Monday, January 23, 2012


They want to remove my gall bladder.

The specialists who have made this decision have not actually examined me. They have looked at the reports of an extravagant number of imaging procedures and have given their advice from a distance of four feet in a period of five minutes or less.

Everything else having to do with this advice is delegated to receptionists and physicians’ assistants, paramedical personnel whose duty apparently is to be pleasant.

“I’m a sick man...a mean man,” Dostoyevsky writes in Notes From Underground. “There’s nothing attractive about me. I think there’s something wrong with my liver.”

The gall bladder, as you may know, is where the liver stores bile, something which assists digestion. Apparently my gall bladder is full of stones which cause a great deal of discomfort and, according to literary wisdom, a bad disposition.

I could almost diagnose myself with Webster’s synonyms for the word bilious: Peevish, bearish, ill-tempered, cantankerous, disagreeable, dyspeptic, ill-humored, ill-natured, ornery, surly, petulant, cranky, cross, grumpy, huffy, irascible, peevish, testy and waspy.

Not true, you say? You believe I am cheerful and nice?

It’s an act. Webster has me pegged.

What I wonder is whether this bad nature will change if and when my gall bladder is gone. There are lots of synonyms for the word bilious, but not too many antonyms: amiable, good-humored, good-natured, good-tempered.