2008-09-08: Take Aim



And Introducing:


Summary: Soon after moving to New York, twenty-five year old manager of a store's electronics department Joel Nelson takes a trip to the doctor because of the headaches he's been experiencing… among other things.

Date It Happened: September 8th, 2008

Take Aim

Aldric's Family Practice

Hartsdale, NY

The family practice is cozy this time of day, the warm sunlight filtering in through the window by the door making a quaint addition to the simple decor, which sits somewhere between countrified and as modern as a small town can get. The dull cream-hued waiting room has been fairly scarce of patients all day, and now, as it nears its last hour of the day, that trend continues. The only magazines that are at all recent are medical and science-themed.

At the desk, a young receptionist with large glasses sits, sending out appointment reminders on the phone. A patient — a boy with his mother — leaves the offices. Off to her left of the receptionist, in a corner nook just out of sight of the waiting room, Dr. Aldric fusses with a chart and tries to organize a mess of papers on a little work surface.

"Joel Nelson?" the receptionist says as she puts the phone down, a simple shout that scares the bejeezus out of the doctor. A slew of papers go flying and fluttering out into the waiting room. This must happen often, as the receptionist just calmly gets up to pluck them off the floor while saying, "Joel, you can come on in."

The young man that'd been sitting there for a time, having arrived early, starts to gain his feet. He awkwardly puts down the Popular Science magazine he'd been flipping through, at first setting the periodical upon the seat of his chair… then rethinking and putting it over on an end table, then rethinking again and putting it on a stack with its brethren.

His voice lifts, "Here, coming. One sec." Joel's voice drifts over, not as authoritative as the nurse's. He starts to move towards the designated entryway, adjusting the hang of his jacket with the sweep of one hand, then pushing the other through his hair as he steps on through.

"Jody!! If you could just keep your voice down," Dr. Aldric, hovering fretfully and holding out his hands to take handfuls of dropped papers, is muttering to the receptionist as Joel approaches. The doctor is an aging man, into his sixties, but his greys only show up at his temples and in his scruffy, not-quite-broom handle moustache. It matches his hair, which looks quite like it got into a fight with static electricity. "I keep telling you, this is— it's an indoor environment, you need to use your indoor voice… Mr. Nelson!"

He clears his throat, taking the last few pages from Jody, who scurries away; he awkwardly sets them down where they belong, regains his clipboard and smoothes his white coat down. "My name's Dr. Aldric. Ah, just uh— you're my last patient of the day, so no wait, boy, uh, just come in. Follow me." He heads into one of the exam rooms. Its walls are plastered with colourful scribbled childrens' drawings. "Have a seat. How are you today?"

It's into the exam room that he goes and Joel's probably caught as he takes a look over the decor, eyes moving around openly curious. He gives a small nervous smile to the doctor, then does as the man suggests. Hopping onto the bed and the white paper, causing it to crinkle as he does so, he rests his hands on his knees and addresses the older man. "I guess I'm doing kinda ok, Doctor."

His brow furrows for a moment as he looks again over towards the door, then back at the doctor. It's clear that he's perhaps struggling with something or how to phrase something, an expression the doctor is probably familiar with. "It's probably nothing, or I don't know. Probably everything. My mom used to tell me I was a hypochondriac, but like since this is the first time I've used the store's medical insurance after a few years, that can't be so right."

Dr. Aldric raises a hand, which happens to be holding a blue ballpoint pen which he thus accidentally points with like a conductor. Whatever he was about to interrupt with fades into oblivion, however, and he simply takes a seat on the stool near the foot of the exam table. It creaks metallically and slides back on its wheels. Damn stool. It's difficult to tell whether or not the deeply knit brow and the intent squinting through his dark-framed glasses are due to furniture complaints or his patient. "Well," he starts off. "You'd think hypochondriacs would be at their doctor every other week, but the opposite happens to be just as true. Mmh-hhhm, some hypochondriacs have a fear of doctors." Squint. "Well, uh… what seems to be the problem then?"

"Well like," The young man scrunches up one eye, his gaze distancing to just over Dr. Aldric's shoulder. He grimaces then looks back, "I suppose you could say it started a few weeks ago, like at darts but uhh." He rubs the back of his neck awkwardly, clearly not comfortable here or with the conversation.

"I get, like, headaches. Not a lot, but sometimes. But like last night, yesterday. Was really bad. I don't know, people say that if you have to ask what a migraine is then you haven't had one, but I think it was a migraine. Hurt a lot, light hurt my eyes, fell over. And like, before that I'd been having some headaches too, but not like anything as bad as that." He straightens up a bit, "Though now that I think about it I've kinda always had headaches, but maybe I'm just remembering them now, or something. Anyways, yeah, umm, something with my head, Doctor."

The squinting on Dr. Aldric's part certainly doesn't stop, but it does get directed down at his clipboard while he jots a few things down. Adjusting his glasses as he peers back up at Joel, he asks, "The headaches you're having now, they're worse than any other headaches you've had, is that correct? Do they come on suddenly? Where in uh, your head do you feel them? You mentioned … darts? You didn't get hit with a dart did you? Because you shoulda gone to the ER…"

"No no, I think that's just when I first noticed back a few weeks ago. Was at that bar down on 45th…" Luckily Joel self-edits and instead presses off down another path of the conversation. "Anyways, like. Yeah this last headache was really bad, like yesterday. But, I mean, I haven't had one today since. I mean, maybe I shouldn't even have come out. I'm probably fine. But uh, I kinda started to worry."

He breaks off to gesture with one hand towards the back of his noggin, "It was back here, like right above the spine I guess, where it meets the skull. But, ya know, I probably would have written it off, but earlier some weird things were happening." He pauses, then frowns as he adds with a graveyard seriousness, "Doc, I think I might have a tumor or something."

The doctor was intent before; now, he becomes tenfold. After a purse of his mouth that translates as a scrunch of his moustache, Dr. Aldric leans his shaggy head over the clipboard he holds onto so tightly. Very considering blue eyes examine the young man. "Are you having hallucinations, Joel? Are you hearing things, is that it?"

The immediate response from Joel is to try and allay the good doctor's worries. "What, me, hallucinate? No, no no. Noooo. Heck no." Then he pauses, "Well, wait. Maybe." Of course he fails. He looks up again as if trying to recall if anything he's experienced lately seemed hallucinatory. He then looks back and adds, "Well, see. There's this thing."

It's then that Joel starts to look around at the examination room. He knits his brow in concentration, then snaps his fingers in realization. A small container of advil is pulled from his jacket pocket.

"Hhm. I see." Well, not really, but every little bit does help to paint a picture. Dr. Aldric is no stranger to his patients occasionally rambling in their effort to explain how they're feeling. His considering stare still doesn't budge, save to eye the bottle of meds. "Has the Advil been helping with your headaches?"

"No, like, not at all. But here," He quickly unpops the top of the advil and pours out the little tables into his hand. He then hands the empty bottle to Dr. Aldric for him to hold even as Joel steps back and hops onto the exam table again. "I uhh, kinda, like noticed this other symptom thing."

That having been said, should the good doctor hold the bottle for him, Joel takes the hnadful of pills in one fist and then casually starts to flick them with his thumb up into the air where they begin to land in the bottle with an eerie precision. "Like, I started with a trash bin and some wadded up paper," As he speaks the little pills make soft 'tick tick tick' noises as they each find their home. He even goes so far as to turn his hand, to flick with different fingers, to open his palm and flick with his other hand. Each motion leading to the 'tick-rattle' sound of the pills falling into the bottle. "And like, it was just weird. I mean, I suppose this could be a hallucination, if you don't see it…"

"Uhhh— " Dr. Aldric does, indeed, take the pill bottle — much the way one does when an object is shoved at them and they don't know what else to do with it. It's clear that he has absolutely no idea of what the young man is up to— until he starts to explain. Until the pills start to land in the bottle with remarkable accuracy. He plucks his rectangular-framed glasses from his face, rubs his tired eyes and blinks down at the Advil bottle. How easy would it be to tell the poor man that it is a hallucination, that Joel is the only one to see it? He keeps his expression stoic, but there's a long pause before he speaks again.

"… That's enough." The older man holds up a hand and setting the bottle on the exam table. "Stand— stand back by that wall behind you there for a moment, closer, closer back." Standing up himself, he takes a jar of small jar of candy (intended for kids and Meryl) a shelf, unfastens the lid, and gives Joel a handful of the plastic-wrapped goodies. He then points at the Eye Exam poster on the opposite wall. "Hit the letter J, O, E, L. Can you hit them with your back turned?"

The young man's brow remains furrowed but he does as he's told. He slides off the exam bed and accepts the handful of candy. He moves where is indicated, looking down and careful that his feet are in the right place. He takes a glance of a look over at the eye chart, then turns back to face Dr. Aldric.

"I think so," He shuffles the candy in his hand and then begins to toss them over his shoulder, casually causing them to click against the wall and fall to the ground, striking it cleanly. First there's the J. Then there's the O. The E. The L. As the doctor watches, Joel glances back, then at him again and leans forwards to take another handful of candy, a bit more this time. He adds on an N, then an E, an L, the S, the O, then the final N.

"Hm." Dr. Aldric manages to express barely anything in that one dull syllable. Certainly not surprise. Almost, almost disappointment, despite Joel's expert job. He moves to sit down again, loafers shuffling through candy that bounced off the wall. "That is… well, it's… it's impressive. I can't say that I've … seen that particular… well, I've never seen that before." The man's voice takes on a lower down, even more serious. "Have— have a seat. I'm going to ask you a question, Joel. I want you to think about it very hard."

"Well, see. At first I figured I dunno… dunno what it is." He takes a seat again as the doctor speaks. Joel keeps talking too, almost right over the good Dr. Aldric, "But I was thinking, like I looked up on the internet stuff, and I was thinking, maybe it's like a tumor growing in like, that spatial area part of the brain. Or something."

It's only when the doctor's tone shifts that Joel seems to snap to the here and now, paying full attention. "Hm? Ok, sure ask away Doc. I'll do what's best." He affixes an earnest gaze upon the older man.

"Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with you, you've never been in before, I don't know your medical history, but my uh… my impression is, Joel, that you don't have a tumor. Your… 'spatial area part of the brain'… it's more than fine. It's— " Dr. Aldric leans down and takes a candy from the floor at his feet (indubitably strawberry flavoured; the letter E, as it happens). He holds it up in display. "It's exceptional. What I want to know is, how do you like your life?"

As Dr. Aldric speaks, Joel listens attentively. His eyes follow the glances of the other man, and when he's asked a question he responds fairly quickly. "Oh I don't know, I like it just fine I guess…" There's a slight sideways glance given to the doctor as Joel tries to figure out exactly what the older man is getting at. Being an uncomplicated man, Joel gives voice to those thoughts rather simply. "What are you getting at, Doc?"

"A thing like that, well— your life could… take a turn. Because of what you have." The doctor clears his throat, a low grumbling cough. "If you like it how it is— you're what, twenty-four, twenty-five, you work at an electronics department store selling gadgets? I mean to say— if you want to go down a road where you take charge and have goals beyond selling computers… I wouldn't be surprised if that were to happen. I don't want to startle you, son. If you want to try to stay normal — you know, safe. In your little store. Well. I wouldn't tell anyone else about your ability to take aim, there."

For a time Joel kind of just looks at Dr. Aldric. His brow knits a bit, hands resting on either side of him upon the exam bed. It's clear that he's not getting the full picture, or at least he's perhaps misunderstanding a part of it. He lifts his chin, lips parting as if about to say something, but he hesitates. He thinks again, then goes on, "Stay normal? So you're saying I shouldn't go to Vegas and start a juggling act?" His lip curves a bit there, amused, and perhaps not taking it entirely seriously. "Trust me doc, I doubt anyone'd pay money to see me toss candy at eye charts."

Not remotely amused, Dr. Aldric stares staunchly at Joel through his spectacles. "You'd be surprised what people would do. I know it sounds a little off, but I'm not a crazy old kook yet. You're not the only one who can…" He pauses, considering, and finishes awkwardly: "…juggle." Coughing, he sits up straighter, setting his clipboard on the table and pats the front pockets of his white coat a few times before tugging out a notepad. "Look, I'm gonna prescribe you something stronger for the pain. Targets, uh— headaches of this nature more successfully." Scrawl, scrawl. The prescription is handed over to Joel, Rx Dr. John Aldric, says the notepaper. "Regardless. Don't show off."

"Umm," Joel starts to rise as the prescription is handed over. He takes a glance at it then looks back up at the doctor. "Shouldn't I get like, a catscan, or MRI, or X-ray thing, or something? I mean that's what they always do on House." He slides the piece of paper into his jacket and zips up as if getting ready to head on out. "Not to try and second guess you or anything, just I had to take a bit of time off…" He lets those words trail off into banality.

"In what house?" Dr. Aldric gets to his feet, tucking his hands into his pockets. "If the headaches persist— make another appointment. We'll go from there." He moves to the door, opening it just barely, keeping it ajar. "And Joel…" He turns to look at the young man over his shoulder, his spectacled gaze full of importance.

"Uh…" Dr. Aldric's moustache twitches and he scrapes a hand over it, changing his mind. "…Don't operate any heavy machinery."

"Nothing bigger than an Ipod, doc." He gives the older man a flash of a grin, then Joel's stepping through the door. "And thanks!" He moves out through the door then pauses for a moment. He looks back over his shoulder, "Ya know, nice to find a decent family doc working for a big corporate thingamabob. I appreciate your help and all."

It's only after saying that that Joel heads to the door leading outside. He adjusts his jacket as he moves, and also… of course, is forgetting his co-pay. But hey, he's only human.

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