Intersections Of Alternate Universes
Young Man: "I have a rash on my arm. It comes and goes and it won't go away."
Our Heroine: "I see. Does it hurt or itch? How long has it been like that?" (Etc, etc, many in-depth questions about the rash and the young man's life, career, and other assorted necessary questions.)
Our Heroine then proceeds to examine the rash, which looks like a classic spot of eczema (aka: atopic dermatitis). She is thorough in her exam and then sits down explaining eczema and its treatment and the expected time frame of outcome. She hands YM a prescription for the appropriate cream to treat it and discusses moisturizing. She then asks if there are any other concerns.
YM: "See, that's not it. I drank some hot tea from Fastfoodplace a few days ago and it didn't taste right. I got a bacterial infection from it and now it's in my blood and my body and coming out through my skin. I need a strong antibiotic for it."
OH: "Oh. OK. Let's talk about bacterial infections in the blood and skin and what you see with them." She then proceeds to briefly discuss this so YM can understand that the patch of eczema on his arm that waxes and wanes is in no way caused by bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) or its related conditions. She is not laughing nor joking.
YM (angrily): "Well, I see I will have to go all the way to Milwaukee to get competent medical care. This is from the bacterial infection I got from the tea. Just give me the antibiotic. I heard you were a good doctor and you clearly are not. I don't deserve to be laughed at. I deserve proper medical care."
OH (very calmly): "Well, it's certainly your right to go where you choose for your medical care and I'm sorry you feel that you are not being taken seriously. I take all the patients I see very seriously and give the best care I am able to. I realize that you disagree with me, but your rash does not require antibiotics."
YM (now frustrated and very angry): "How can you say that? You didn't even test me for infection. I want a urine test to show the bacterial infection in my body. You didn't even do a urine test! I want proper medical care, not some incompetent to sit there and laugh at me!"
OH (completely bewildered but trying to remain calm): "I can see that you're upset, but I can't treat you with something for which you have no medical indication. None of your symptoms fit with a urine or any other infection. Treating you with an antibiotic would not only not help you but would be potentially harmful and I'm not going to risk hurting you."
YM: "Well, I'm going to Chicago to see a real doctor, who'll treat me seriously!"
OH: "That's certainly your right. I'm sorry you feel that way. Good day."
Exit Our Heroine.
It is then that she realizes what has happened. It's the only explanation that fits. In that very small and unassuming exam room, there was an intersection of two alternate universes. In one were our two beings. In the other, were a person with necrotizing fasciitis or perhaps staph scalded skin syndrome appalled that the physician was trying to treat him with multiple broad spectrum antibiotics and possibly wide debridement (the cutting away of all potentially damaged tissue, to the point of removing healthy tissue so as not to miss any infection--very disfiguring in general) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for what they felt was only a mild case of eczema. Horrifying, indeed. I hope the bad outcome is averted.
In my case, the only bad outcome was that YM stood at the desk and amazed our front and back office staff by first demanding and then filling out a complaint form about me and my substandard medical care. (An aside: Apparently the rules of grammar and spelling are only minimally similar to those of our reality.) After he left, I couldn't help chuckling a bit over the vagaries of the space-time continuum. After all, this was the first time that I knew of that a complaint was lodged against me for my personal care. For better or worse, I'm known as 'that nice doctor, who really listens'. I may not be that good, but, dammit, they can't accuse me of not seeming to care.
While I truly wish I'd been able to make the young man from the alternate universe understand what and why I was treating as I was, it was cool in a way.
Not every day this happens.
(Oh! And the next day, we found that he'd gone and filled the prescription for the cream. We knew this because the pharmacy called and said that his insurance wouldn't cover what I'd chosen and I needed to substitute a different cream. I'll take that to mean that the kink in our respective universes shook itself out and that the poor young man with the life threatening systemic bacterial illness is now recovering nicely with all the antibiotic therapy his reality can give, while the young man with the mild eczema, now back in his own plane, is rapidly improving under the appropriate cream, having avoided horrific and unnecessary therapies for his annoying but benign condition.)
Here's to all being right with the worlds and the universes being in their own spaces. I'll also be extra careful of where I stand in Exam Room #2. You never know when that may happen, again.
Note: Of course, most of the details of this tale were changed. I'm not a complete idiot, just a partial one. The substance remains unaltered.)