Sunday 13th February 2011

by Megan Beth Koester

“A study of the impact of tobacco on the normal changes in sympathetic nerve activity (nerves that carry adrenaline) in premenopausal women.”

The research physician struts into the room wearing a miniskirt and sporting long, glossy hair—she may have an M.D., but she’s also a M.I.L.F. The middle-aged, semi-English speaking nurse who has been assigned to my case looks monstrous in comparison. Dr M.I.L.F. M.D. treats her like a slave; she’s hot shit, though, and she knows it. If she didn’t strip her way through med school, she made a cardinal error in judgment.

“The activity in the peroneal nerve will be recorded. The peroneal nerve is located on the outside of your lower leg…once the nerve is located, two tiny sterile wire electrodes will be inserted through the skin 3 to 5 mm. This is done without local anesthesia; the electrodes are so small that they produce only a tiny pinprick feeling when inserted.”

She repeatedly pokes a small needle in and out of my ankle, searching for the nerve. My leg kicks uncontrollably like a one-legged autistic child at an, uh, ass-kicking contest. Once she finds the nerve, we sit in silence. She reads Fahrenheit 451 while looking at the nerve feedback read-out. The machine attached to my leg makes a sound like a needle running around the grooves of a spent record. The white noise is soothing.

“Baseline heart rate, blood pressure and nerve activity will be recorded…your hand will then be placed in an ice water slurry for 3 minutes. After 30 minute [sic] recovery time, your blood pressure will be raised by phenylephrine for 15 minutes, then lowered by nitroprusside for 15 minutes.”

The thought of two separate medications artificially raising and lowering my natural state of being fills me with untold amounts of anxiety; said anxiety is easy to gage when my blood pressure is raised but difficult to track when it’s lowered. Regardless of my indignance, however, I remain cool as a cucumber under the influence of nitroprusside. The drug is miraculous. I wonder if it can be obtained without a prescription down Mexico way.

“Just before the study is over today, a blood pressure cuff will be positioned on your arm, and will remain on your arm for 24 hours. The cuff will inflate every 20 minutes while you are awake and every 30 minutes will [sic] you are asleep.”

A blood pressure cuff is positioned on my arm. It remains on my arm for 24 hours. Every twenty minutes while I am awake and every 30 minutes will [sic] I am asleep I am reminded of my complete and utter lack of self-respect.

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