3/2/2023 16:50

The Commiserationist

I think I am going to call my doctor's office to ask whether they have a certified commiserationist on staff. If they do I want an appointment.

When I was young our family went to Dr. Kuhs for medical services. "Physician and Surgeon" read the letters on his office window in the Minahan Building and he did both prescribe medicines and peform operations. Looking back, however, my mother once remarked that she did not think Dr. Kuhs provided much treatment. Most often, she said, you came in with your symptoms and he talked with you and then you felt better. (Dr. Kuhs afterward left general practice -- I think to specialize in psychiatry.)

Just now I have a plethora of symptoms which in the aggregate would be consistent with any number of life-threatening conditions. Acid reflux! Belly pain! Leg cramps! Back spasms! Excretory upsets the specific nature of which I shall omit! In actual reality there is likely nothing as seriously wrong as my overstressed imagination raises up: No cancers, no necrotic bacterial infections, no inadvertent environmental poisonings. I probably do not need drugs or surgery, just a modern version of Dr. Kuhs talking to me and making me feel better.

I have had this suspicion for some time. It is not only because I have had similar symptoms before and in the end was never diagnosibly diseased. (Past hypochrondriasis is no proof against future fatality.)

It is also because I had a revelatory dream. Perhaps in actual reality I should call it a "relevatory" dream because rather than reveal some great mystery this dream mostly pointed to relations among aspects of my recent life. In the dream I accompanied my parents (themselves gone over 15 years) to my old house -- not the one I moved out of last fall but the one I was born into, the one my parents sold half a century ago. They went inside to deal with minor maintenance in the interior while I took my dog around the back yard from the bedroom windows to the edge of the garden.

(There at the edge of the garden we met a man I did not know, the potential subject for some future revelation.)

If my doctor really had a commiserationist on staff, and if I made an appointment for tomorrow (not today because we are expecting sleet and snow and freezing rain today), I am sure she would listen to my complaints and talk with me and say, "Could the stress of your recent move to a new house be a part of your current experience?" And as a commiserationist she would not offer any specific treatment but even so I would leave feeling better.

Better, anyway, than if I saw the doctor and all he said was, "You are healthy. There is nothing wrong with you."