Let Me Feel Your Pulse
So I went to a doctor.
How long has it been since you took any alcohol into your system? he asked.
Turning my head sideways, I answered, Oh, quite a while.
He was a young doctor, somewhere between twenty and forty. He wore heliotrope socks, but he looked like Napoleon. I liked him immensely.
Now, said he, I am going to show you the effect of alcohol upon your circulation. I think it was circulation he said; though it may have been advertising.
He bared my left arm to the elbow, brought out a bottle of whisky, and gave me a drink. He began to look more like Napoleon. I began to like him better.
Then he put a tight compress on my upper arm, stopped my pulse with the fingers, and squeezed a rubber bulb connected with an apparatus on a stand that looked like a thermometer. The mercury jumped up and down without seeming to stop anywhere; but the doctor said it registered two hundred and thirty- seven or one hundred and sixty-five or some such number.
Now, said he, you see what alcohol does to the blood-pressure.
Its marvellous, said I, but do you think it a sufficient test? Have one on me, and lets try the other arm. But, no!
Then he grasped my hand. I thought I was doomed and he was saying good-bye. But all he wanted to do was to jab a needle into the end of a finger and compare the red drop with a lot of fifty-cent. Poker chips that he had fastened to a card.
Its the hæmoglobin test, he explained. The colour of your blood is wrong.
Well, said I, I know it should be blue; but this is a country of mix-ups. Some of my ancestors were cavaliers; but they got thick with some people on Nantucket Island, so
I mean, said the doctor, that the shade of red is too light.
Oh, said I, its a case of matching instead of matches.
The doctor then pounded me severely in the region of the chest. When he did that I dont know whether he reminded me most of Napoleon or Battling or Lord Nelson. Then he looked grave and mentioned a string of grievances that the flesh is heir tomost ending in itis. I immediately paid him fifteen dollars on account.
Is or are it or some or any of them necessarily fatal? I asked. I thought my connection with the matter justified my manifesting a certain amount of interest.
All of them, he answered cheerfully. But their progress may be arrested. With care and proper continuous treatment you may live to be eighty-five or ninety.
I began to think of the doctors bill. Eighty-five would be sufficient, I am sure, was my comment. I paid him ten dollars more on account.
The first thing to do, he said, with renewed animation, is to find a sanatorium where you will get a complete rest for awhile, and allow your nerves to get into a better condition. I myself will go with you and select a suitable one.