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I paid a visit to the Infusion Unit at the Hospital for Special Surgery yesterday. Last Friday, my shoulders started to ache very badly, even when I was in bed, and I had a time of it reaching for kitchen things on high shelves that ordinarily pose no problem. I felt depleted, too. Not tired, but out of juice. I knew the signs, and concluded that I have yet to catch up with the missed month in March. Trying to make it until my scheduled infusion on the 30th would be stupid as well as miserable - a waste of the better part of a month. So I called the rheumatologist on Monday and of course he was on vacation and of course I didn't find out for sure until yesterday, but I did score an appointment for 11:30 this morning.

It went very smoothly. I took a Xanax before I left the apartment, and whether it was that that kept my blood pressure nice and low (for me) throughout the drip, I don't know, but I plan to stick with it. By the end of the infusion, my shoulders were already feeling better than they'd done yesterday morning. Something interesting did, or did almost, happen. Now, as a rule, doctors do not make frequent appearances in the Infusion Unit. There's not supposed to be a need. But yesterday there was, or were. Four doctors paid visits to their patients - one of whom had an EKG behind hastily-drawn curtains (but there turned out to be nothing wrong with the lady's heart) - and one of the other visiting physicians, the one who attended the lady sitting closest to me (and, yes, I was the only man, as usual), one of them was the doctor whom I left when he got rigid about (then more experimental) Remicade. Actually, that was on the phone; it was his staff's telling me that a face-to-face discussion couldn't be scheduled for less then six weeks that sent me packing to good Dr Magid.

Dr X must have seen me the moment he strode into the room, because there I was, right in front of him, a readily recognizable hulk. That would have explained his peculiarly pained expression as he came into my view. Keeping his back to me, he said a few nothings to his patient and then told her that he would be back "later." Which certainly made me feel better. She didn't seem to mind.

I took along Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul, but I ended up sticking with the current New Yorker, fascinated (at least by the non-birding parts) by Jonathan Franzen's essay about - many things. I also read Ken Auletta's piece about the three network morning shows. To anyone who's addicted to these productions, let me just promise that if you can stay away from them for two months - watch Laurel and Hardy! Listen to NPR! - you will see how empty and deleterious they are. It's when television cuddles up to "the news" that it becomes most perfidiously false.


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