Female, Age Twenty, In Need of a Diagnosis
by Eimile Bowden
“Female, age twenty-four, experiencing nausea, sweating, and excruciating pelvic pain.”
Sounds like a burst ovarian cyst.
“Let’s do an ultrasound to look at her ovaries.”
“Male, age forty-five, suffering from migraines, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound,
and says he feels like he’s ‘living in a movie.’”
Concussion. It’s a concussion.
“Sir, have you hit your head recently?”
“Well, I work in construction and I was-”
“Female, age sixty-five, discomfort while urinating, lower back pain, and-”
UTI turned bladder infection. Easy.
“Take a urine sample.”
I love hospitals, especially a late-night trip to the emergency room. This one is no different, it brings me the same amount of twisted joy as any other unexpected hospital visit. I run my fingers over the thin sheets that cover the lumpy mattress as I listen to the symphony of machines and voices that only a medical institution can provide. I hit the jackpot with this room; it’s near one of the nurses’ stations so I can eavesdrop on my fellow patients’ cases. There is a soft knock on the wall and my curtain opens. The nurse rambles off my symptoms and I nod along with her, even though she isn’t looking for my approval.
“Female, age twenty, experiencing nausea, vomiting, migraines, and general body aches. Not pregnant, blood work looks fairly normal, but she is a little dehydrated and we should keep her on fluids.”
“It looks like a bad case of the stomach flu,” the doctor responds with a sigh.
I knew it.
“Sounds good!” I reply.
The nurse pushes her eyebrows together but doesn’t ask. The doctor leaves the room quietly with a friendly but bored smile. He’d rather be examining someone who swallowed a screwdriver or a patient with a tapeworm from an exotic vacation.
I try an old joke of my father’s to lighten the mood.
“Well, at least you don’t have to amputate.”
The nurse glances at me and presses her lips into a long thin line. This nurse doesn’t think I’m funny. I bet she thinks I’m an asshole for trying to joke about something like amputation. Maybe she’s seen people lose limbs or is an amputee herself. It’d probably make it worse if I asked about her limbs or lack thereof.
She hands over papers that have the Answer, and marks where I need to sign. The Answer paper is always explicitly clear. I can depend on its thorough explanation of the visit and diagnosis, followed by neat bulleted lists of home remedies and treatment options. There is no room for vagueness or unclear messages. There is only permanent black ink on clean white paper and I am comforted by its clarity, it’s definiteness and assuredness. I tear off my copy and hand the signed portion to the nurse who does not think I’m funny.
Eimile Bowden is a recent college graduate, pop culture enthusiast, and avid supporter of the arts. This is her first published piece.