He was an average-looking kid, maybe 25, what statisticians might call “an outlier”–not quite strange enough to be bizarre, but definitely a bit “out there”–a little “goosey” in mannerisms, pleasant but slightly inappropriate in the things he laughed at, with his facial expressions, and with those other subliminal messages some call “body language.” I entered the exam room, to find him bobbing and tapping to the pulsing sounds emanating from his iPod ear buds–audible only to him, shutting out the world around–except for the chess game he played on his pocket PDA.
Healthy kid, seemed bright enough. Had rolled into the ER a few weeks ago with a classic story: severe pain in the flank, blood in the urine, vomiting–a typical kidney stone. The ER got his pain under control, and sent him home.
“So, how are you feeling now?”
“Pretty good–I think I passed the stone.”
“How’d that go for you?”
“Well, I talked with my buddy, and he told me they use sound waves to break up kidney stones.”
“Yes, they do.”
“So I decided to try that out.”
“I went home, and turned up my subwoofer.”
“Your…subwoofer? I … I don’t think that would do it…”
“Well, you’ve never heard my subwoofer!”
The stone was gone–resistance was futile. I sent him happily on his way.
But somehow I suspect I could have heard his subwoofer–if I had been within a 10 mile radius of his home, anyway…