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This morning, I was on the bus on the way to the infirmary, and I puked. Now, I didn't spew it all over the place, I just figured I could have the bus driver stop and I'd puke right outside. Unfortunately, with a mouthful of puke, it's hard to ask someone to signal the bus driver to stop the bus. I got off at the next stop about a minute later (yeah, gross) and let it all out in a trash can. I got back on the bus and went to the infirmary.

I talked with the nurse for a while, until I threw up again (this time in a proper receptacle). She decided that because of my color (yellow) and my digestive system (both smelly and painful) it was time for me to lie down and have some tests. I asked her specifically, what she thought she needed to test for, and she told me that the signs point to either a normal bug (you know, the 24 hour kind that makes you barf and then goes away) or something more serious. Pressing on, I asked her what "more serious" meant. She said that it might be either Jaundice or Hepatitis A. A little scared by this, I asked for a description of each, which was wholly uninteresting. I asked what values in the tests would indicate this. She then said something which made me laugh so hard I puked again. As I heard it, she said that they were going to see if Billy Ruben was in my urine. Honestly, I laughed so much the woman probably thought I was crazy... until I said (I'm serious) "Who's Billy Ruben, and why would he be in my urine?"

She explained to me what bilirubin is as I tried (and failed) to contain my now painful laughter. Briefly, it is a product of the breakdown of red blood cells. Old cells are normally broken down into bilirubin in the blood stream, and the bilirubin is absorbed and filtered in the liver. If there are problems with the liver, the bilirubin is handed off to the urine and told to get out of town. So, the test for bilirubin is a test for liver malfunction. She felt satisfied with her answer and with the cessation of my laughter.

Mistaking her pause as an indication that I should comment, I pointed out, "You know, Billy Ruben sounds like an escaped convict... or a country music singer." She looked at me, dismayed, and I could clearly tell that she was now thinking "this boy is crazy." "Does that ever happen?" I continued, "One day you're testing a urine sample and all of a sudden, 'Hi, kids! I'm Billy Ruben, and I'd like to play you a little song!' and then he starts to play his little guitar?" She had to lean against a file cabinet to keep from falling as my Billy Ruben impression hit its stride, accompanied by country air-guitar and hip swagger I didn't know I even had.

I passed the next hour lying in a bed and trying to make conversation with the nurses and the girl in the other bed, whose name I never found out. She was less than receptive to me, so I adopted it as my duty to try to get her out of the infirmary as soon as possible. I just kept asking her creepy questions such as, "Do you think you'll ever make it out alive? I don't think I will," and, "They say there's an escaped prisoner on the loose in this area; his name is Billy Ruben. Have you heard of him?"

Then a nurse came in to take my blood. I mentioned being a waiter and hating it when I spill sauce on my white shirt; then I asked her if she ever got blood all over her white jacket. This was more for my roommate's benefit than for the nurse, and I think it worked (I'll explain later). I tried giving blood from my left arm first, which failed entirely. Nurse Magoo missed the vein. I'm used to getting blood drawn, so I didn't mind watching as she wrenched the point around and searched for her target. She eventually gave up and stuck my right arm which bled like a champ.

I decided that now was my time to make my double room a single. "Wow, did you hear all that? I hope you're not having blood work done, 'cause Thursday is apparently the 2 for 1 special. She had to scrape all over the place in my left arm before she changed to my right." Roommate's uncomfortable breathing let me know I was on the right path. "Stabbing my right arm sure did the trick, though," I winced to keep from laughing as I delivered the line, "I haven't seen someone bleed like that since grade school." Within minutes, she had gotten up and told the nurse she'd rather sleep it off at home.

When the nurse analyzed my urine sample, I asked if she had found Billy (I got a lot of mileage out of this one). "What?" "Have you found Billy, Billy Ruben. The other nurse said you were looking for a guy named Billy. She said he might be hiding in my urine." She had her laugh as well. As the results from the urine test were fine and half of the blood work had to wait until tomorrow, I was free to go. I helped the urine-nurse (UriNurse?) fold up my sheets and blanket, which scored me a free Gatorade.

As I left, I found out the results of the half of the blood work that had been done. Apparently my white blood cell count is at 16 (the normal range is 5-11). This means, ambiguously, that something is wrong, and my body is working to correct it. I feel fine now, but I'm still a little sleepy. However, this stay at the infirmary may have cost me a pretty penny, and I may have to go on the lamb with Billy.

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