Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Naked Lunch

It was around noontime, and I was at my desk dictating, trying to keep up with the progress notes. I was bored. I was tired of inquiring solicitously into the color of nasal secretions. I had already scarfed up lunch -- jelly sandwich, apple, raisins and walnuts -- so the high point of the day was over. I knew a long, mucusy slog lay between me and quitting time and I was bummed.

Suddenly I became aware of shrill and perky chatter from the adjacent office. Blah, and, like, blah blah -- and, like -- blah blah BLAH ! --and, like, totally, blah blah !!! A young woman was blathering on in high valley-girl speak at the top of her lungs and my heart sank. If this was Tuesday, it must be drug lunch day. Young, perky drug reps in power suits and scary high heels. Flogging expensive pharmaceuticals with sketchy studies. I swore under my breath. The clinic began to fill with the stench of savory lunch (cue my usual unheeded cavil about how would a nauseated patient feel being subjected to food smells during a doctors visit) and the voices grew louder and more convivial -- and then I, like, blah blah BLAH blah blah, and, no, like, really, BLAH, blah, blah -- are you, like, serious ? like, blah blah BLAH ? --

I got up and slammed my door. Hard. The voices continued right though the wall. I seethed. In my office I am in a distinct minority with regards to drug lunches. I am the cranky nutcase who won't even write with a drug-logo bearing pen or use a drug company post it note. My desk is a Big-Pharma free zone. It's an ethical discipline, a practice, like being a vegan. No drug company goodies for me. And most folks actually agree with me, in theory, when I ask: why should drug companies shower health care workers with expensive lunches and stupid tchotchkes -- bribes, really -- when our patients can barely afford their overpriced and overhyped wares ?

When I'd finished sulking (and when the perky young women had left) I went next door to survey the leavings. I gazed at the plates of fat sandwiches and over-stuffed wraps, the enormous salad, the pile of pastries, the cans of soda. Suddenly I knew what I had to do. And I had the perfect co-conspirator, Lisa, a fellow 'pisky, my most leftward leaning colleague, a woman with a houseful of rescued animals -- and a camera phone ! We would do some undercover investigative journalism, a scathing, Pulitzer level expose of Big Pharma's meaty profligacy ! She, as I suspected, was into it. Like, totally. Soon she was training the unblinking eye of her TMobile on the groaning capitalist board in the break room,

and then she even went on to discover the magnum of Dunkin' Donuts coffee (bearing the logo of an anti-Alzheimer's drug) in the file room ! What a find ! Woodward and Bernstein redux ! Who would play us in the movie ? Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Davis ? Yeah ! (No, I'm the Judy !)

Suddenly I realized I felt much better. Fortified. Energized. Activated. There had been crankiness ! There had been conspiracy ! There had even been PHOTOGRAPHY ! We had stuck it to The Man and now I was ready to get back to work.

Ready, even, to face the mucus.

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