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Fish or Cut Bait

Don't Mess with Texas
By Bob Ciminel


April 03, 2006

I visited the charming town of Bay City, Texas earlier last month. Located on the eastern shore of the Colorado River, about 45 minutes southwest of Houston, Bay City is noted for its beautiful horses and fast women.

While ensconced in a ground floor room next to the elevator at the world renowned Holiday Inn Express on State Route 60, I was bitten on the right ear lobe by some denizen of the night. I suspect it was of the eight-legged variety. Other than an irritating itch, it was a non-event. Until two days later, that is.

gif Medical Oops...

A medical oops
Larry Wright, The Detroit News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

I was bitten on a Thursday night; by Saturday morning my right ear lobe was about three times larger than the left and the lymph nodes on the right side of my face were swollen. The wife and I were on our way to the North Georgia Mountains to celebrate our 35th anniversary, but I made a detour to the local emergency room as we arrived at our destination.

The nurse who took down my information - they call it triage - never looked at my ear, and spent the entire time with her back turned toward me typing into a computer. Her comment that this was all new to her - the computer, I hoped - didn't raise my confidence. As things turned out, I was right to be concerned.

Three hours later, I got to see a doctor - the emergency room staff didn't know I was in the waiting room because my name was misspelled. In fact, it was unpronounceable. Even though I spelled my name phonetically to the admitting nurse, she still got it wrong.
It went something like this: "My last name is CIMINEL, CI, M, as in Mike, I, N, as in November, EL."

The doctor poked, prodded, and squeezed my ear; felt my throat; and pronounced that I had an infection in my right ear lobe. What a coincidence! That's exactly what I told the nurse and wrote down on my admittance form when I registered. The doctor wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic and a pain killer, and sent me on my way.

Things did not improve over the weekend. The ear stayed swollen and the lymph glands got larger. By Monday night, I couldn't sleep because of pain shooting up my neck. I kept taking the pain pills, but they had no effect, so I doubled the dosage, but still had no relief. I was reaching for my bottle of Scotch when I remembered that I wasn't supposed to mix alcohol with either the antibiotic or the pain medication. Rats!

I would not refer to Scotch as "alcohol" because that cheapens it. Nobody drinks Scotch for its alcohol content, which is why they make "Everclear" 190-proof in pint bottles. No, Scotch is a refreshing drink that also has medicinal properties. I call it a "two-for." First, alcohol is a depressant that dulls the senses. Second, if you drink enough of it you don't care about pain.

When we arrived back in Atlanta on Tuesday, I went straight to the local urgent care center to see another doctor. I love urgent care centers; it's like having your family doctor with you where ever you go. In fact, when specialists ask me for the name of my family doctor, I give them the name of the most recent urgent care center I visited. Another plus for urgent care centers; I don't have to fork over the $20 co-pay required by my insurance company when I visit a doctor's office. Hey, just doing my part to keep healthcare costs under control and help the economy.

Anyway, Doctor No. 2 re-confirmed that I had a bad infection and prescribed a more powerful antibiotic and a narcotic-based pain killer. Now we're talking! I asked him what caused the infection and he gave me the most truthful answer I've ever received from anyone in the medical profession. He said, "I don't know." His point being, it was immaterial who or what bit me on the ear, or whether it was a spider or a mosquito, or one of those fast ladies from Bay City, which it was not. I had an infection and it had to be treated quickly or I'd end up in the hospital on an IV drip.

The new antibiotic is working quite well. My ear lobe is almost back to normal and I can bear the pain in my lymph glands enough to spend an almost productive day at work. I take the pain killer when I'm home, and only when in dire need. Otherwise, two fingers of Scotch work quite well, and I can rub the ice cubes on my ear after I drink the Scotch.

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Fish or Cut Bait by Bob Ciminel

Bob Ciminel's articles may include satire and parody, and mix fact with fiction.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

Bob lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.  He is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

Contact Bob at


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All Rights Reserved

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Ketchikan, Alaska