Open Heart

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Open Heart

Black lettering appears over the white screen: "Earlier That Day -- 8:45 AM." Fade up on Pangborn in a patient's room. She's accompanied by a Buddhist monk. She exposits that she doesn't think the hospital has ever had a Rinpoche before, referring to the tiny old man in the bed. The monk takes up a large beaker and begins stirring the clear yellow liquid inside. He explains that "His Holiness" is diabetic, so he has to make sure the man's glucose level is stable before the surgery. Pangborn's eyes glaze as she asks, "Is that --?" "Urine," the monk answers matter-of-factly.

Cut to a hallway where a member of Kellerman's team is briefing a couple newbies on how he likes his OR set up. The IMDB helpfully tells me that this surgeon is named "Que Paso." Que Paso warns, "Guy like Kellerman, ritual is everything." He moves to the Easy-Bake sterilizer and opens it, as if to illustrate his point. Aghast, he asks where Kellerman's hat is. The newbies stare back blankly. Luckily, the crisis is averted as Que Paso spots the hat on a shelf. Holding it reverently, he tells them that Kellerman never operates without it. Ever. So something bad is going to happen to the hat. Que Paso tells them to pop it into the Easy-Bake. I think we can all see where this is going. Before they can stow the hat in the sterilizer, Kellerman comes flying through a door, pumped for surgery. He's in far too good a mood for something bad not to happen to his hat. Since his headwear isn't prepped and ready, Que Paso tries to stall him, distracting him with a CD of "mystical house" music he burned "special for the Dalai Lama." Wendy Whiner grabs the CD, muttering that the patient isn't the Dalai Lama, he's a Rinpoche -- "one notch down on the karmic ladder." She's met with questioning stares. "What?" she snaps. "I dated a Buddhist." Only a Buddhist would have the patience. Kellerman is paged to the Rinpoche's room. He sighs and rolls his eyes. I feel you, Doc.

The monk dips two fingers in the beaker, sticks them in his mouth, and smacks his lips thoughtfully. I have to wonder whether he received an adequate job description before signing on at the monastery. Pangborn explains to Kellerman what the monk is up to, saying that the Rinpoche is diabetic. Kellerman mutters for her to have the glucose level checked by means other than taste testing. Fishlips and Donge appear in the doorway, Fishlips sternly reminding them that food is not allowed in the room. Kellerman informs her that it's urine. Fishlips and Donge watch in horror as the monk samples the pee once more. A seasoned gourmand, he proclaims the glucose level to be a little high. From the Rinpoche's bedside, a nurse confirms it. Wow, I'm amazed. The way I'm "amazed" when I'm forced to watch an eight-year-old perform coin tricks at his birthday party.

Donge and Fishlips ask to have a word with Pangborn and Kellerman in the hallway. Donge promptly informs her that the HMO will not be paying for the Rinpoche's surgery. She counters that the monks are on a group plan. Ah, but the Rinpoche isn't part of their group. Pangborn says that Medicare will cover it then, since the Rinpoche is over sixty-five. Donge rolls his eyes at the sea of ignorance that threatens to overwhelm him, and counters that the Rinpoche is not a U.S. citizen, so tough nuts for him on the whole Medicare thing. Kellerman rolls his eyes in disgust. Fishlips points out that the Rinpoche can have the surgery when he returns to Bhutan, or they can ship him over to the county hospital for it. Pangborn considers the options for an eighth of a second before stating that Mission will cover the cost. Fishlips's eyes nearly drop out of her head. Pangborn claims that the hospital could use the good karma. Business decisions like that one should put the board of directors right at ease. Surprisingly, Fishlips beams, not at all disturbed by the unpractical reasoning. Predictably, Donge's panties bunch themselves into a large and glorious knot.

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