After that unfortunate incident which occurred at my sleep study two years ago (see previous post), and my subsequent purchase and use of a C-PAP machine to help me sleep at night, I cancelled my recommended follow-up visit. I did not want to repeat that fiasco.

My doctor was not happy and insisted that I schedule another study. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that my insurance now refused to cover it. I was told that I had to do the study on my own at home. At first I was thrilled that I did not have to stay over at the hospital and could sleep in my own bed instead.

I picked up the equipment and got a 15-minute lesson in how to hook up the equipment at home. I was sent home with a kit including a monitor and many yards of color coded wires. Three elastic belts were to be wrapped around my body. Also included were two sets of wires to put in my nose. I was given a laminated chart of what goes where.

I was also told that if I failed to return every piece of the equipment, I would be billed $3500.

It was way more complicated than I expected. It took a half hour just to hook myself up. I still was not sure what went where. Since when do we have to be our own medical technicians? Are we even capable?

The Associated Press once reported the story of an airline passenger who suffered a collapsed lung. He was saved by the heroic actions of a British surgeon who happened to be on board, in midair, using the only tools available: a coat hanger, a table knife, and a fork sterilized in brandy.

I am wondering if the solution to the skyrocketing costs of health care is in eliminating some of the trappings of modern medicine. Who needs a decade of medical school and operating rooms equipped with millions of dollars worth of specialized equipment? If a life in mortal trauma can be saved using a coat hanger, a table knife, and a fork, maybe we CAN do it ourselves.

I have come up with a plan. In lieu of medical school, I have memorized every episode of every medical drama on TV since 1970. I have equipped myself with a collection of do-it-yourself surgical tools consisting of the following, packed into a flowered pillowcase: jumper cables, WD40, duct tape, pvc pipe, a pocket knife, a plumber’s snake, Draino, and a glue gun. These should enable me to handle any medical emergency.

Recently, while dining out, I witnessed a woman suffering a massive coronary. Springing into action, I performed emergency surgery in which, using the tools from my pillowcase, I replaced her faulty heart with the rebuilt fuel pump from a 1976 Chevy Nova. She survived, but she now has an unfortunate tendency to emit billowing clouds of smoke from her “tailpipe.”

Based on my newfound experience as a do-it-yourself surgeon, I am working on an article entitled, “Removing Your Own Appendix Using Common Kitchen Implements.” I believe this will be of great interest to the American Medical Association.

Now if you will excuse me, one of my co-workers appears to be suffering from an impacted colon. Now where did I put that plumber’s snake?

P.S. I just got a call from the sleep clinic. They said that my at-home sleep study was “inconclusive,” and I have to do another at the hospital anyway. This time, I am not leaving the building for ANY reason!

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