Headlining at Zanies this Thursday: My Urine.
Please tip your server, and try the veal.

Chapter 5
Hilarious Pee

Dr. Mullen looks mystified.

“So…why are you here again?”

“Well, people at my office have been sneezing and nose-blowing and whooping-cough coughing for weeks now, and I’ve been fine,” I say.

“And you’re worried you’re about to get sick?” he says.

“No, I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with my immune system,” I say.

“But you’re not sick,” he says.

“Exactly,” I say. “I should be, don’t you think?”

Dr. Mullen gives me an are-you-serious look.

“So you’re here…in my office…because you’re not sick,” he says.

“Correct,” I say.

Dr. Mullen eyes me, dumbstruck. Then he looks at my shirt. “Do you have a hidden camera on you or something?” he says. “Am I on Candid Camera?”

“Nope,” I say.

Dr. Mullen stares a little longer, then opens a manila folder “Well, Douglas, I’d say this visit takes the cake for hypochondria,” he scans the folder contents. “Two months ago, you were in here because…”

“My pee smelled funny,” I say.

“Right,” Dr. Mullen recalls. “And I asked you ‘How funny?’ and you said ‘Hilarious.’”

“I know I joked with you, but I could have had an infection,” I say.

“Yes, you could have…but you didn’t. You just have smelly pee,” Dr. Mullen says, returning to the folder. “Two months before that, you were here because you would wake up with tingling in your arm. We determined that to be…”

“My arm was asleep,” I say.

“Right,” Dr. Mullen says, slapping the folder closed. “But I must say, this visit puts the others to shame. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to take money from you and your insurance company, but really, don’t you have better things to do than come and visit me?”

At that moment, a guy opens the office door. I think I recognize him.

“I have to agree with the doctor on this one,” he says.

Dr. Mullen looks at me.

“New support group?” he says.


Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
Chapter 2: Two e-mails
Chapter 3: Pattern
Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
Chapter 6: Suicide
Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers


Bonus this-chapter-was too-short discussion material (even though I owe you nothing - and on a Sunday no less):

A couple of weeks ago, a story came out that a man has been 'functionally cured' of HIV. I wanted to do a post at the time declaring something to the effect of "Newsflash: Magic Johnson doesn't exist," essentially discussing that a man has already been "functionally cured" of HIV, and his name is Magic Johnson. However, my poking around the Web turned up nothing to indicate Magic is cured of anything, so I dropped the notion, not wanting to write about such a significant subject without firm knowledge. I know what you'd reply: "But ET, [insert hated columnist name here] does that every day!" It would be funny, but would not justify my trying to sift through an HIV piece with a blindfold ... and still, I feel there are some significant items from my personal experience with this subject that still make Magic's situation that much more mysterious to me today:

- I remember in college, when the announcement was made, having to avoid talking about Magic in the past tense, like he was already dead. We know now that a person can live decades with HIV, and medicine has advanced greatly, but if anyone at the time had said to me "Guess what? Magic will be commentating with JB and Wilbon in the 2011 NBA Finals and nobody is going to ask him 'Hey Magic, how are you even here?'", I'd have called you insane. Think back to where you were, what you thought, at that time about Magic and his plight, and think about today. Is it...a miracle? Is it...a simple discrepancy between the medical treatment the rich and famous get and that which "normal" people receive? Is it...Area 51 - Fake moon landing - JFK cover up conspiracy? Is it the best medical treatment, and...a good diet, exercise, and attitude, as ESPN indicated 10 years after Magic's HIV announcement?

- I recall, but couldn't find, an interview where Magic said there was "no sign of the HIV virus" in his body. This interview made me readjust everything I thought about Magic's situation - was he no longer sick? how ignorant am I / we about HIV? And more recently, thinking "why is Timothy Ray Brown considered the first man to be 'functionally cured' of HIV, when Magic roams amongst us with a giant, healthy smile?"

To me, the biggest mystery is not that Magic is still alive and well, but our curious evolving reaction, or non-reaction, to that fact...where we have reached a point that Magic is not even mentioned in an article that discusses a person who has been functionally cured of HIV, or that Magic is not asked "How you feeling?" by anyone unless they think he's got a cold.

I hope Magic lives a long, healthy life, but I am still mystified by the enormous discrepancy between where he was 20 years ago, and where he is today.


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Blogger Dan said...
I thought Magic was cured as well, but he's taking the anti-retroviral drugs that were mentioned in that article.

Here is an article about Magic that explains what he's doing. The money quote: "Johnson says he's anything but cured. He says he owes his well-being — and quite possibly his life — to the multidrug cocktail he takes everyday."

Blogger Wormboy said...
Yeah, what Dan says. The drug cocktail is actually pretty amazing, but it ain't "cured." Magic and everybody else on the cocktail have a shorter life expectancy because of the side-effects. Plus, if they screw up taking the pills the disease could resurface, and potentially develop resistance to the drugs, in which case they die.

But it is still a medical success story. System being cleared of HIV means that those people are probably not infectious (though let me ask you this: would you have unprotected sex with somebody whose "system was clear" of HIV? Yeah, me neither). Treatments are great, even if they aren't cures.

As for the man who was "cured," the treatment was pretty straightforward. We've long known that there was a group of people immune to HIV because they are homozygous mutants for a protein that HIV uses to enter immune cells. So, if you nuke the immune system of somebody who is HIV positive (say, because they have leukemia), then give them a bone marrow transplantation from somebody who lacks the receptor, bingo, no HIV infection. The virus can't enter immune cells, there's no reservoir in the body, no viral infection. We THINK.

Pretty cool.

Blogger zyth said...
Given, of course, the transplant isn't rejected. Actually, the true problem isn't HIV, it's AIDS. You can pretty much halt the progress of HIV with a giant medicine bomb, but it's very,very costly...so yeah, money runs the world.

@Wormboy : good point with the sex argument. The same is for herpes. Sure, you can heal HSV-2 completely with aciclovir, but HSV-1 stays latent for the rest of your life. And i'm sure as hell not risking a boil. Sadly, sex-ed is pretty bogus around the world. I've a friend from Scotland and free condoms are a commodity up there, due to planned parenthood clinics, but there are a lot of underage mothers in the UK.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
I'm in the same boat as ET. I thought he was a dead man walking the moment he announced that he had the HIV. I mean, that diagnosis was considered a death sentence at the time.

Then he went back to play basketball and it was still a topic of discussion; mostly because Johnson was trying to promote HIV awareness, not because others were bringing it up in the media.

Some years later one of my brothers turned to me during a Magic Johnson commentary-thing and said: "Did everyone just forget Magic Johnson has HIV?"

And you have to wonder: has this guy really not had sex for 20 years? Apparently he was something of a man-whore in his youth. Did he just totally turn that off? CAN you turn that off?

Anonymous Tripledubs said...
I guess he really does have a Magic Johnson.

Blogger Wormboy said...
Tripledubs: Yes, best unintentional porn name EVER.

I assume he has protected sex. Sex with condoms is possible, you know. ;)

@Zyth: not sure about bone marrow transplants, but kidney transplant are very rarely rejected these days. I should know, I have one. If I had to guess, I'd predict hematopoietic cells would be more immunogenic.

Anonymous JJ said...
Tripledubs - Magic Johnson only assists when he wants to. LOL.

Wormboy - Isn't he supposed to be dead without the drug cocktails? So, technically, I think they're not giving him a "shorter" life expectancy. I'm pretty amazed he's still alive and looking really, really healthy.

AK Dave - WOW!!! Has it been 20 years since Magic Johnson news already? I too remember thinking back then he'll probably die within a few years, or that's how everyone made it sound. I had been wondering about him every time I see him on TV though. He looks healthier than many other disease-free people that I know! And also, I've been wondering about the sex thing too! I can't imagine he didn't have sex all this time. I mean I feel like even when he "entertains" himself, he would need to throw away the tissue in a biohazard bag. Money sure takes care of a lot of life's problems.

Blogger Wormboy said...
@JJ: distinction noted. It definitely falls into the "better than the alternative" category. Though I have heard of men on the cocktail who have had heart attacks in their 30s. The side-effects of potent long-term pharmaceutical use can be fairly brutal.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
He's probably having sex with his wife, who'd also be able to get access to his drug cocktail if she became infected. They adopted a second kid back in like 1995 as well.

Blogger The Nightbringer said...
The Magic Johnson story is one of mystery and intrigue. I was too young when he made the announcement that he had contracted the virus, but my dad being a huge Laker fan since the West days was utterly devastated.

And yet, here we are today, with Magic smiling, doing those silly casino commercials (It's local so a lot of eastern folk probably don't see them..) and once-in-a-while hosting his Midsummer's Night Magic events.

Like Wormboy said though, one slip-up could probably allow the virus to come back with a vengeance. But to be able to keep the virus in remission for two decades is quite a feat.

And for those who are curious,

San Manwell!

Blogger Wormboy said...
Ot, you know, they use a condom....

Then again, his wife may also be HIV positive. Magic was probably sexing her regularly when he became contagious.....

Or, he just does it with HIV+ partners. Not hard to find them. People advertise as such in classifieds

Blogger Japes said...
Damn, just reminded me of the fact that we missed out on a few more years of Magic. He was still pretty damn good when he retired. Might have been more wars against Jordan and the Bulls in the early 90s. Sad...

With that said, it is kinda weird that no one talks about his remarkable success story in terms of battling HIV all these years.

I thought Magic does not have AIDS but he is just carrier of the HIVirus in his blood stream. In order to turn it into AIDS HIVirus should start residing in the white blood cells.