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Quack Attack

I knew at the instant I saw the quack that the news would not be good. He entered the examining room bearing an expression of sympathy. I imagine that studied look is taught in medical schools, likely in front of mirrors so that just the right facial set can be obtained to deliver a bad prognosis. I flung aside the dated copy of Time I had been skimming, already aware that a hurricane had devastated the New Orleans area. The welfare of those in that Petri dish was of far less concern to me than my own. I clung to the sides of the examining table on which I perched and awaited his verdict.

The quack adopted a method of indirect approach that would have made military commentator B. H. Liddell Hart proud. McClellan made a beeline for Richmond in comparison. I was informed that the quack had studied the problem closely. He had researched the issue thoroughly. Some of the best medical minds at the Duke University Medical Center had been consulted. It was all to no avail. There had been no magic bullet, not even a glimmer of hope. As I exhorted him to cease screwing around and get on with it, he steeled himself for the announcement. The quack looked me straight in the eye and told me that he had been unable to obtain tickets for the State-Duke game at Cameron.

It got even worse. Since the Atlantic Coast Conference had determined a couple of years ago that revenues from the Tech-Miami football game were greater than what could be obtained from continuing the basketball round robin, there would be no return game this year at the Pork Palace, where tickets are much easier to come by than precious Cameron ones. The quack would be unable to take in a Duke-State game this year with our mutual friend, a State alumnus and as of a few days ago a former local textile executive. This was bad news indeed. It was bad enough to lose one’s job; not being able to watch the Pack tangle with the Devils was devastating.

There was not even a glimmer of hope. Since that darned football expansion had caused a retraction in the available numbers of ACC Tournament tickets available to each school, the quack’s status within the Iron Dukes was not sufficient to continue acquiring them. Even if the two teams met in the Tournament, tickets would still be unobtainable. That will teach him to buy a new Mercedes instead of using those funds to add to his Iron Dukes priority points, especially since the S-class will be overhauled in another year, quickly rendering his new model obsolete.

This was grim news indeed. Compared to the tragedy of only being able to watch State-Duke on ESPN, my own paled in significance, at least to the quack. It seems I had suffered something called a Thyroid Storm. I would be willing to wager that, like I, most everybody reading this had never heard of something called a Thyroid Storm, either.

Aside from being a rather unsettling experience, it seems a rather rare one, especially to those afflicted with the same Hashimoto’s Disease as I. With Hashimoto’s the thyroid ceases to function, just sitting there being about as useful as styling gel to Herb Sendek. Metabolism slows to a crawl, much like Tech’s offense these days.

A Thyroid Storm is the exact opposite. My previously-dormant thyroid suddenly sprang into action, working like JJ Redick trying to find a shot, producing an overabundance of TSH receptor antibodies. These brand spanking new hormones combined with the replacement hormonal medication I take to combat the Hashimoto’s to produce an overdose of thyroid hormones, an embarrassment of riches, so to speak, not unlike Carolina basketball recruiting these days.

The resulting hyperthyroidism induced a state of thyrotoxicosis, the clinical description for a number of symptoms, including palpitations, shortness of breath, nervousness and a host of gastrointestinal ailments. It was no fun, let me tell you. Treatment involved ingesting something called Lugol’s Solution, an iodine-based liquid that tasted every bit as bad as it sounds and waiting for the symptoms to go away, which they did.

As we waited for Lugol or whomever to prepare the solution, bringing to mind visions of some mad scientist somewhere underneath the quack’s office pouring chemicals from test tube to test tube with a cackling laugh, the quack and I chatted. My opinion remains that while Duke may indeed make it through the regular season undefeated, their overall slowness of foot is going to cause problems in the NCAA Tournament, probably as soon as the Devils’ bracket includes UConn. Duke will see backcourts far tougher than Jamon Gordon and Zabien Dowdell.

I also pointed out that Tech will likely eventually win an ACC game, probably during a much quicker time frame than the modern medical establishment seems to be finding a cure for Hashimoto’s. My opinion remains that this should be at the top of any medical practitioner’s ‘To Do’ list.

The argument that Hashimoto’s, at the advanced stage mine seems to be entering, only affects about three out of every million people cuts little ice when one is among the three. The statistical insignificance that causes it to reside at a low priority level, not unlike the quack’s in the Iron Dukes, becomes a little more personal. Having a rare illness loses its panache after a relatively short period of time.

My advice that scarce medical research resources be diverted from illnesses such as AIDS or breast cancer, ailments which the statistical probabilities of my acquiring are zero, to the one I actually have does not seem to be heeded.

It is always comforting when one’s quack, when asked what can be done about something, shrugs his shoulders and answers, “Beats me.” Finding a middle ground between the extremes of a thyroid that doesn’t work at all and one that will suddenly spring into action with the fury of message board loons after a loss is still elusive.

The quack reiterated that he was not all that concerned, mainly because it was my thyroid causing the problem and not his. For the most part, the medication I consume on a daily basis controls things. The quack did suggest that I change the environmental factors that seemed to create the perfect Thyroid Storm and was not relieved when I informed him that those environmental conditions are likely to worsen before they improve, much like the atmosphere in Cassell if Tech keeps losing. A prescription was written to attempt to create a mindset towards those conditions prevalent in a lot of NOVA Hokies.

In any event, what turned into a rather eventful Sunday night and Monday morning seems to have passed. There have been those who have written wondering why I had posted no commentary on that dreadful Tech-Hoo basketball game that set the sport back twenty years and was likely not what Dr. Naismith had in mind when he hung up the peach baskets. I had other considerations than noting that Tech doesn’t seem to have a ‘go-to’ guy during critical situations, the player that will step forward as Carlos Dixon did so often last year and take and make the clutch shot. The Hoos had such a player in Sean Singletary.

I was sitting in the quack’s office Monday morning rather than remarking on how easily Fallback Dave befuddled Tech with those changing defenses and how Seth had no such tactical ploy in his bag of tricks. The quack delivers prognoses without a hint of Seth’s flamboyance or loss of control that Tech fans occasionally observe in the Tech coach at most inopportune times. There are rarely any television cameras around for the quack to play to. There doesn’t seem to be any Lugol’s Solution for the Tech team to overcome its talent deficiencies, shooting woes or inability to close games. Hopefully, like the Thyroid Storm, these problems can be treated and will pass. The quack is as unlikely to win Quack of the Year honors as Seth is to be tabbed ACC Coach of the Year for a second straight year. The early favorite would seem to be Fallback Dave, who at the moment is accomplishing quite a bit with practically nothing. Seth and the Tech team have to keep plugging away.

A follow-up visit to the quack determined that my thyroid was back to its usual abnormal inactivity. The quack still had not found any State-Duke tickets or a cure for Hashimoto’s. My suggestion that all of those crack endocrinologists at the DUMC give up their seats and spend the evening instead working on a cure has apparently not been heeded. Of course, if I had tickets Cameron is where I would be, too. It’s back to ACC basketball.

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