It’s Harder to Diagnose When Multiple Things Are Going On

“Where’s the pain?” the Doctor asked.

I pointed to my right abdomen.

“And when does it hurt?” he asked.

“Whenever I walk for any period of time,” I said, “also when I listen to the Counting Crows “Hanginaround,” or sometimes for no reason at all.”

“Counting Crows, eh?” the Doctor raised his brow.

“Yeah, it happened to me yesterday when the song came on. By the first chorus I felt like I hadta throw up.”

“Do you not like the song?”

“No, I do. It’s probably like in my third tier of favorite Counting Crows songs, but I like it.”

“Hmm,” the Doctor said.

Then they did some more tests with machines and blood.

“We’re stumped,” the Doctor told me later. “We think there might be an issue with your kidney, but that wouldn’t cause you to hurt because of a pop song. I guess we’ll have to keep looking.”

“That will mean more co-pays?” I asked.

“Of course.”

After a few more visits and tests, which cost money but reached no conclusions, I decided to finally look up a Counting Crows specialist. It turned out they had one at my healthcare provider, and I made an appointment.

The Specialist came into the exam room and looked like a normal physician, except he was very large and muscular, and I imagined he might be strong enough to force my body to work painlessly.

“So,” he looked me up and down on the paper-covered table, “Hanginaround.”

“Yeah,” I said, “it hurts so bad I can’t listen to it anymore. The doctors have no idea.”

“When multiple things are going on sometimes it’s harder to diagnose,” he said. “Tell me what the song means to you.”

“Alright,” I told him, “‘Hanginaround’ is a song about hangin around. Certain people like to hang around in one place instead of moving on to a different place. Back in 1999 when the song came out these people seemed to be generally celebrated. I was 18.9 years old at the time and would fantasize about hangin around with other hangin-arounders who supported each other in their hangin around and maybe one would be a girl and ya know…”

“Mmhmm, did it ever become a reality?”

“Sometimes I got very close. But it never seemed to match the way I imagined the hangin around in the song. Now I’m 38.9, and it doesn’t seem like hangin around is celebrated at all anymore. And now the dream seems impossible.”

“It never occurred to you that the Counting Crows’ ‘Hanginaround’ would end?”


“Alright, I know what to do.”

Then he put on the song, and I instantly felt the pain in my abdomen.

“This song,” he told me, “is actually about needing to move on. The hangin around is no good and makes him hate himself. The coda repeats over and over that he’s been hangin around for way way way way too long.”

“You’re right,” I said. “How did I not get that before?”

Then he flexed his arms, twisted me into position, pressed down on the pain spot and starting chanting “too long, too long, too long, too long, too long, too long, too long, too long, too long…”

“Okay enough!” I said.

“Feel better?” the Specialist asked after turning off the song.

“I can’t tell.”

“Good. Now I suggest seeing me twice a week for ‘Hanginaround’ therapy. You should also listen to the song twice a day on your own and chant to yourself, and then your pain will start to go away.”

“Okay,” I said and let him schedule me for the next appointment.

But I’d already decided I wasn’t gonna do it.

– October 2019, Boulder, CO

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