The following is blog by a Coma resident excerpted as a community service by Coma New Daily.
Tenth Date: Is It Love or Black Death?
This “date” was a real world test of ways physicians can follow the CDC’s exhortation for clinicians to be on the look out for cases of the plague following a smattering of U.S. cases this summer. Are there reasons to be concerned? Will the general public question science or our sanity?
I selected this date from match.com on the basis of a refreshingly honest (RH) profile. Instead of photos of herself backpacking in Costa Rica and a profile essay balancing down-to-earth attitude and sharp wit, RH wrote that she had really high and unreasonable expectations for relationships — desiring immediate, deep intimacy, understanding and affection while substantially withholding each herself.
This was someone I could talk to about the plague.
After meeting up at Coma’s only restaurant catering to the polo set, RH told me she prefers weekend nights in where she gets bored and abuses a variety of substances.
Me: Have you recently been camping, hiking or spent time around dead rodents?
RH: I like to think most of my bad decisions involve men and not dead animals.
Me: How about any sudden onset of fever and malaise, accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting?
RH: What does this have to do with my startling combination of negativity and honesty that’s usually reserved for established relationships?
After dinner, we went for a sunset walk through one of Coma’s picturesque farm fields. There I told her about the U.S. cases of black death so far this year, and that it circulates among wild rodents and their fleas in rural and semirural areas in the United States.
RH: I’ve yet to determine whether or not operating on this level of transparency is actually productive. But I do know that it feels really good.
Despite the overwhelming dread that black death tends to instill in many lay people, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was not getting through RH’s shell and convincing her to honestly face this very real danger.
That’s when I realized that, as a clinician, all I needed to do was to help RH draw the analogy to some other part of her experience. Then, the physical concept of black death could become intuitively clear. She could make the connection and apply the analogous fear effectively and consistently.
Me: Having the plague is like no one reading your dating profile.
RH: I’m going to go home and put out rat traps.
As a dating clinician, my job is to create the conditions for a learning environment. But I like to think both RH and I learned something on our night out together.