Clinic: (n) a hospital department where outpatients are given medical treatment

Old Marion Webster always tends to leave out a detail or two in presenting definitions.

Clinics are not only places where people go to get medical assistance, but often find themselves frequenting due to poverty.

I’ve been to a clinic. It wasn’t because I doing research for one of my essays. No–I was busted.

Broke. Without bucks. Dollarless.

I found the experience to be humiliating–not because I thought I was better than all the other clientele. It was humiliating by design.

All the furniture was old, scarred, some pieces broken. The magazines were dated at least four years earlier, and had articles which had already proven to be incorrect. The candy machine was empty except for peanuts and Cheese-it crackers. The Coke machine was out of order and the coffee maker had a crack in it, so they could only make one cup at a time.

The nurses were volunteers who attempted to be cheery, but still conveyed a sense of yearning to get over their stint quickly and return to their normal lives.

The people around me were sick–some very sick. It made them look and act dreary.

I sat there and thought to myself, how easy it would be for people of substance and finance to just donate new magazines.

How about that church down the road which recently bought new furniture for their parlor–giving that old plush couch and chairs to this clinic so people would feel just a bit more comfortable as they sat for hours, waiting for a three-minute visit?

Would it kill the vendors to make sure that the candy machine was adequately stocked, and price it just a bit more reasonably for those who have to search longer for quarters?

How about giving them a new coffee pot, or taking up a donation to make the Cokes reappear?

I wasn’t angry over the indifference–just perplexed by the ignorance.

Now that prosperity has crept my way, I have a little extra money every once in a while that might seem like a gold mine for a clinic.

Maybe just buying flowers for the attendants to wear every day. Or if you worry that the patients might be allergic, purchase more colorful scrubs.

For some reason or another, rich people do not feel it’s enough to insult the less fortunate with mere poverty. They want to make sure the experience leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.


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dictionary with letter A

Anti-septic: (adj) of or relating to substances that prevent disease-causing micro-organisms.

They put a sign on my door.

Apparently, my condition was common enough that these signs were readily available for ordering from some medical supply house.

The sign read, “This patient is septic.”

Nurses and doctors started walking into my room wearing gloves and masks. I felt like I was in a horror flick and had unfortunately been cast in the role of “the horror.”

What they discovered was that I had an infection which had spread throughout my bloodstream, and therefore every excretion from my body, including my sweat and spit, was toxic.

It was weird.

It made me appreciate the term “anti-septic.” Because when I was anti-septic–completely against the concept–people liked me a lot more and didn’t have to bundle up like mummies to be in my presence.

They put me on a treatment and within a couple of days they were able to remove the sign and my practitioners stripped themselves of all necessary protection.

Now…without becoming too philosophical, we can be septic in many ways, including emotionally, spiritually and mentally. All “septic” really means is that we are poisonous to those around us. It would be good to engage an anti-septic at that point, don’t you think?

So when I am emotionally septic–in such a bad mood that I’m not fit to be a caretaker of snakes–I quarantine myself so as not to spew unrighteous feelings into the air to infect the general populace.

When I’m spiritually septic i spend some time thinking about how blessed I am, and then, with tears in my eyes, apologize to a generous Father in heaven, who is waiting for me to come to my senses.

And when I’m mentally septic–promoting my own prejudices instead of truth–I allow myself the grace of shutting my mouth until some healing can happen in my thoughts.

Anti-septic is a good thing. Because septic kills.

And we certainly have too much of that going around, don’t we? 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix


Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Adenoids: (n.) a mass of enlarged lymphatic tissue between the back of the nose and the throat, often hindering speaking and breathing in young children.

I was only ten years old so the significance completely evaded me.

Our family physician was named Dr. Livingston. To me it was just another name, not a literary setup, so when Dr. Livingston looked over his silver spectacles and told my mother and father that I needed to have my tonsils removed–otherwise I would have tonsillitis any time it was rumored to be in the area–they agreed.

They were further delighted when he told them that while he was in there yanking out the little boogers, that he might as well take my adenoids, too. It was common at the time. Tonsils were apparently so emotionally linked to adenoids that it was a given in the medical field that if you took one you had better remove the other, too, or fussiness would ensue.

Dr. Livingston? Tonsils and adenoids, I presume?

My father, being raised in a miserly German home, was excited because he felt he was getting two operations for the price of one.

So I was sent to a clinic in the big city twenty miles from our little burg, and was prepped for surgery. This was long before anethesia was perfected. It was actually barely beyond the phase of a shot of whiskey and a punch in the jaw.

What they used to put you under was ether. Now, let me explain what ether smells like. It has a distinctive odor. Imagine if a bottle of alcohol let off a big, stinky fart.

There you go.

So after they had removed my co-dependent organs, I awoke to the smell of this nasty “stinky” in the air, to spend the next hour-and-a-half doing nothing but trying to regurgitate all of my insides for public view.

About two hours later my stomach finally calmed down and they told me I could have some nice, cool Jello. (I had heard rumors that ice cream was the normal gift given to a patient, but apparently I ended up at K-Mart Presbyterian Municipal Hospital, where budget cuts were inserted to extract all pleasures.)

Unfortunately, the flavor they chose for my Jello was cherry.

When my mother and father wanted to go out and catch a bite to eat, they left my older brother in charge. The cherry jello by then had landed in my stomach, was introduced to the raging ether, and was immediately evicted. So when I threw up my cherry jello, my brother was convinced that I was bleeding to death. He ran through the halls screaming for nurses to come and save me.

The comical part (as if it isn’t already) was that it took the nurses at least ten minutes to figure out that what was in my bed pan had the unmistakable fragrance of Kool-aid.

Things went back to normal–if you call being ten years old, in a hospital, losing your tonsils and adenoids, vomiting profusely, with a maniac for a brother, only room for Jello and without the benefit of an ice cream confection … anywhere near normalcy.