The Middletown Desperado Players performed this piece by Chris at PYM Sessions this Summer at a workshop called "The Presence in the Midst"
The Reluctant Patient
An original skit written in three short acts by Chris Stern, June 2014
First visit: The patient enters a doctors office and speaks to the receptionist:
P: Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
P: Sometime around 1652
R: Emergency contact?
P: Well, I guess my mother, Margaret Fell, Swarthmore Hall
R: Do you have a living will or power of attorney?
P: No, gee, I hope things aren’t that bad!
R: Health Insurance?
P: No, oh, wait a minute! I mean yes! I have new coverage under Obamacare.
R: Good, may I see a copy of your card? That will be a $20 co-pay, please make the check out to “G.O.D. Medical Associates” Like the Boss always says, “Some doctors think they are God, I know I am.”
R: Okay, come over to the scale please. (motions over). Put down all those bags and burdens and step on the scale. Hmm, it looks like you have been losing some weight and if I'm not mistaken, you seem to be shrinking. Hmm
P: Yes, I thought so but I avoid scales and mirrors and I certainly try not to look at membership statistics...too depressing.
R: Okay, yes, the old “Bury your head in the sand” routine, very effective! You can go in now.
(Patient enters doctor's office)
Dr. What brings you to our office today?
P: Well, I haven't been feeling myself in a while and I thought I should come in for a check up.
Dr: Yes, I am glad that you did. When you say not feeling yourself, what exactly do you mean?
P: Well I have had some significant weight loss. That is, I don't feel as weighty as I used to. I am experiencing what can best be described as a general malaise. I just don't feel that same vitality and vigor that I used to feel. I have shortness of breath, not as strong a voice. Also, I feel dizzy and disoriented at times, my testimonies feel weak. And certainly I feel under a lot of stress about finances.
Dr: Hmm, I can see from your medical records that you have had these symptoms before.
P: Yes, but they seem to be getting worse, so ... I decided to come and see you.
Dr: Okay, well, I've been wondering when you were going to come in for a visit.
Let's look at your medications. They seem to be mostly self prescribed, are they helping?
P: They seem to help off and on but never last very long and the symptoms always return.
Dr: I see, can you be more specific?
P: Yes, well I have tried various colon cleansing medicines but I still have long periods when I get all bound up.
I 've taken some medications for stress, when I have to revise Faith and Practice, but as soon as I start feeling better, I have to revise it again.
I have another medicine for panic attacks during restructuring, but the restructuring never seems to end!
I even tried re-arranging my life, moving the benches into a circle in the meeting houses and prioritizing my long list of social concerns, you know, stuff like that! ..................... Really, the whole thing is just kind of overwhelming. I used to think I could handle all these things myself, but I am no longer so sure that I can.
Dr: Yes, I see. We will start by giving you some tests.
I would like to begin with a stress test and go from there. When I have the results, we can discuss what is next. (End of Act 1)
Second Visit : Patient returns to doctor for consultation
P: Do you have any news for me?
Dr: What do you want first, the good news, or the bad news?
P: How about the Good News.
Dr: Okay, well we certainly can improve your overall quality of life. Your condition is treatable, however, we need to go deeper than the symptoms themselves.
The tests have determined that there is a significant underlying cause that has to be addressed and ......I know that you have been reluctant to do this in the past.
P: Yes, well I was always hoping to avoid anything major. What have you found?
Dr: Well, you have some significant blockages in your main arteries and if they are not cleaned out you could have a stroke or even a heart attack. There is a lot of traditional plaque that has built up in your arteries over the years and is clogging things up.
I also found a lot of hurt and misunderstanding from past history. Then there is a very large hardened area of fear and denial that is further constricting the blood flow to your heart. Frankly, due to the many different precipitating factors, we really do not know exactly how much surgery will be needed until we can open you up and get a good look inside. Are you willing to be opened? (short pause)
P: That's the good news? Good grief! I know that I have been having some problems, but I always seem to find a way to get through. My life has not been easy, you know. I just didn't realize that things were this bad. Are you sure about this?
I want a second opinion.
Dr: Yes, well I am sure that you can find someone out there that will tell you what you want to hear. As you know, I have never functioned that way.
Fortunately, there have been significant advancements in performing these kinds of procedures. We are now able to use a “state of the art” laser tool to go through a small opening and cut and paste, so to speak, using an intense Inner Light!
I would recommend our experienced surgical team headed by Dr. Jesus, “the Christ.” He and his team have a reputation for getting to the heart of the matter. Get, it, good joke right? I can have you talk to some of his patients if you like.
P: Oh my! I knew this name was going to come up somewhere in our conversation. Honestly, I really don't have a problem with him. The problem that I have is that I find many of his patients narrow minded, dogmatic, and even scary at times.
Dr: Well... now that you mention it...so do I!
However the surgery that I am recommending is to open up your constricted areas, not make them narrower. After all, what about that voice?, “There is one, even..(quickly interrupted)
P: Yes, Yes, I know, but that was a long time ago.
DR: Well, how about,“This I know experimentally”? That still seems popular. Just consider this your latest experiment in the Light.
P: Oh my, can you please stop with the old quotes. I prefer to see myself as a more modern, do-it -yourself religion.
Dr: I see, well.... it sounds like you need to hear the bad news:
The test results clearly indicate that if you keep putting this off, simply addressing the symptoms with the same old, same old, and trying to fix it yourself, it will eventually kill you!
Let me state, in no uncertain terms, that it is in your best interest to move forward with this operation as soon as possible!
P: (deep sigh) I am very uncomfortable with your recommendation. How do I know what will happen if I open my heart to this doctor and his team? I might be changed in ways that I do not expect or even want. I'm not sure I can do this! I will give your recommendations to one of my many standing committees for further consideration.
Dr: Any delay would be a big mistake. From my vantage point, you simply have no choice. You are certainly not the first patient that I have spoken to about this. I have been giving this same advice for many, many years.
P: (acting distracted)
Dr: Are you listening? Have you been listening for the still small voice?
(lowers voice and continues) The way forward toward a new heart and all the newness of Life that you long for, is to recognize that you cannot fix this yourself. You cannot keep self medicating the symptoms. You need the help of a power greater than your own to bring about these essential changes within you. Face the facts and make the right choice! Choose Life! (Deuteronomy 30) (End of Act 2)
(short pause before moving to last act)
Third Visit: Dr. visits patient in the hospital after surgery
Dr: Well, how do you feel?
P: I feel a little weak and unsure of myself which I am guessing is not such a bad feeling? Right?
Dr: Yes, well that is normal after this type of surgery. Any pain?
P: Yes, I have some discomfort and am not able to get up and walk yet on my own. And, my pride is hurt. I have to depend on others and seem to need to depend more on Divine assistance as well.
Dr: Yes well it sounds like you are well on the road to recovery. In time you will find you will be able to do more than you have been able to do in many, many, years.
P: Really, Like what?
Dr: Maybe, climb mountains (or hills) and have visions.
How about, run with perseverance the race that is set before you? (Hebrews 12) Possibly, rise up on wings as Eagles. You may walk and not be weary, you may run and not be faint (Isaiah 40). You may find yourself singing God's praises, speaking a message of renewal and hope. After all you were born to be a beacon of Light, a vessel for God's redeeming love.
You know, stuff like that!