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Just Shoot Me

Come to the aid of a friend in need already

by Angie Vicars

"What's hurting?" the nurse asks me.

"My lower back."

"How does it hurt?"

"I'd like to die. Could you shoot me, please?"

"I'm afraid not."


Last week I bent down to pet the cat. And I heard this odd sound. It came from my back. It sounded like I broke. In fact, it felt like I broke. But since all I did was bend down to pet the cat, I went back to writing at my computer. Hey, I'm no fool.

I don't know why it happened. But a couple hours later, I could swear an invisible person was stabbing me in the left kidney. And had been for awhile. At least a couple of hours. Countless ibuprofen and videos later, I could tell no change. Except that it took me longer to come to that conclusion.

So I went to see my massage therapist, Sara. (You may remember her as Madam Vegetable.) She asked me where I hurt. Then put her thumb exactly in the center of my pain. And pressed.


"You've pulled one of your external rotator muscles. I'm going to stretch it for you."

"Can't you just shoot me?"

"I'm more humane than that," she said, with a smile.

So by the next day, I had completely recovered. I felt so much better. I took it easy. Rested. Took ibuprofen. (Well, one more at least.) And went to New Orleans at the end of the week, where I walked everywhere for three days in a row—on concrete sidewalks, brick cemeteries, and the hardwood floors of our rooming house. In the wrong shoes. With Sara, my massage therapist. And my friend, Shannon, a physical therapist. Who told me I was crazy. (And who happens to have been right.)

Which brings me back to where I began this. In the doctor's office. In a great deal of pain. "It hurts when I breathe," I finally tell the nurse, who turns me over to the X-ray technician.

In the freezer where she works, she makes me lie down on a hard, sub-zero table. Then she arranges me like we're playing Twister. Only I'm in pain. And she's calling the shots. She makes me hold my breath. She aims. She fires. (Alas, only with rays of radiation, which kill too slowly for my taste.) Then she arranges me into another pretzel-style target. I'd like to say I lost all feeling. But I didn't. I felt so much by that point. I really had no words to express it.

Back in the room, the doctor finally arrives. "Does it hurt here?" he asks. Then he stabs me in the back. Just like the invisible person who started all this. If I wasn't in so much pain, I would shoot him. Before shooting myself, that is.

When I can speak again, I tell him that it does hurt where he stabbed me. In fact, it hurts even more than it did before.

Finally he tells me that I'm in pain. I've hurt the muscle where he just stabbed me. Then he writes prescriptions for me to get drugs. (Will they interfere with my ability to aim at myself, I wonder?) And he sends me to physical therapy.

"Would you like us to stretch that sore back?" a therapist asks me.

"Is this a trick question?" I ask, in my head.

"My ride's on the way," I say, in reality. And pray that I'm right, that any moment, Kellye will arrive. And, although she's been refusing to shoot me all day, this time she'll change her mind. She'll see me in pain and she'll take pity on me. She'll reach in her purse, whip out a revolver, and do away with me. Because that's what friends are for.

But not Kellye. She takes me to get the drugs instead. Except they don't have me in the filing system on their computer. The pharmacist asks me to come back in 15 minutes.

"Can't you just shoot me?" I ask. "Then I won't need to come back at all. You could even have my prescriptions. They're supposed to make you feel much better."

"I can't do that," she says. "It's illegal to take someone else's prescriptions."

Where are your values these days, people? That's what I'd like to know. You'll drive by and shoot a perfect stranger standing on the corner. You'll shoot somebody you know when they're yelling at you. You'll shoot somebody who catches you doing something illegal. But you won't shoot your friend who's been asking politely all day. Where were you raised? In a barn? That is just so rude.

I'm going to put up a bunch of billboards around town. That's a great way to make a point. They'll say, "Is your neighbor in pain? Don't let her turn to painkillers. You love her enough to help her put an end to her suffering, don't you? Of course you do. So shoot her.—God."

I feel better just thinking about it.

November 9, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 45
© 2000 Metro Pulse