By contributing writer Dan Zembrosky
If you have ever had any health problem that didn’t warrant a trip to the E.R. or an immediate, Dustin-Hoffman-orchestrated quarantine, chances are you have dealt with Student Health Services. At the humble 60,000 student university I attend, the student health facility consists of a pinewood shack likely built by the first medical students to dawn white lab coats within its paper-thin walls. Those brave pioneers of campus medicine took an oath that day—an oath to never renovate their slipshod creation, and to never observe any other oath a physician may be required to take.
This house of healing, this “shack in the back woods” of medicine (and backwoods of our campus) is the required starting point for any student with campus health insurance who may need medical attention. After a series of visits, students may find themselves lucky enough to cobble together enough viral and bacterial infections to out-and-out terrify or bewilder one of these House-like medical mavericks into recommending them to one of the hospitals or medical centers on campus that do not receive all of their funding from the student government.
I might have believed this “barbarian” execution of medical practice was limited only to the thickets of my campus had it not been for numerous stories I’ve heard from friends, relatives, amputee hobos, and even my own father about their university’s health center. If you find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of having contracted some type of mysterious air, blood, or goo-borne ailment you could take the time to battle blindly through Fangorn Forest in order to gain access to some ill-advised blood-letting, or you could take a look at my handy run down of the characters and places you may encounter on your dangerous quest to receive competent medical attention.
Whatever gender you are, they are not. They are exceptionally attractive, and much like God, they are either amused or disgusted by your predicament. Unless you are suffering from chronically swollen breasts, “wealthy priopism,” or a Sexually-Transmitted Genie (STG), your chances with this person are slimmer than the patients in the body-image wing (closet) of your student health center.
Whatever you do, do not try to make yourself look attractive. If you are ill, all the makeup in the world won’t cover up vomit-breath… and if you can make yourself look attractive, you are probably going to the sexual health section and are therefore way too much of a risk for such a health conscious phone jockey to go on a date with.
The fact is, you are sick—and if you aren’t, then you are a pussy. Either way, you are not going to get play, so give it up. That’s probably how you got into this situation in the first place… you whore.
The Waiting Room:
Unlike your pediatrician’s bright, colorful, cartoon-covered walls, the health center sports up to one 50 watt bulb per 100 square feet along with dark, poo-brown walls. Why poo-brown? Why not a nice umber, or sienna you ask? Because poo-brown will not stain. No matter how much urine, vomit, feces, blood, projectile vaginal fluid or smegma you hit it with, it will always looks like shit, which is clearly better than half the things on that list.
Inside this shitty room are rows of people, awkwardly positioned to sit in opposition from each other’s squishy, contaminated bodies by bolted down chairs. The only people who are not disgusted by the others in the room are those lucky enough to have passed out. The one luxury afforded to you is the array of communal tissues positioned at various tables throughout the room. Choose your tissues wisely, however, for each could contain up to ten different strains of viruses, 17 kinds of bacteria, and 23 essential vitamins.
The only other place you will find similar tissue box positioning schemes is in funeral homes.
If you had not contracted some type of seriously dangerous malady up to this point, you surely have by now. The good news is you are about to see a doctor… sort of.
The Examination Room:
Gone are the days of the crinkly-tissue-paper-covered plush cots from your childhood doctor visits. Now you have to strip down and lie on top of the coldest piece of stainless steel your ass has ever touched. The only deviation in the brushed-metal surface are a few channels that lead to a small, ammonium scented drain. You hear a scream in the distance, then laughter, then crying. Someone is flipping through TV stations in the next room. This is probably your doctor. She’ll be with you as soon as she finds something good to watch, then grows bored with it. Eventually, you will be considered a reasonable form of entertainment.
She wears a white lab coat, but you question its authenticity. She asks you questions about your symptoms in between bouts of feverish typing on her Sidekick. You don’t understand why she needs to know if you’ve been to a donkey show recently, and are downright baffled as to why she suspects you are a Pisces despite the fact your medical form clearly states you were born in November. “You just have that vibe,” she admits, before jabbing her latex encased fingers deep into the soft spot between your jaw and neck.
You expect she’ll soon reveal her true identity as Xena, Warrior Princess, and believe that she has just used her patented maneuver to cut off all blood flow to your brain in order to force you to answer any question she asks.
“Have you eaten anything out of the ordinary, lately?” she asks.
“I tried making Easy Mac with vodka!” you scream, “And just before that I got high and microwaved a bunch of CDs!”
“Was it cool?”
“It was AWESOME!!!”
Pleased with your answer, she returns the flow of blood to your brain and continues texting her BFF. She tells you to lay low for a couple of days and to call if it gets worse. This advice seems sound enough, if not for the fact that it’s the same advice she gives every student not covered in fluorescent boils or bleeding from the eyes.
You have a friend bring you some DVDs, a Gamecube, and some microwavable soup. You get ready for a few days of doctor-endorsed downtime. Unfortunately, it turns out you have Meningitis and you die before your sabbatical ends. Game over.
Not funny, huh? No shit. Your health is the most goddamned important thing you have, and it is too valuable to entrust to a bunch of apathetic dentistry school rejects who couldn’t distinguish diabetic amyotrophy from athlete’s foot and who believe every single student on campus is a paranoid hypochondriac exhibitionist booze-hound with no legitimate health problems whatsoever. If you think you have something worse than a cold you should go see a real damn doctor; it might cost the equivalent of a keg or two, but it is damn well worth it.
Your health center may be better than the one described here, but it serves you well to check with upperclassmen before putting your life in their blood-stained, unskilled hands.
Man, kind of a downer, huh? Some of the most important lessons are. But, to end on a lighter note, please enjoy the following episode of House, were he a student health services employee.
A nurse accompanies Doctor House into your examination room.
NURSE Doctor, we have a freshman here DOCTOR NURSE
complaining of a sore throat,
swollen tonsils, fever, and body
Order a full PET scan, take 3
liters of their blood, fill the
empty wine bottle in my office with
it, and put it over ice.
Doctor, we have a freshman here
The doctor hobbles into the examination room.
Taken any drugs lately? Swapped
saliva with any girls gone wild?
Taken in a donkey show, have you?
No, aside from the first two.
Funny, I would have guessed the
opposite. Take your pants off and
say the alphabet backwards.
Have you been drinking?
Damn. Freshmen usually fall for
that. Alright, I'm going to
prescribe you some antibiotic for
strep throat. You take one every
eight hours 'til the bottle is
empty. If you stop sooner, you,
your parents, and your tonsil
hockey face-off friend will die.
Aren't you required by law to test
for mononucleosis before
prescribing antibiotics for strep?
Talking will only make it worse.
Here's a Jamba Juice coupon, now
get the hell out.
This coupon expired two years ago.
You pop one pill straight away and then slowly stumble across campus to the Jamba Juice in a sweaty, delirious haze. Amidst your fruitless attempt to order an Orange DreamMachine/Coldbuster mix-up you become keenly aware of the full body rash that has erupted upon your greasy, pallid, gamer-like body. Also, your testicles explode.
You slowly regain consciousness, once again in the
examination room. House paces back and forth above you.
I didn't detect a hint of bacterial
infection in your blood, though
there was a hint of raspberry,
delicious. Anyway, this explains
your adverse reaction to the
Isn't that why you're required by
law to test for mono? Won't you get
sick from drinking people's blood?
I'm a doctor, I don't get sick.
Also, the law is for people who
aren't me. Idiots.
So what do you think?
House produces a foot-long syringe from a nearby drawer. He peers into it as if it were a pornographic kaleidoscope.
I think it’s time for a lumbar
(whispers to the syringe)
Yeah. You’re hungry, aren’t you?
Then… Then what?
Then we're going to let some of your
blood. And by some, I mean lots.
I don't think I have much blood
left, the nurse – she took so much.
That's okay, we'll put in an I.V.
of fresh blood for you.
My kidney is capable of filtering
out all antigens. You'll be good to
go as soon as I take a piss.
You're going to piss into my veins?
Yes. If I don't, you die.
I do? I thought I just had mono!
Scalpel in hand, he reaches over and slits your wrist lengthwise.
Yes, you will.
Nurses and orderlies whizz in and out of the room. House stands over you, preparing an I.V. attached to a home-breast milking device. He unzips his pants and turns on the milker.
Oh God, you're peeing into me!
This feels so gooooood.
You are peeing into my veins. There
must be laws against this!
Blah, blah, blah. How about a thank
you Doctor House for saving my
You are peeing into me, still. Your
balls just grazed my arm!
Do you shave those every day?
No. Shortly after going through
puberty I banished all pubic hair
from my body. I can do that. I'm
I'm actually starting to feel
better. You know, aside from all my
original symptoms and the gash you
put in my arm.
House jiggles around then zips his pants up.
So do I. Man, I feel ten pounds
So what do I have?
You have Mono. Take it easy for a
few weeks. You'll need lots of bed
House hobbles to the door, then stops, turning back towards you.
Oh, and thank you.
For letting me do to you what I
always wanted to do to Stacy.