Walk Down Misery Street

Dr. DJ


Work in ED opened a lot of new things for me.

In a way, I started to pay much more attention to the physiological aspect of drug and alcohol addiction.  I discovered how and why drugs and alcohol affect not only our psyche but the liver, kidneys, and heart, and why during withdrawals there is a heightened risk of delirium tremens and epileptic seizures.

Furthermore, while working in ED, I suddenly discovered a magical world of… American music! One of the doctors, Michael R., holding a senior administrative position in the department, offered me a free desk with a computer in the Administrator’s office. I had an opportunity to spend part of the day inside the “yellow gown” zone, and the rest working on a computer in this quiet office, alongside Dr. Michael.

Soon, I learned that Dr. Michael was a radio host at a music station, after which he decided to change the “record” in his life, graduated from medical school, and became a surgeon. Dr. Michael, however, did not bid farewell to music. In our shared office, while doing paperwork or working on the computer, he listened to radio shows on his cell phone, where old and new hits were played, critics discussed music pieces, and hosts interviewed musicians.

Once, as a familiar melody from my favorite groups—the Doors—filled the air, I could not help myself and started singing along: “People are strange when you’re a stranger…”

“When you’re straaange…” Dr. Michael joined in.

We simultaneously looked at each other. By the expression on his face I recognized that my eyes shone with the same enthusiastic excitement as his. It’s like the gates had burst open. I started telling him about how in my youth in Russia I was a rock fanatic, learning all the song lyrics by heart from the Rolling Stones to Queen, singing them to my guitar, completely clueless to their meaning as I did not speak English. I related to him how as a teen I “was a traitor to my homeland,” spending countless hours by the record store where I exchanged, bought, and sold Western rock—“smuggling,” which resulted in the police arresting me a few times.