I have a bellyache. What shall I do?
If I had moaned such to Mammy, in a different bay, in a different century, p’raps in a different dimension, for frig sake, she might have consulted The Doctor’s Book to diagnose my particular abdominal malady and administered treatment accordingly.
Raise your hand if you remember The Doctor’s Book being a part of once-upon-atime rural home health care.
Oh, I know it wasn’t actually entitled The Doctor’s Book, but that’s what it was commonly called. I confess, I don’t remember its title. All I remember is that it was a heavy dark blue [?] tome stogged cover to cover with medical information — text and pictures.
The book contained crosssectioned illustrations of the human anatomy in genderspecific detail. At age seven or so, those pictures weren’t what most captivated me. Glossy pictures of diseased eyeballs fill the page I found fascinating.
“Harry, who do you think cares about that old book?” says Dearest Duck, the constant fascination of my dotage.
“P’raps no one, my Duck,” say I.
Nevertheless, The Doctor’s Book was consulted when the ancients [!] attempted to heal themselves despite the fact that textual prognoses were more dire than necessary. A bellyache wasn’t always a grim indication of one’s imminent demise. Sometimes it was merely a boiled bean fermenting on its passage down the alimentary canal.
Flip decades pages, eh b’ys?
When Pa’s Tara was a toddling tot, I was at The University learning some scraps regarding the physical development of small children. The check-list of horrendous disorders that might afflict youngsters scared the whoopsie out of me — fermenting boiled beans notwithstanding.
“Harry, no need to be vulgar,” says Dearest Duck who is the pinnacle — the acme — of proper etiquette.
“My Duck,” say I, “worse things than veiled reference to of calendar a body’s expulsion of pent up gas have become socially acceptable.”
“Still, there is no need,” says Dearest Duck.
Anyway, I frequently ran tests on our unsuspecting daughter.
Sometimes when she sat on the floor concentrating on peeling crayons, I’d sneak up behind her toting the lids of our largest saucepans and slam them like cymbals within inches of her noggin.
I was awash with parental relief if she wailed and, fleeing the sudden clanging thunder behind her, ran weeping to Mommy.
No deafness there…unless the sudden percussion damaged her delicate baby eardrums…
… which is why, in a week or so, I’d feel compelled to repeat the test.
Poisoned with my antics, Dearest Duck made me cease all familial examinations — no assessments of our children; no check-ups on one’s spouse.
I could, however, attempt to diagnose myself.
For instance, I once discovered I suffered the early stages of the same fatal gastric affliction that had felled Grand Pappy.
Quicker than Granny caught the weasel, I was at The Clinic prepared to inform The Physician of the medication he must prescribe.
“Harry,” he said, in a voice not unlike Dearest Duck’s when she’s casting doubt, “what’s causing you distress?” .
“Poisoned with my antics, Dearest Duck made me cease all familial examinations — no assessments of our children; no check-ups on one’s spouse.”
“I have a bellyache,” I said. “Describe your pain,” he said. And so I did, emphasizing its severity. And then I handed him a scrap of paper on which I’d scribbled the unpronounceable names of the medication required to cure my disease.
The Physician, a learned man no doubt, studied the paper before turning it over, writing on it with unexpectedly legible penmanship, and handing it back to me.
I read his prescription: “Harry, buy some Beano.”
Nowadays, I don’t need an updated edition of The Doctor’s Book to guide me. I don’t need to visit The Clinic. I don’t need the learned Physician.
I have The Internet instead. Recently, I had a reoccurrence of my chronic bellyache.
I went online and crosschecked two dozen Medix sites and researched a definitive diagnosis.
On a quasi-illicit — p’raps — site I found an official, digitized prescription pad complete with a “certified” doctor’s signature. Being extra careful to spell correctly the names of all the medicines required, I keyed them into the blanks.
Then, my prescription clutched in my hand, so to speak, I entered Amazon’s Great Big Shop. I placed all prescribed meds into My Cart, linked to Pay Pal and placed my order.
Today, with my hand inside my shirt like Napoleon’s to soothe my pain, I pace from windowpane to windowpane…
… watching for the Daily Courier.
Thank you for reading.