HOUSTON, TX. BRANDON’S TEACHING HOSPITAL: I go to Dr. Teatree’s office, where it all started. He told me how it all went down and I re-create the scene.
“Rectum?” reads Dr. Teatree. “Light enters the pupil and falls on the rectum? They must mean ‘retina!’ Entry to medical school for this candidate’s DENIED!”
Dr. Teatree crumples up the application and goes to throw it away. But as he swivels in his chair light from a nearby window strikes his eyes. And simultaneously, Dr. Teatree’s stomach grumbles.
The doctor stops.
After several seconds, Dr. Teatree pulls out a medical chart. His retinas go back and forth. He taps his chin, he cocks his head, and an instant later Dr. Teatree gasps.
Despite the applicant’s misspelling and the utter anatomical preposterousness therefore implied, maybe a small chance exists; perhaps, just perhaps, “rectum” isn’t too far off. The walls of the sigmoid colon are a bit like the eye’s rear macula, are they not, with comparable pigmentation, thickness, and concave shape? All can expand and contract to equivalent parameters, and though proximally distant, with just a few incisions and sutures, one could bring them together and….
It’s the genesis for a new ophthalmic regeneration technique, enabled by colonic grafting and marketed towards the visually and gastrointestinally impaired. “My procedure’s a twofer cure-for-you,” Dr. Teatree becomes oft to repeat, and before long he considers himself the salt and light of the human race. Dr. Teatree lectures at all the universities. He’s on television and he stars in numerous internet videos. Everyone buys his books, and soon Dr. Teatree is making more money in a given month than he’s made in any decade before. Which is a godsend, because there’s mortgages and boats to pay for, after all.
TEXAS, AT LARGE. The spending spree, famous at this point, moves from possessions to drugs to hookers. But who’s surprised? Well, those who know Dr. Teatree’s age, for one. But moving on, soon it all catches up with him.
Fame and fortune are no substitute for efficacy, just as misspellings and reflections coupled with peristaltic sound are not good bases for surgical experimentation. Complaints lead to the largest class-action malpractice lawsuit the country has ever seen. Hundreds are left blind. Thousands more are left incontinent. Dr. Teatree is sentenced to jail for the rest of his life, and is fortunate not to get worse, after failing to prove that the confluence he advocated for did anything but cause pain, suffering, and grotesquely disrupted bodily processes. Holmes, Mengele, Ishii, Swango–and now the lists includes Teatree.
And most consider him worse than the rest, as he took advantage of the most hopeful and desperate.
In his personal life, Dr. Teatree is forced out from his religion. Though it isn’t that Dr. Teatree lacks a conscious. “The man’s an imbecile!” exclaims his last three residents in near-perfect unison, upon hearing the news of Dr. Teatree’s sentence on a hospital break-room television. It was always clear their supervisor was one of those rare practitioners who’d fallen through the medical school cracks and then was passed along–to do otherwise would have proved inconvenient. And Dr. Teatree’s residents didn’t report him, since all felt they learned more from correcting their supervisor’s mistakes than by working with other attending physicians, who tended to be control freaks.
Additionally, stories about Dr. Teatree have been good for laughs. In fact, unbeknownst to the doctor, he’d been famous at the bars frequented by local medical students for years.
HUNTSVILLE PENITENTARY, WALLS UNIT: Dr. Teatree is adjusting to life on the inside. Most report that he’s jovial, and to the point where they question his mental state–does he know that he’s in prison? Maybe he’s in denial.
Directly before his incarceration, the disgraced and now de-licensed physician pens an op-ed which he mails off to three dozen papers and journals, urging open-minded surgeons to try something else: “Last month I saw a patient with a damaged distal humerus. Distracted by my legal difficulties, instead of writing ‘elbow’ in my notes I put down an exact anagram of the word. Which led me to envision a new technique….”
Most editors throw the op-ed away. A few, however, publish it. After all, Dr. Teatree is famous, and fame sells lots of copy.
“Now, the anagram for ‘elbow’ that I wrote was ‘bowel,’” continues the op-ed, “which leads me to ask–have you ever considered that our amazing bodies might contain a suitable substitute–as distasteful as it may initially sound–for worn cartilage, which if injected into the upper radius and ulna could decrease the type inflammation associated with arthritis? This naturally-sourced substitute has a slippery makeup, thus aiding movement, and it’s non-hormonal, unlike prednisone and other glucocorticoids. With only a large-gauge hypodermic, one can treat a non-fasting (that’s important) patient for all sorts of degenerative joint maladies through injections of metabolic byproduct….”
People have believed in crazier things throughout history. All of the editors who publish Dr. Teatree’s op-ed are fired, but it proves too late. Would-be saviors of the rheumatic, swollen, and inflexible are fooled into practicing what Dr. Teatree preaches. And their patients’ rheumatism, swelling, and flexibility gets immediately worse. And significantly septic.
A few victims get off with just infections.
Most others, however, end up hospitalized and dead.
AMERICA, AT LARGE: Dr. Teatree can’t quit. Short of putting him into solitary forever (he’s not a violent criminal, so authorities, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say that their hands are tied) his op-eds keep getting out.
After several years of incarceration, it occurs to the good doctor that he should volunteer to work at the prison infirmary. There’s been budget cuts, so perhaps the in-house physicians could use a hand. And the ingenuity of his fellow inmates, who can make things like shivs from toothbrushes, gives Dr. Teatree another idea.
“Fellow inmates,” it is reported he frequently says, “do you like tattoos? Because there’s an alternate to using ball-point ink and carbonized Styrofoam. Take bile, for instance–a natural substance our bodies make. NATURAL! And nothing natural can be bad for us, right? Dip it on the end of your needles, and forgo the synthetic substances we’ve been putting in our bodies. Yes, there’s a risk of disease, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping ourselves pure….”
Rates of infection spread ten-fold, and nearly all tattooed prisoners have STI’s.
Dr. Teatree’s reign of terror continues.
For more from Jeffrey Hunt, visit https://batchandnarrative.com/