Chapter 9 – Treatment Options

April 13th, 2010 § 2 comments

Veronica was much closer to death than the Medivac team had led on. They had gotten to her in time however and there was no permanent damage done to her brain or liver. The wounds to her arms were superficial and would heal, but without cosmetic surgery there’d be scars.

That first night Felix sat in a chair by her side, not really sleeping. The sun, advancing up the center of the windowpane, reached his eyes. She stirred, swallowed and opened her eyes, staring at the ceiling.

“Baby?” He sat up straight and whispered, “Veronica? Are you awake?” For a minute she continued to stare at the ceiling, and then her head flopped on its side, as if it had been knocked over, and he was in her line of vision.

She gulped painfully and studied Felix. She seemed to recognize him. He smiled.

Every cell of his brain, lungs and heart, every breath and thought was bent to the one task of bringing her to life, as if he could control both matter and fate by will alone. It was childish, he knew. And despite these efforts, he was too skeptical to believe that she would be all right, or even that she would live. Yet here she was.

She swallowed again and said, in a low brittle voice, “Fuck you!” Then she looked back up at the ceiling, shut her eyes, and went to sleep, with a grunting snore.

For several days they kept her heavily sedated, strapped to a bed in the locked ward. He sat in the chair, only getting up to buy food and drink, or go to the bathroom. Once a day he washed his face. Twice brushed his teeth. Her food remained untouched till it was cold and congealed. Then someone came and took it away. They measured her fields, they drew blood, spinal fluid, assayed her tears, incinerated stools, disarticulated urine.

When it was time for a consultation with Intellatrawl Doctor Tarlton, they restored her to her senses.

“I’ve fucking had it with that Intellatrawl quack,” she said, sitting up in the hospital bed.

“I know, but we have no choice.

“Can’t you just push me out the window?” He ignored her. “It’s my right to die.”

“I’m at a loss. We crossed a line here somewhere.”

She hid her disgust in her hands. “If I could take it, take you or any of it, do you think I’d want to die?”

“But that’s crazy despair.”

“No, that’s not crazy, that’s sane. This–this whole fucking planet-this organization of matter into molecules and brains and society, sexual reproduction, language, viruses and history, are insane. Woman, man: insane; the binaries and the unities; progressive division. This clade ends here. Like Christ. If we stopped fucking it would all go away and then there’d be the kingdom of god. Or Buddha. The end of passion is the end of suffering. To go and not come back. My bath was not insane.”

“Do me a favour and don’t talk like that in front of Tarlton.”

“Oh, what are you afraid of? You don’t understand. I used to think you did. I thought you knew.”

“Knew?”

“Yeah, knew. About things. Knew what was up. You don’t know shit. You just,” she mumbled.

“I do understand about things. Now be quiet. If you want to go, be quiet.”

“I’m just going to try again. By the end there, when I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t cold, I liked it. I think I’ll try again, first chance I get.”

Felix helped her into the wheel chair. Her legs were stiff. She had little white booties, and a hospital gown that came untied in the back, showing the crack of her ass. She looked forlorn and damaged, old. The bandages on her arm looked like white crosses in a graveyard at dusk. Despite her anger, she took his hand, and clung to his neck, before sitting down heavily in the chair. He pushed her to the desk, signed out of the locked ward and went through double leather- upholstered doors, down another hall and into the consultation room.

The lights popped on. An older man, in his seventies, with a grey crew cut, sat at a computer. His well-tanned head was large, larger than his small skinny body. He had heavy hands. “So good to see you both again,” he said without facing them. “Have a seat Felix, I’m just reviewing Veronica’s file.” He had a cheerful, professional voice, no hint of condescension. “Well, well, well. Here we are again.” He swirled around in his chair and looked at them. “Still hostile,

Veronica?”

“Why do you say that?” she asked.

“Just thought I’d ask. Let’s get down to it. We seem to have tried everything. You first came to me complaining about ennui, restlessness, anxiety, lack of satisfaction with life and career. The treatment option we pursued was a mild mood enhancer, increased exercise, a low fat, high protein diet. Then it was insomnia and frequent painful cramping. We selected DigestAid to relieve gas and a mild relaxant before bed, maintained the mood enhancer, increased protein intake and the intensity of exercise. Meditation recommended. Your irritability increased and you manifested hostility towards the various treatment protocols. So we increased the mood enhancer, went to a strong narcotic therapy, and advised you to seek out some form of therapeutic talk sessions, spousal communication therapy, and deep massage. Next it was nightmares and delusional episodes. Drop the mood enhancers and narcotics and add antipsychotic preventatives, SchizAvoid 9000, Norave, Comatode. Headaches, lack of sexual desire and anhedonia with incipient drug- induced anorexia. Anti-anxiety drugs, intense aerobic workouts, labial dilators. Then there’s the death of three parents, oh my, a bad stretch, that. We went straight to sleeping pills and the most potent Euphorics then available, as well as four hours of confessional psychotherapy. You changed analysts several times, Neo Freudian, Adlerian Modified, Jungian…hmmm…oh, look, a Lacanian. How quixotic. How long were the sessions?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Not bad! Chiropractic readjustments, electroconvulsive therapy, acupuncture and quantum wave analysis. Now you’ve tried to kill yourself.”

Felix and Veronica said nothing.

“You know, I’ve been at this a long time. Flus, cancers, hepatic conditions, resistant congenital defects, various manias and dementias. All sorts of things. I’ve even treated broken bones. Nearly every mental illness known to us has a treatment option. But there are a few recalcitrant disorders that respond to no known treatment. These usually end in suicide and we have to just throw up our hands and say ‘boo’.” He turned to the computer. “I suppose you are starting to despair, or you never would have done this to yourself. I don’t blame you. But I have a rather pleasant surprise for you. I’ve arranged for a consultation with the chief of psychiatry here at Rockland General.”

The computer burped and the alias of Dr. Eulenfeld materialized in the room. It looked at each of them, a stoop shouldered man in his forties, completely bald, with a face like a bellows. Periodically the alias dissolved into pixels, and reassembled into grids of color, or a grainy continuum of grey, pink and lavender. The voice was missing its bottom.

“Greetings Mr. and Mrs. Clay, Dr. Tarlton.”

“Nice to meet you Dr. Eulenfeld,” said Felix.

Veronica glared distantly.

“As Intellatrawl Dr. Tarlton was saying. There are those persnickety cases that always seem to end in death,” his voice dropped to give the next word drama, but with the lower end out, he garbled, “or tragedy. Despite our best effort. But I have been having great luck with a new Monozone Euphoric. Now, Monozone has the best Euphorics on the market, they invented the field after all. But Paregane is a step up. It is the first drug that has ever been truly effective in cases like yours, where the prognosis is grim.”

Veronica wiggled her butt around on the chair and made a face. “I’m tired of your stinking drugs. And you aren’t even real.”

“Mrs. Clay, I understand why you feel that way. Are you aware of the statistics–”

“You mean more fucking chances.”

“The numbers, Mrs. Clay, are clear. Over 90% of cases like yours end in successful suicide.”

Veronica spit. “This one kills your appetite for food. This one makes you never wanna fuck again. This one makes you feel stupid. This one suffocates you in your sleep. This one destroys your dreams. This one your hope and desire. I would like to finish what you started.”

It spread its hands apart and smiled, squatting down beside the wheel chair and speaking at eye level to Veronica. “Now,” he said kindly, “I’m aware of our shortcomings in this area. But you’re really in for quite a surprise here. There are no known side effects to Paregane. You take one pill at bedtime, have delightful dreams and awake after just 7 1/2 hours sleep fully refreshed, strong and happy. It doesn’t just restore your appetite, it makes it stronger. You have better sex, better relationships, better exercise even. Paregane makes you feel good again, without killing your energy.

“Will that be all?” the alias of Dr. Eulenfeld asked.

Intellatrawl Dr. Tarlton smiled. “That was great Dr. Eulenfeld. Thank you.”

Dr. Eulenfeld collapsed into a spark and a dank, echoey voice said, “This has been a Virtual Consultation with Dr. Eulenfeld of Rockland General Hospital. Your consultation number is 7756-3270574– 02279-565628109/udot/memcodes3H. If at any time in the future, for the period covered by the statute of limitation, you wish to file a complaint, reference all correspondence and evidence to this number, along with your case file number, name of your Intellatrawl Primary Physician, and today’s date and time.”

Dr. Tarlton smiled again. “A formality. All of that information is right here on your chart.” He waved his personal recorder around in the air. “So Mrs. Clay, what do you think? Give it a whirl?”

Veronica was phasing in and out, chewing her tongue and licking her lips.

“Dr. Tarlton. If she says yes to Paregane, can she come home?”

He folded his hands in his lap and leaned back in his chair. “If she takes it tonight, I would say she could go home in the morning. Is that soon enough?”

Felix could hardly restrain his joy. “Did you hear that babe? Tomorrow!”

“Fuck,” she muttered.

“Mrs. Clay, we need your consent.”

“It’s the only way, babe.”

Veronica, with great effort, turned to Felix and said, “Will you stay another night then?”

He wanted a shower, a good night’s sleep. “Of course. Dr. Tarlton, it’s been a long time in that chair.”

“Oh, we can do something about that. And let’s get you off the locked ward.” He turned back to the computer. “I have a private room available on the Klingenstein Pavilion. It’s small, but I think a cot’ll fit, just for one night. I’ll come by at 9 am and discharge you.

How does that sound?”

Felix stood. “Great. Thank you Dr. Tarlton.”

They settled into their new room and watched a movie about the swimming kangaroos of Adelaide. They held hands, between the cot and the bed, and ate packaged food. At midnight a nurse came in and gave Veronica a glass of orange juice to wash down a little green pill stamped with the letter P.

§ 2 Responses to “Chapter 9 – Treatment Options”

  • chris says:

    Just a little note to let you know that I still love this story and I can’t wait to hear more. The fact that you’re doing this makes it clear that it’s a very important story to you, and that makes it even more enjoyable. Donation coming very soon. (Creepiness + Dirty Words = Happiness).

  • miette says:

    Hello Chris,

    Glad you enjoy the story. Chapter 10 is coming next week; I’m editing it now and it’s one of the best. Stay tuned.

    Your formula for happiness looks just about right, but I never was useful at math, so don’t trust me. And we’re more concerned about keeping you creepily and dirtily happy than collecting donations. Very glad you’re listening!

    xo
    – Mtte.

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