Greg is my nurse. Greg isn't gay, and he doesn't care enough about me to be charmed or not charmed by my winning good humor. He's a corn-fed redhead, who idly jabs and re-jabs the needle in my hand, looking for a vein. I'm in an emergency room in suburban Chicago, having flown in from SFO a few hours earlier. I'm in town because my stomach has been hurting for a couple of months, and I want my mom to take care of me, and my friend the GI doc (Dr. L) can do an endoscopy much sooner than the fancy folks at Stanford Hospital. But by the time I arrive, I'm a slow puddle, and a family friend and physician (Dr. G) tells me to go to the emergency room, so she can order up some tests and rule out any bad stuff.
The evening's main event is the CT scan. A CT scan is a slow sled ride through a doughnut, which sounds pretty fantastic, except for the "IV dye," which the hilariously butch CT tech with the short sleeves and deep voice tells me might make me feel "flushed." She also tells me that it might make my heart do strange things. Given that I have an occasional arrythmia, this makes me nervous, and I tell her so. She leans over my hospital-gowned, prostrate, tied-down body and says, with gnomic meaningfulness, "We're just going to get through this test." I decide that this is comforting.
She leaves the room to get away from the radiation, and to man the sled controls. She slides me in, has me hold my breath, and slides me out. A few of these, and I'm doing pretty well. Then she says the dye is going in. I thought it had already gone in, and that I was manfully impervious to its effects.
It doesn't make me feel "flushed." It makes me feel, as an experienced friend put it, like my body is turning into molten copper. And my heart starts to flip-flop. I freak out, in a somewhat less than manly way. "Ma'am, ma'am, I need to get out." I try to sit up so I can fidget my insides enough to make my heart calm down. Sitting up in the tube is dispreferred. She's mad at me. She tells me to calm down, and not to move. It turns out that the rest of "get through this test" wasn't "together, babe" but "no matter what, bitch."
I'm wheeled back to my room. I have a new nurse, an even bigger, but very friendly non-gay guy. When I ask for stuff he can't give me, he says things like, "No, there's no love for you, man." He also says, "I hear you got a little anxious." "No, I totally freaked out."
A couple of hours later, all the results are in. Blood tests are normal, CT scan is normal. It's 3:15am, and I go home.