On Home Medicine

So, you need a brain scan…

You may be told that seeing a neurologist will take a long time, but there is another way to get your treatment. You need an EEG, but they can now give you one of those at home. You think, not for the first time, what a time to be alive.

The technician will be an hour late. This, he will say, was because the GPS took him to an entirely different apartment complex, where he got lost, before taking him to the correct complex…where he also got lost. This will be reasonable as he’s only been in Austin for six months, and navigating Austin roads will eventually bite you, no matter how long you’ve been here. But especially if you’re a GPS satellite or a recent immigrant.

The technician’s soft Caribbean accent will make whatever information or instructions he gives you seem about 23% less awful. It will, however, drive your dogs mad…every time he speaks, the dogs will shout back at him angrily. This will make him speak less and less, and more and more softly.

First, he will attach the electrodes to your scalp. He will do this like a hairdresser creating an especially complex style for you. As he works, you will discuss the Caribbean islands, cricket, and Austin roads. This whole process will take too long.


Once he’s done, he’ll wrap up the top of your head with a bandage, giving you an Egyptian-mummy-turban, and he will tell you to rest, so you sit and close your eyes as the electrodes begin their first reading of your brain.

The technician will wander around your apartment. He’ll set up a video camera pointing at your bed. If you want privacy, he’ll tell you, you can cover the camera. But not for long. Neither one of you will talk about this issue again.


He will point a second video camera at the chair you sit in to watch TV. He will assure you, if that’s the word, that the cameras will not record sound. You will wonder whether to believe him, despite the positive feelings you have toward his accent.


The output of both cameras will be visible on a laptop he sets up in the bedroom. In this way, you can spy on the living room from your bed. This will be oddly exciting at first, but will become boring very quickly.


He will attach a heart monitor to your chest, then connect it to a battery pack that you will carry around like a puppy in a bag by your side for the whole weekend, and then he’ll remind you that you can’t shower (and you will think, Duh) and should avoid doing anything to make you sweat for the next 72 hours. In Texas. In the summer. You will turn the AC up but there’s no way it’s going to do miracles. In fact, the burden of expectation may be too much – the temperature will never get below 72 for the entire weekend.

With everything attached, wrapped, and plugged in, the technician will shake your hand and promise to be back at 9am Monday morning. He will leave and you will be left to be silently monitored for a weekend, confined to your apartment.

But, after 72 hours, you will know two things: you can handle long periods of being under house arrest; a shower is the greatest thing in the world.

And it will be weeks later that a letter arrives telling you the whole treatment was “out of network” and it will give a dollar amount that makes your newly approved brain spin.

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