Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Smelling Salts vs. Salted Smelts

A spell of fainting brought on by a deep and disturbing childhood memory involving dried pasta. Once I was able to ascertain that dried pasta was the culprit, I had the patient switch to fresh pasta and the fainting spells vanished. I also told her to stay away from gorgonzola sauce since I believed it and the dried pasta were inextricably linked in the mind of the patient, after she had related to me a dream of a giant gorgonzola cheese chasing her across the Pennsylvania countryside asking her questions about some recent tax receipts.
In my years as a practitioner of the psychiatric and psychoanalytic arts, I have had numerous patients faint on me when confronting some of their deepest feelings and long forgotten memories, especially of a painful or embarrassing nature. Take Patient K., as I shall refer to him. A chronic bed-wetter in his childhood days, as an adult he was finding dissatisfaction and even a modern ennui taking hold of him daily (ennui tended to have died out during the Victorian Age after it was discovered that it was caused by a lack of chicken fat in the Victorian diet and once this was remedied, ennui was put on the train to France where the French took to it like snails in white wine, butter and garlic), and it wasn't until I dug deep, through a series of lengthy sessions of psychoanalysis and strudel eating (Freud was the first to discover the benefits of strudel eating, while probing the darkest recesses of a patient's mind while Jung was given to fasting, taking psychotropic drugs and dancing the Watusi), that I finally discovered the answer to K's predicament.
Herr M., one of Jung's patients, completely gone on psychotropic drugs and using Watusi therapy to come to terms with his dual personalities.
I simply convinced K. that all it would take for him to find peace and happiness, was for him to  begin wetting his bed again. I'm happy to report my diagnosis worked and to this day K. is a veritable fountain of urine under the sheets (his own of course as I've cautioned him about using discretionary measures when using someone else's bedding even if it means being depressed for a few days) and happy as a walrus during spring break on the tundra when the lichen blooms and makes a comfortable pillow for lovemaking, child rearing, grunting and boisterous bellowing to welcome the summer solstice and arrival of the dying ospreys of Norway. Anyway, the point is, if it hadn't been for him fainting constantly (he did receive some nasty lumps on his forehead but part of the technique is collapsing without any cushioning so that the head might strike the floor with a proper concussive speed to trigger unconsciousness and begin the regressive therapy), I would not have been able to treat him so quickly and efficiently. The question is, with patients of the fainting ilk, what do you use to revive them so that they can; A) continue to relive their childhood horrors until they achieve a state of well-being, and, B) rouse themselves from their prone state so that their drool may not soak into your Turkish carpet. Now, for years and even to this day, smelling salts continue to be the answer to this dilemma, but it is my conviction that smelling salts are actually damaging the tender tissues of the brain due to the dioxyglucoflouridaoxyglobin that is part of their chemical make-up. If you saw what this stuff can do to Kleenex (which is not unlike tender brain tissues), then you can only imagine what it's doing ricocheting around in your head cavity. The photo below provides an extreme example of what the excessive use of smelling salts can do. Notice the Kleenex-like brain tissue emerging from the nostrils and then light as a feather, drifting both upwards and downwards to drape over the subject's forehead and neckline. The eyes, of course, have been paralyzed by the dioxyglucoflouridaoxyglobin, but luckily, after receiving the call from one of my fellow associates for help (it was his patient), through the use of my salted smelts counteractive treatment, I was able to bring this patient around.
So, what exactly is this remedy for awaking a person from a faint? Salted smelts is the key and though it's been years since I've tested this treatment on another human being (I did try it once on my neighbour, Voltar's, guinea pig, Nunzio, about a year ago with mixed results as the smelts were too large to fully insert into Nunzio's tiny nostrils), I was ready to give it another go. It so happened that day that an old colleague of mine, Dr. Jeepers, called me up to see if he could borrow my meerschaum pipe and a pair of swim flippers. I told him certainly but in exchange, he must help me with an experiment. Now, the whole thing hinged on smelts of course and not having any of these succulent fish myself, it was time once again to plead with my landlady, Mrs. Grabowsky, who still hadn't forgiven me for setting her housecoat aflame and also charring her wig (even though I told her it was Litvack who did it and not me after one of his antique muskets misfired causing the tragedy). Anyway, after I implored her for a good ten minutes, she finally relented after I promised to bathe her cat, and she tossed me a can of sardines. The very same brand, in fact, that I'd previously pried from her pantry to create my makeshift mutton chops.
 "But these aren't smelts," I said, confused.
"Listen, mister, you're already walking on thin ice. Count your lucky stars I've haven't thrown you the hell out of this place. Now take the goddamn sardines and get the hell outta my sight."
"Well," Dr. Jeepers consoled me. "Smelts are small fish. Sardines are small fish. I don't see where there's too much difference. Shall we begin the experiment. I'm kind'a in a hurry for those swim flippers."
Now, so many things can go wrong with this type of psychological testing that one must tread lightly, preferably in slippers, and keep a keen eye on the patient's behaviour and an astute ear to their breathing, especially after you knock them over the head to simulate unconsciousness from fainting. Because it's difficult to make someone faint on cue so a little catalyst is needed in the form of a good, blunt instrument, wrapped in a towel to prevent serious head injury or at least any outward bleeding. Only after this can the salted smelts be applied. But if you should falter or hesitate in your application of this technique, even for a minute, the results can be disastrous as the photo below illustrates. In this case, the salted smelts were applied too late and brain tissue issued forth from the nose as a kind of umbilical cord from which bloomed, because of the memories contained in the cellular structure, a type of a human figure that Jung would have termed a "carbuncular puppet of doom." Besides the forlorn and frightening nature of the visage, you try squeezing one of these apparitions out of your nose. In the end it was deemed the figure was a memory simulation of the patient's Aunt Edna, who was still angry at the patient for burning a batch of griddle cakes on the aunt's birthday, causing her husband, Bertrand, to storm out of the house, get in a car accident, losing his left hand and forever impairing his career as a competition small mouth bass fisherman.

"So, how do we go about this?" Dr. Jeepers asked.
"Well, you stand here," I directed him to the middle of the room, "and I'll knock you over the head. Let me prepare the sardines." Once I had laid the little fish out on a plate and liberally salted them with salt packs I had earlier procured from my local fast food chain (iodized salt, by the way, works best while the kosher salt seems lacking in allowing the smelts to fully deliver their reviving power), I looked about the room for something to knock Dr. Jeepers over the head with. I settled on an old mop handle and after giving Dr. Jeepers clear warning so as to prepare himself for unconsciousness, I proceeded to strike him over the head, three, four, five and finally a sixth time before he collapsed to the ground, moaning and his legs twitching slightly as the fainting simulation took control of his mind and body.
 Unfortunately, I realized too late that I didn't take my own advice and wrap a towel around the mop handle to lessen the percussive blow to the scalp, but as I could detect no blood upon the linoleum, I continued with the experiment. Bending down, I deftly and gently inserted two salted sardines, one in each nostril and stood back to watch the process take effect. Dr. Jeepers seemed to sputter a few times, his tongue lolled out of his mouth a bit, his eyes rolled around much like marbles on a plate, there were then some guttural utterances before he blew the two sardines out of his nose, turned over and vomited copiously on my flooring. I hadn't prepared for this or I would've placed a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket by his head.
"Quickly," I barked into his face. "Tell me your earliest childhood memory and also, have you ever ridden a roller coaster with a tunnel feature and emerged crying uncontrollably and asking for your nanny, your teddy or a gravy separator with a clogged spout? Answer quickly. The regressive threapy will be wearing off in a moment." I'm sad to report Dr. Jeepers was not able to answer any of my questions and in fact, for a good twenty minutes, wasn't even able to speak. When he was finally able to put some words together he muttered only, "I will kill you, Haltiwanger, I will kill you." I took this as a good sign that he was working through some of his more aggressive tendencies and so, there's hope for him yet that he might lead a happy and fulfilling life.  Maybe a blow to the head as the one shown below might have had better results, but I must say, the salted sardines did not disappoint and if I had smelts, well then, I have no doubts my experiment would've tested through the roof.

In the end Dr. Jeepers was finally able to stand upon his own two feet without assistance from me. While he was slouched in a chair I took the liberty of placing the promised swim fins upon his feet and took advantage of his grogginess to steer him out the door.
"Always a pleasure, Jeepers," I exclaimed with a hearty clap upon his back. "Watch your step on the stairs now as you have flippers on your feet and, oh yes, don't forget the meerschaum pipe." I stuck it between his chattering teeth and sent him on his way. From my open window I could hear the comforting flip-flop of Jeepers as he tottered down the street and thought, "there by the grace of God and salted smelts goes a man who faced his fears and lived to tell the tale." I did hear him fall into some garbage cans and swear loudly but life's paths are strewn with all sorts of debris and hey, who said psychoanalysis would be easy.

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