Hopper and the Trains

photo credit

Lionel Hopper is famous.

According to him anyway.


When I first entered the exam room, I was greeted by the musty, unmistakable smell of abandoned hygiene. On the exam table sat a new patient named Hopper. He was the doppelganger of Doc on Back to the Future, except Hopper's carefree hair wasn't white, but the color of a faded tangerine and he had thick sideburns flanking a face that looked like it housed a lot of stories.

Hopper got straight to the point. He wanted Dilaudid, a narcotic pain medicine for his back pain of 30 years.

Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: It is our policy that we do not prescribe narcotics for long-term pain.

Hopper: So what am I supposed to do?

Me: What have you been doing?

Hopper: Drinking beer.

Me: How much beer you drinking?

Hopper: Sometimes 1 or 2 beers a day, or sometimes 20-30 cases of beer a day.

Me: 20 or 30 CASES?? (placing huge emphasis on the word cases)

Hopper: You bet....whatever it takes. I've been all over and can't get a doctor to give me some of that medicine.

Me: You've been all over this city?

Hopper: All over this country. I'm FAMOUS!

Me: Really...what are you famous for?

Hopper: Hoppin' trains. I'm a train hopper!!

He said this with a mix of disgust (that I didn't recognize his fame) and pride (as if train hopping were the equivalent of winning the Nobel Prize).

Hopper: I've been surviving on the streets for 30 years.

Me: I could prescribe you some Naproxen.

Hopper: I can't afford that.

Me: But you can afford Dilaudid?

Hopper: Yep. It's the only thing I can afford.

(Along with 20 cases of beer, I thought....)

Me: Would you like a Toradol shot right now to help with the pain?

Hopper: No way. I'm allergic to needles.

Me: You are allergic to needles? (placing emphasis on needles....)

Hopper: Yep, one time they gave me a TB shot and my arm swelled up to here (spreading his fingers about 5" high from his arm).

Me: That means you were having a reaction to the medicine, which means you could have tuberculosis.

Hopper: Nope. It's those damn needles.

After we finished the visit, the nurse walked by as Hopper was walking down the hallway toward the exit. She heard him muffle under his breath,

"I'm never coming to this clinic again...."


You win some. You lose some.


LGH said...

Absolutely delightful writing. I could just picture this guy in my mind. I felt sorry for him, of course. WOW, you tell some unique stories, for sure!

Missy B. said...

You win some, you win some. Sounds like many of my patients in rural NV and WY. Our society is pervasively customer-oriented and fully of entitlement. I'm sure you are thankful he is "never coming [back]" to you your clinic again.

LoriPhdinme said...

Your story of “Hopper” made me visualize an errant, loud, Scotsman with mutton chops stinking of the stinking sheep and the peat on the highland moors after no bathing all the fall, winter, and spring long. He ended up once in the orient and so was, therefore, hooked on the dreaded opiates. He drank all manner of mead and peaty whiskey to quell the demons of the lurid vapors to no avail. He traveled far and wide seeking the red herring of relief. He used all manner of tall tales of woe to lure caregivers to be his caretaker of visions. This was the tapestry of Tartan you wove that allowed me to envision him. In the end, he was just neglectful addict kicking rocks because his quest for a high had been denied and you were left with the reality of his presence and smell to make better in verse. Well done; again, Ms. Fish.

KRose said...

Jen - you are such a great writer, I so enjoy reading everything you write.

And so is LoriPhdinme....great comment!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...