Sunday, September 16, 2012

Narcs and Other Government Spies

"Narc" (slang):  an undercover cop posing as your average friend, who gets to know you or your friends for the purpose of spying....Once he gets the information he needs for busting you and your little ring, all the people involved in the crime or scam are arrested.  (Yahoo Answers)  

     One afternoon several years ago I saw a new patient who complained of back pain.  He was in his early thirties, a pushy, well-dressed, muscular, man who was in a big hurry.  He had to get to Miami for a meeting, and his back just couldn't handle the long car drive without "help" from me.
     Patients who try to rush doctors are suspect.  Young patients with back pain are suspect.  Pushy patients are suspect.  Why would someone seek a highly trained person's advice, only to tell that person what to do?
     To make matters worse, this patient knew exactly what he wanted:  oxycodone.  It always worked, it was the only thing that worked--and other, safer, non-narcotic pain meds bothered his stomach.  Or he was allergic to them--I can't remember which.  The set-up is as old as medicine.
     I examined him thoroughly, especially his back, strength, reflexes.  The exam was normal, but he moaned a good deal, and did some bad mimicry of muscle spasms when I pressed my fingers into the rope-like ligaments along his spine.
     He was a faker.  It's not polite to say this directly, when I'm assessing a patient--and there's always the possibility that I could be wrong.  I suggested that he postpone his trip.  "Impossible," he informed me.  I recommended Tylenol.  "Doesn't work," he said.  I offered a back x-ray, in case he needed proof that the bony structures were normal.  "No time," he told me.
     Then he did the soft-doctor thing.  "Please, help me," he said sadly, holding his back.  He sat down--something patients with severe back pain never do (it puts a painful stretch on the low back).  "I know what works," he went on, "and I've been through this before.  If you don't give me what I need, it will only get worse, and I'll end up in the hospital."
     It goes without saying that I translated the phrase "Sorry, but no," in a multitude of ways--since he seemed not to hear me--and I guess I wasted his time by teaching him back-strengthening and abdominal exercises.  I recommended ice packs alternating, at half-hour intervals, with a heating pad.  "I hope you feel better soon," I said.
     After he left I realized that he must have been a narc.  "Yup," said one of the seasoned nurses, watching the patient leave.  "I've seen em before, and you're right.  His shoes are too shiny, and his clothes look dry-cleaned.  We don't have patients like that."
     This week, I spoke on the phone with an ultrasound technician, someone responding to my help-wanted ad.  She claimed to have had a lot of experience.  She knew how much money she wanted.  Every time I tried to explain the philosophy of my medical practice, and the details of the work--echocardiograms, vascular ultrasounds--she interrupted to ask, "Are you qualified to do these?" and "Do you have training?"
     "Why are you asking me these questions?"  I wanted to know.  "You should be telling me your qualifications."
     "In my experience," she answered with aplomb, "doctors do these studies and don't know how to read them.  I'm just trying to make sure you know what you're doing."
     Then she asked, again, "Do you know how to read echos?  Do you have training?  Do you?  Do you?"  It was very weird.
     The applicant didn't outline her experience, nor could she interview or start work for several weeks.  I don't expect her to show up--or if she does, it will be part of the act.  FBI agents don't know how to do ultrasounds, and their decoys aren't interested, so if I do meet her, she'll either avoid the equipment, or she'll grill me about it, to catch me in a lie.  The applicant said she knew how to use my machine, but I've never met an ultrasound applicant who claimed to have had experience with Sonosite.  It's a terrific unit, but it's not that common.  This woman had a know-it-all, take-charge, investigative attitude that is out of character for a genuine job applicant.
     The "applicant" was probably a government spy, someone programmed to trick me into saying something erroneous, part of the FBI's relentless determination to "catch me" in some act of incompetence, or fraud, or mistaken billing, or overuse of resources, or--well, what?  What exactly are they trying to catch?  What are they thinking?  I give up.  Did you hear me, FBI agents?  I give up.  Tell me what you want.  Give me the punch line.  
     Once again, I am speaking to the secretive, spying FBI agents who think they're going to find something criminal in my life.  You have exercised far too much liberty in your interpretation and implementation of government statutes, you are causing harm to me, and you are wasting taxpayers' money--please come out of the woodwork, introduce yourselves, and allow me to show you around my clinic.  I'd like to explain my practice.  I'd like to answer your questions.  There is no basis for your suspicions, whatever they are.
     The FBI's tactics remind me of Alfred Hitchcock's film, "Gaslight."  In this old movie, a husband says and does contradictory things, plotting out schemes that make his wife doubt her judgment, her memory, and ultimately, her sanity.  It's psychological warfare.  The husband's purpose is to drive the wife to suicide--so that he can take up with another woman.
     What woman would want a man like that?
     What American citizen wants FBI agents who act in the same, devious way--when it isn't called for?    The government agents' unwillingness to admit that I'm a respectable doctor stems from their need to see badness, or be right, or steal assets in so-called "settlements," or exercise a personal prejudice, or even to give vent to greed or envy.
     Come out and meet your prejudice, I say, before it eats you alive.  The real loser in "Gaslight" is the resolute, depraved husband--not his innocent wife.


  1. Always have known you are a brilliant woman, and many, especially men of a certain ilk or arrogance do not at all seem to find attractive for some reason, i.e.-because many men are just plain stupid, as in the FBI and whoever is behind the scenes in this scenario. Keep your chin up, do not let any of this get you down.

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