. “He and Dr. Cheney said we simply couldn’t take the chance that the liver wouldn’t develop WMD capability -- so we had no choice but to go in and take it out.”

“So what happened when Dr. Bush removed your liver?”

“Well,” Gullible said, “It turns out that those liver bumps weren’t WMD after all, but just bumps. Then, my doctors had thought that the organs around the liver would be overjoyed by removal of the threat of liver-based WMD, but it turns out that the liver does all sorts of important stuff for your body. I now have to take expensive drugs and treatments for the rest of my life. Another doctor in their practice, Dr. McCain, said that it wouldn’t be a problem if I were on liver drugs for a hundred years. At least not a problem for him.”

I asked, “But how do you feel about living without a liver -- especially once you found out there were no WMD?”

Gullible replied, “Once we invaded my liver, we had no choice but to remove it all and substitute all these expensive drugs. The consequences of withdrawal would be too great. I’m just grateful that I used the most experienced and most serious surgeons for my treatment -- if I can afford it.”

“What do you mean, if you can afford it?”

“All of the surgery, and the rehab, and these liver drugs are pretty expensive, and my insurance gave out long ago. And it’s a double whammy for me, because my investment advisors, the firm of Kyl and Shadegg, took all my investments and made me a budget that didn’t include any of my medical costs.”

“These guys are serious, though. Apparently using their accounting standards, money spent chasing WMD simply doesn’t count. They’re on me every day about so-called “wasteful spending,” like getting a large coffee instead of a medium -- that’s 80 cents! But I’m spending hundreds of thousands on the costs of my liver surgery and drugs, but that’s just not registering with my advisors. But I still have to pay the bills, so my net worth is drying up,” Gullible explained.

“So what’s next, Gullible?” I asked. “Do you have any hope for recovery?”

“Bush, Cheney, and McCain now have me seeing a new doctor, who thinks he knows what I need now,” said Gullible. “It’s another really serious guy, Dr. Lieberman. He wants to take out my kidneys, because he thinks they represent the greatest threat to my health since Hitler.”

“Isn’t that what they said about your liver?” I asked

“Sure, but maybe this time, they’re right,” said Gullible. “And it would be important to keep all the options -- including radical surgery -- on the table.”

I replied, “But I thought doctors all took the Hippocratic Oath. You know, ‘first do no harm.’ Shouldn’t you try something else before more surgery?”

“Oh,” said Gullible. “That’s so pre-9/11. These days, it’s bomb first, think later.”

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