For the most part, seeing is believing.

But if you still aren’t sure: always get a third opinion.


A patient, whose wife had recently died, once called for an appointment earlier than his usual expected return interval. He said he was concerned about his overall status, not necessarily his heart however, but was making the rounds of his doctors to get a comprehensive evaluation.

The problem originated about a week before, one evening at dusk, as he was driving down an isolated potato farm road near Bridgehampton when he had spotted a Llama trotting along the roadside at full gallop. The scenario was made even more bizarre by the fact that the Llama was being trailed by a little goat, which had to take four or five steps in a desperate struggle to keep pace with each single step being made by the long striding leader.

The scene as he explained it was being surrealistically played out against a hazy summer sunset, in a totally incongruous situation for a rural area whose only livestock, the cow, had disappeared years ago with the demise of dairy farming. It was a little goat, chasing a Llama, through a misty sunset along a potato farm road on Eastern Long Island.

Realizing he had not been transported to Oz but thinking instead he was having a minor stroke that was manifesting itself as a hallucination; he checked into the emergency room demanding a CAT scan of his brain. He literally wanted to have his head examined. The doctors told him he was fine, then pretty much dismissed his symptoms as being related to hysteria, grief, and depression.

Insisting however that the vision was all too real, the man was then seeking some validation for his sanity from his regular doctors in whom he seemed to have more faith, as opposed to trusting unknown ED physicians who did not know him quite as well.

I promptly reassured him there was nothing at all wrong and I could guarantee he was perfectly fine without even doing a physical exam.

I said:

  • You should have come to me in the first place. I could have told you that you were OK and didn’t’ need any expensive testing.
  • How can you be so sure?
  • Because I know the woman who owns the animals.

The eccentric old woman who owned the temporarily escaped creatures also happened to be one of my patients. I told him that I had once seen her Llama and her goat in a pen behind her home when I went to make a house call. What I did not tell him was that the animals were not the least of what I saw in that eclectic cluttered domicile. She also owned cats, dogs, pigeons, raccoons, chickens, hamsters, and goldfish; as well as being a quintessential hoarder who was living in a heap of junk. The Llama and the goat were just the tip of an enormous dysfunctional domestic ice-berg that had been created over eighty years of quirky behavioral patterns and unchecked eccentricity. This made both the interior as well as the exterior of the house a monument to one woman’s opinion of good taste.

As well as being an accidental effort to reduplicate Noah’s ark; it was also a world of hundreds of five-and-dime store trinkets, cheap carnival prizes and broken appliances.




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