The other day, I met Dr. Ida Calabash, a scientist/physician, an expert, and an AMA official who recently published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in which she described a new medical disorder she has identified. She calls it atemmania (from atem, the German word for breath, and mania, an obsession). She defines atemmania as a vexing condition prevalent in creatures, including humans, causing them to breathe in order to live. She believes that with proper medical advice and a strictly followed drug regimen of Giftalin (originally developed as a poison gas in World War I), this troublesome disorder characterized by inhaling oxygen into the lungs and exhaling carbon dioxide back into the air through the nose and mouth can be controlled, if never completely eliminated.
Within days of the paper’s publication, the following conversation took place between a patient and her doctor:
Doctor: Blanche, I’m sorry to have to tell you that you have atemmania. I’m sorry. Really. But the good news is that you are one of the first to be diagnosed with it. You’re on the cutting edge of medicine, if you will. This disease just came in out of nowhere. Actually, not out of nowhere – it came out of the hard work of Dr. Sunny Calabash. But we all think it’s gonna be a heavy hitter of a disorder. It should take off big time. The pharmas are swinging for the fences on this one. Gonna market the hell out of Giftalin. It’s been around for a long time but we never knew what to do with it. We were worried there for a while. But Dr. Calabash hunkered down and came up with atemmania. Got to have a disorder to go with the treatment, right? We’ll market the hell out of it, too. Make it an overnight sensation. And you’re in on it from the get-go, Blanche.
Blanche: The blood tests showed it?
Doctor: Well, the blood never shows anything, but we’re workin’ on it.
Blanche: What’s it from, doc?
Doctor: It’s genetic.
Blanche: But if the blood tests don’t ……
Doctor: We’re workin’ on it, honey, we’re workin’ on it. Trust me, you’ve got it. In a way, it’s kind of an honor for you to be one of the first to have it. You could be one of the pioneers who brand atemmania, so to speak.
Blanche: But how do I know it’s really a disease?
Doctor: If you believe you have it, and believe me you do, then you do. And by golly, we’re gonna fix you.