Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Perks of Practice

It's 6 o'clock, Thursday, and I'm sitting at my desk writing the last notes of the day, trying to remember whose throat was mildly erythematous and whose left ear drum was injected and retracted. All the patients are gone. I too will soon be gone. My phone rings -- my private line, an outside call. I answer.

It is, as is often the case at this hour, DK. And, as is sometimes the case, he's playing a game: "The Wife, On Call."

Hellooooo. (A simpering voice.) This is Mr Jones ! I...I...have fractured my -- spleen !! Yes, my spleen. It is fractured, and my doctor gives me medication. But the medication has fallen right into the toilet ! And then my dog lapped it up, every last pill !

(I play along) And what medication is this, sir ?

Only one medication works for my pain -- it's called parca-, no, porco- , uh, no, perky- ....

Percodan ?

Yes, yes ! That is it ! My doctor ususally gives me 4,000 tablets and eight refills !

Hearing "fractured spleen" come out of my absolutely non-medical spouse's mouth amuses me no end. The problem of patients exhibiting possible "drug-seeking behavior" in my walk-in practice is not at all amusing.

I don't know what's more disturbing, am obviously disingenous attempt to "remember" the word "percocet," or a nickname basis familiarity with common narcotics -- perks, vikes, oxys, T-3's.

I remember a case from my first internship, circa 1978 -- a group of adolescents had broken into a pharmacy owned by one of their fathers and taken large numbers of "Percogesic" -- do they still make the stuff ? -- an over the counter combination of tylenol and and antihistamine, whose perc- containing brand name clearly capitalized on the "percodan" mystique.

And here I am, 25 years later, still cringing at that perky little syllable.

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