George and Hilly

DR. SELMAN: It’s been two months. So what’s going on?

HILLY: Where’s the Effexor? Get the Effexor. Immediately. Give it to him.

DR. SELMAN: Why?

HILLY: Well, George has been a mess and—bless his sweet heart—he’s been really sick. He’s had shingles. We went to Florida for a long weekend—we stayed in the most gorgeous house you could ever imagine in your life, right on the beach. It was the most idyllic weekend in the whole entire world. The day after we came back—I had to go on a business trip for two weeks—George developed shingles. He was on all of this medication, and it worsened his stomach problems; he was on painkillers and antibiotics and he couldn’t eat, because of the pain in his ear and mouth. It’s just been lingering. I think the stress from the illness worsens his day-to-day stress. It just doesn’t stop. He can’t even speak—he sits there, almost in a fetal position. In addition, he spent the last five nights in a hotel, because he can’t take the air in the apartment, can’t sleep. And so at 5 o’clock in the morning, he storms out in a fit of rage—

GEORGE: Uhhh. Let’s just start over. O.K.! I haven’t been able to sleep well in the apartment for 18 months. Can’t breathe in there. Severe allergies. Frustration—not rage. Manhattan’s fault. Two months ago, I flew out to L.A. Friend of mine from college and I went to the Chateau Marmont—he had some mushroom cookies, and we were having lots of drinks, laughing, maybe 20 people there, a few celebrities, an Olsen twin. We got pretty loud, obnoxious. I had the next day to lounge by the pool, drank Bloody Marys. I flew back, drank Bloody Marys, left my toilet kit on the plane, went out that night to Siberia, stayed very late. Next night, Hilly and I had some drinks, took a cab out to Hangar 11 or something at J.F.K., got my toilet kit and went back to Siberia again—stayed even later. So I guess my immune system might have been a little compromised.

[Silence.]

GEORGE: And I had projects, work obligations, people on my case—all kinds of pressure. A lot of it was in my head. At one point, I felt like I was dealing with the Mafia or loan sharks—remember the guy gets his head in a vise in Casino? Like that, but via e-mail. These e-mails felt so cold-blooded, but I was reading too much into them. I ended up having two and a half panic attacks. Saying “I don’t know what I’m gonna do!” over and over, waking up Hilly. Felt really paranoid. I’m sure this has been horrible for Hilly.

DR. SELMAN: Where did you develop the shingles?

GEORGE: First I got some kind of cyst on my chin and my ear started to hurt—I thought I had swimmer’s ear. Then, back in New York, this redness streaked across my face. A few days later, I looked like the Elephant Man. About 10 days of excruciating pain. Sill comes and goes. A slight throbbing—I feel it right now, little bit, here on the chin. On the walk over here, it attacked me.

DR. SELMAN: What are you taking for it?

GEORGE: Nothing now. Doctor said the shingles would clear up in a month. But he said if these sensations are still there in two weeks, I should see a neurologist.

DR. SELMAN: I can give you something. Sounds like you have post-herpetic neuralgia.

GEORGE: Right, I don’t know if we’re at that stage yet.

DR. SELMAN: Sounds like post-herpetic neuralgia.

GEORGE: O.K., but I’m hoping that we’re not at the post-herpetic neuralgia stage yet.

DR. SELMAN: It may go away. I’ll give you some Lyrica—it’ll help.