Tang, Heal Thyself!

Suzanne Blais is still watching the air rifle competition, but her favorite sport is tonsil hockey. E-mail her at [email protected]

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Achoo! Oh, please, dear God. No. Do not let me be getting sick, not with midterms looming and ... Oh no - I'll have to go to the Bad Place. The place where you go in with the sniffles and come out feeling like a pair of cheap pantihose - used and abused. That Band-Aid-colored building with a name as misleading as Sproul's "Student Services." A place where many of the ill have ventured but few have come out actually cured. Dum da-Dum dum ... The Tang Student Health Center. Note - Suzanne was later found rocking in the fetal position, but she's better now, thanks.

I don't know what is worse about getting sick while you're at school - actually being sick or having to journey down to the Tang Center to attempt to weasel some medication out of the place. (Or, God forbid, actually be diagnosed.)

My favorite story about Tang concerns my virgin voyage with what was probably one of those nasty flu/cold-like things that spread through dorms and prisons like wildfire. What can I say, I was young and foolish and thought they could help me. After three hours, a nurse poked and prodded my elbow, bellybutton and other important areas, then of course asked me if I could be pregnant or have herpes. (Wait, there's more.) She then turns to me and says, "Well, darlin', what do you think you have?" Well, lady, that's kind of why I'm here. Oh Christ, did I mistakenly go to a hair salon instead of University Health Services? Damn, I hate it when I do that!

Every time you go to Tang, you come out prescribed something you have never heard of, the label for it is written in Swahili and it has only been tested on rats. However, you do know each pill knocks you flat on your ass. (And it's extra fun after a beer or two. Just kidding. Don't try this at home.) I'm pretty sure it's the university's attempt to quiet us down in the face of a potential uproar over the extreme lack of sufficient campus health care. "Uh, yeah, just keep the kids sedated. That'll work. And check them for STDs as often as you can. Dirty monkeys!"

My female friends and I still don't understand the phenomenon that no matter what symptoms you present the practitioners at Tang with, they always think you have a bun in the oven or the clap. My Mormon friend went in with a cold, and after having convinced Nurse Nitwit that she wasn't sexually active, was then asked if she snorted cocaine. I kid you not. Well, one's nose is likely to be inflamed if they are blowing it 187 times a day! Who's really snortin' crack here?

I'll give this to those who reign over University Health Services - the services are pretty cheap. But, as with vodka, you get what you pay for. I'd pay more if I could just get better. I know people who have had to fly home to get proper medical care. My entire freshman year, I would go in and complain of thirst, lethargy and lightheadedness leading to blackouts - symptoms classically indicative of diabetes. But those whizzes at Tang let it slip on by. People, they've been diagnosing diabetes since 1500 B.C. Egypt!

Upon check-in at Cal, students should receive a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and that Milton Bradley board game "Operation" so as to locate sufficiently their major organs along with a note that says, "Don't get sick, Mr. 29986498. Or else that anal-probing physics midterm will look like a walk in the park. I'll be watching you. Sincerely, Bob. Go Bears." Or at least a big bottle of Purell to bathe oneself in because, really, what are we all picking up down on Telegraph Avenue, besides drugs? I think it would be a miracle to graduate from this school without testing positive for tuberculosis.

At least they could get physicians good-looking enough to be worthy of being put in my man-stable. "Oh yes, Julio, I do have some pain in my upper thigh. Why don't you just hop on over here and check it out, you stallion, you!" I wouldn't care if I were cured or not. Lads, I'm not forgetting about you. Thigh-highs and those kinky little nurses' hats would be mandatory attire. "Why yes, come to think of it, I may indeed have a hernia ..." At my University Health Services, we'd make Bob Berdahl wear a big ol' pink bunny suit while walking around giving out lollipops. And the sicker you are, the more tokens you receive to play a giant game of "The Price is Right" Plinko, where you could win some new golf clubs or beautiful paintings of clowns. "Malaria? You've just won the opportunity to win a neeew motor home!" Public floggings would ensue for a misdiagnosis or not enough sympathy - "I have a nine-page paper on Marx due tomorrow. I want some sympathy, Nurse Ratched! Blowing chunks every hour on the hour is not my idea of a 'good time'!" And any malady caused by drinking (i.e. sliced fist after putting it through a window) would entail a whistle being blown and a herd of midgets making you take yet another shot of tequila until you get up and walk into a wall.

My friend Stan, a connoisseur of "the marijuana," proposes "alternative healing" for common health maladies such as nausea from dorm food. He proposes a big circus tent be erected on Memorial Glade complete with an eight-foot bong or hookah. If the Den Master, a guy dressed like Bob Marley, decides a bowl is all you need to get back on the road to health and happiness, then he'll order one right up and send you on your way to class. Stan also thinks we should employ Telegraph residents as rickshaw drivers. Stan's a little "off."

So, a word to the wise - don't get sick! Do everything within your power to fend off germs. And if you do come to class with a cold, please have the courtesy not to drip on my notebook.

Achoo! Let the bloodletting begin.


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