Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why They Thought I Was A Dipso

So. I was in the emergency room yesterday. And there was something weird going on there. The people were wonderful, make no mistake. And they were able to communicate very sensitive issues in a completely comfortable atmosphere.

It wasn't so much that I was offended when they repeatedly asked me questions about 'withdrawal from alchohol,' and my drinking habits, as puzzled by their persistence.

The thing is, that wasn't there from the start. They asked me about my drinking at the initial interview, and it wasn't mentioned for a few hours. During that time they did my blood work, and they'd spoken of my liver in tones of golden praise. If they had physical symptoms to lead them to that conclusion, they would have brought them up as the tests were being delivered to me.

But when I was talking to the doctor, there was a moment of silence in the conversation, and suddenly she stared at me intently. It was brief, but I could see her thinking hard. And she says, "Are you a writer?"

I was, of course, stunned by her insight. (If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a sap, and I've written this same story with a different cast of characters quite recently.) "Yeah. Yeah, I am."

"So, have you ever experienced withdrawal from alchohol?"

And I had to answer that question three more times from different people while I was there.

I thought about it. And I thought about it. Okay, the symptoms I was displaying -- nausea, in an emergency-room format, you provide your own details -- were consistent with alcohol withdrawal. Fair enough. But they were consistent with a lot of other things that were mentioned and dropped.

It wasn't until I went to bed that I put the last piece in place.

When the doctor stared at me, she was reading my T-shirt. T-shirt communication is a tricky thing.

I had been wearing my Viable Paradise Writer's Workshop T-shirt. Which marked me as a writer. Writer = Dipso, as is well-known.

So here's a new writer's workshop T-shirt rule.

Running around town? Cool.

Social event? Uncool.

Professional event? Required.

Times when you don't want to be mistaken for some kind of sterno-guzzling wet-brained flammable sot?

Leave it in the drawer, my friends. Leave it in the drawer.


Phiala said...

That's kind of appalling. And yet funny (sorry).

And I hope you are fully recovered from whatever non-alcohol issue sent you there!

Sean Craven said...

I didn't mind at all. I mean, I let them give me an HIV test and I knew that was silly -- but a genuine negative result is not silly to the medicos.

They deal with a lot of people whose health issues have their roots in secrets. I certainly can't blame them for wondering if a vomiting writer might not have drinking issues.

That said, it was alcohol-related, in that I have a tear/ulcer in my esophagus that is irritated by alcohol, and overeating after a couple of drinks was what initially set me off. It's not as if I've been put on a life ban or anything. I just need to avoid drinking and overeating in unison, that sort of thing. Just have to act like a gentleman rather than a swine...

Thanks for the kind wishes. I'm doing okay now -- gonna try me some beef broth for lunch.

EFKelley said...

That's just hilarious. I suppose the common perception of writers as drunkards is one of popular opinion. Who's to say we just don't enjoy a good twelve hours of drinking per day? Winos do it and they never get accused of being writers.

Wait, I think I just ran over my own point with a truck.

ada said...

This reminds me of the time I was kicked off a jury when the lawyers learned I was a writer.

Sean Craven said...

Eric, the next time I get panhandled, I'm going to accuse the mendicant of being Charles Bukowski. For you.

Ada, I'm convinced the scum were just trying to deprive you of access to rich material.