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karma.jpg
Art by Dr. I. M. Irascible 2017

KARMA

 

by Dr. I. M. Irascible

 

 

After three miserable days of being housebound with a virulent strain of intestinal flu, Denise Waterman decides to phone her primary care physician’s office, in the hope of obtaining a prescription.

 

“Hello, Back Cove Primary Care. Bridget speaking. How may I help you?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.

 

“Hi, my name is Denise Waterman. I’m a patient of Dr. Applebaum. I’m calling to

request a prescription.”  

 

“What sort of prescription, ma’am?”

 

“I’ve caught some sort of wretched stomach virus.”

 

“What are your symptoms, ma’am?”

 

“I’ve been on the toilet for three straight days.”

 

“So . . . diarrhea?”

 

“Yes, bucketloads. It just keeps pouring out of me. I can’t even think about leaving the house.”

 

“Okay . . . Are you having any other symptoms?”

 

“Cramps, I’m having the most God-awful cramps!”

 

“On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being no pain at all, and 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, how would you rate these cramps?”

 

“14! Think of your worst time of the month, ever, and you still can’t imagine it.”

 

“My goodness, ma’am. That sounds really unpleasant.”

 

“That’s because it really is, so will you please ask Dr. Applebaum to call in a prescription? My friend says she can pick it up on her way home from work.”

 

“I’d be happy to assist you, Ms. Waterman.  What’s your primary health insurance?”

 

“I have Blue Cross, Blue Shield through the state.”

 

“You’re a state employee?”

 

“Yes, I work for Cumberland Country DHHS.”

 

“Oh, really. A lot of our patients have been having trouble with DHHS ever since the governor lowered the maximum monthly income limit for MaineCare.”

 

“Well, I fully support the governor’s initiative. People in this state seem to think they’re entitled to Medicaid benefits. I’m actually about to break the record for most Medicaid claims ever denied by a case worker in a single month.”

 

“My . . . that’s . . . quite an accomplishment.”

 

“Thank you. Aarrgggh . . . hold on a minute. I’m having another one. Oh, no . . . not again!” 

 

That same moment, Denise is doubled over by a spasm in her lower abdomen. She clutches the phone with both hands dangling between her knees, as the pain grows steadily worse.

 

 “Oh, God . . . pleeeeaaasse!”

 

“Ms. Waterman?”

 

The administrative assistant strains to listen as Denise’s voice becomes faint and distant.  Just then, she hears what can only be described as an explosive bowel movement.

 

Nearly a minute passes before Denise has the wherewithal to put the phone back to her ear. “Hi, Bridget,” she resumed, without a trace of embarrassment. “Did you get all that?”

 

“Um . . . yes, Ms. Waterman. Um . . . oh, dear. You don’t sound well.”

 

“I don’t sound well? Listen, buttercup! I just passed everything but my brains! Now, will you please have Dr. Applebaum call the pharmacy for me?”

 

“Yes, Ms. Waterman. I’ll speak to her. Will you please hold?”

 

Several minutes later, Bridget comes back on the line, “Hello, Ms. Waterman.”

 

“What took you so long?”

 

“Sorry to keep you waiting. I spoke with Dr. Applebaum, and she says that she can prescribe an antiviral, which should relieve your symptoms within a couple of days.  Unfortunately, our billing department has informed me that your health plan does not cover this medication.”

 

“What?” Denise shouted into the phone, grimacing at the onset of yet another cramp.  “Why the hell not? Can’t you see I’m dying, here?”

 

“Because, Ms. Waterman,” replied the administrative assistant curtly, “karma is a preexisting condition.”

 

 

 

While Dr. I. M. Irascible strives to honor the female subjects of his poems, stories, and drawings, he tends to depict them as flawed protagonists, who spend a lot of time with their skirts up.

In Association with Fossil Publications