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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Guest Post: Tales from Cuyahoga 1 - Alternative Medicine

There are two types of mission stories – inspirational and funny. I like to save the inspirational ones for church talks.
- Reed Soper (previous guest posts)

(The following story is true. The names have been changed to protect all involved)

April 1, 1986

Four mormon missionaries are headed to the Parmatown Mall near Cleveland, Ohio.

Elder A and I had been companions for several weeks and were working together well. Prior to this companion-ship, I had served with Elder B. Somewhat coincidently, Elders A and B had served together prior to my companionship with Elder (1).  Elder B was now training a new missionary, Elder XX was a challenge, more so than your typical new missionary. Beyond resisting the training B was assigned to give, X was prone to obnoxious behavior. Because of this, B was frustrated and this led to our preparation day trip to the Parmatown mall. The original intent was to provide B with some pleasant distraction and run a bit of interference between he and X.

On the drive to the mall, X demonstrated some of his less endearing traits to A and me. Since this was our first meeting, A and I made several inquiries to X about his background and interests. His answers were sarcastic (and not in a good way). This behavior gave us insight into B's frustrations (2). He also made several references to his belief that B had a fundamental misunderstanding of how to go about missionary work. While I firmly believe that no one is above reproach, hearing a new missionary diss his trainer seemed inappropriate. There was a sense throughout the mission-issued Chevrolet Cavalier (3) that something ought to be done. A scheme was concocted that drew upon all the skills and maturity that our 20-year old minds could muster.

As we neared the mall, B asked how X was feeling. X had recently been diagnosed with an ear infection and had been prescribed Tylenol 3 (4) for the pain. X replied that it was about the same and he had doubts that his medication was benefiting him. B, one of the most clever people I know, stated that he had read a study that taking pain pills internally diluted (5) their pain-relieving effects and there were better ways to administer these medicines. A, not one step behind B in cleverness, mentioned that he had read the same article and that the best way to relieve pain was to fasten the pill directly to the skin. A gave me a knowing look and this April Fool's day (6) joke was off and running. X was skeptical but A,  B and I all chimed in that advances were always being made in modern medicine and what did he have to lose.

We got to the mall and went to the member-owned Orange Julius store and asked to borrow their scotch tape. A took about a 2 inch piece of tape and carefully fastened the Tylenol 3 to it (7). A stated that it was important to have the imprinted letters of the word “Tylenol” on the tablet touch the skin, as this was how the medicine traveled from the pill through the skin and to the affected area (8). A maintained that the pill must be attached to X's left temple for maximum effectiveness. For the balance of our trip to the mall, X had a pill taped to his head. For the rest of the day, X had a pill taped to his head. For the next three days, X had a pill taped to his head. This included multiple visits to member's homes (9) as well as several hours of tracting (10).

The most amazing part of it all was that X believed that it worked (11).

(1) If this genealogy of companionships is confusing, please contact me directly and I will draw a diagram.
(2) Forgive me for not going into great detail about his responses, dear reader. It has been a long time and some of the specifics are a bit hazy.
(3) If you had a car, it was either a Chevy Cavalier or a Ford Tempo with absolutely no optional equipment.
(4) Tylenol 3 "Return of the Pain Reliever."
(5) The pill would break down and travel through the bloodstream all over the body. There is at least a scrap of logic to this, right?
(6) Full disclosure – we realized it was April 1st midway through this practical joke but we took full calendrical advantage.
(7) As B and I watched A, with a surgeon's precision, stick the pill to the tape, it was almost more than we could take. We bit a hasty retreat and cracked up for a minute before regaining composure and rejoining the group.
(8) A coming up with the need for the imprinted letters on the pill to touch the skin to allow for transfer of the medication from the pill to the patient was on the fly and sheer genius. He also told X that in 24 hours, the pill would be merely an empty shell, devoid of any pain relieving ingredients and should be carefully replaced.
(9) The members were briefed beforehand. Everyone wants in on a good April Fool's Day joke.
(10) Word is that a discussion was also taught with taped pill in place. I cannot confirm this.
(11) We did fully disclose the nature of the joke to X after three days. He was a pretty good sport about it. No animals, humans or testimonies were harmed in the perpetration of this joke.

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