But It Worked! --Nerve Pills


S.Q. Lapius tore the sheet from the typewriter and handed it to me.  “Here Harry, a patient interview.”  Lapius would do this on occasion, reconstruct encounters he had had during the day that he thought might prove of subsequent interest.  I started reading.


“May I help you?”


“That’s why I’m here.”


“What seems to be the trouble?”


“I have a pain in my chest.  It radiates to my back.”


“You seem very nervous.”


“Of course I’m nervous.  I don’t like doctors.”


“How long have you been nervous?”


“All my life.”


“I guess you were delivered by a doctor.”


“I guess so.”


“You are fidgeting a lot.  Do you always do that?”


“Only since my divorce.”


“How long have you been divorced?”


“Three years.”


“Did you get divorced because you were so nervous?  I mean did that contribute to the discord in your home?”


“Possibly.  Could we hurry up?  My husband is waiting for me.” 


“The husband you just divorced?”


“No, my new husband.”


“Well, of course we can.”


“My other doctor said the pain was due to pleurisy.”


“I am inclined to think that this pain is due to a muscle spasm.”


“My other doctor had me in the hospital for three weeks for pleurisy.”


“Possibly you had pleurisy then.”


“Why would he hospitalize me for muscle spasm.”


“I didn’t say he hospitalized you for muscle spasm.  I said that the present pain seems to be a muscle spasm.”


“But it feels like the same pain.”           


“What would you like me to do?”


“Treat the pain.”


“I will treat you for muscle spasm.”


“Why don’t you just give me the same pills my other doctor gave me?”


“What were they?”


“Nerve pills.”


“He gave you nerve pills for pleurisy?”


“No.  But they worked.  I think that you ought to treat me the way he treated me.  It worked.”           


“Why don’t you go back to your other doctor?  He seems to know the case.”


“He is too far away.  We moved.”


“I will be glad to renew the prescription you have.”


“Okay.  But why do you disagree with my doctor?  He was one of the biggest doctors in town.”           


“How tall was he?”


“About 5’10”.”


“I am a bigger doctor than he.  I measure over six feet tall.”


“I mean he was very smart.  Why would he say I have pleurisy if I have a muscle spasm?”


“I don’t know why he said that.  Would you like me to treat you?”


“For what?”


“For the pain in your chest.”


“Okay.  But I want to be treated for pleurisy, not for muscle spasm.”


“Well, suppose for a day or so I just treat you with his tranquilizers?  Then we will see how you feel.”


“But he didn’t give me tranquilizers.  He gave me nerve pills.”


“Well, nerve pills is another name for tranquilizers.”


“But I don’t need tranquilizers.  I have pain in my chest.”


“I’ll be glad to try to help you but I really don’t know where to begin.”


“How is it that you doctors all disagree on the same things all the time?  Why can’t I get the same answers for my pain?  Why do you doctors all tell me something different?”


“I don’t know why doctors say one thing or another to you, my dear.  Incidentally, do you have a sample of the nerve pills your doctor gave you?”


“Sure I have.  Right here in my purse.”


“Might I see one of them?”


“Sure, here.  Hey, what are you doing?  They are my nerve pills.  You just popped two of them into your mouth.”


“Yes I did, didn’t I?”