Patient. Until I’m Not.

I got a unique look at myself from the outside the other day. It happened like this: I had a full-blown meltdown in public.

From the inside, it made perfect sense, because it had been building and building and building for hours. So the transition, for me, didn’t seem very abrupt. It was simply the last freakin’ straw.

But from the outside, I must have looked like I was completely and utterly unhinged. “What’s her problem? She was fine a second ago…”

I think most people would say I’m a patient, tolerant person. I take pride in those qualities. But every once in a while, you’ll go too far, and the Kraken gets unleashed.

I had a cold. A bad cold. And I had been struggling with it for three, count ‘em, three weeks. I couldn’t take it anymore. But my doctor had retried. And the new one I want to start seeing wasn’t taking new patients until February. I didn’t want to start up with a third, only to switch a month later. What a hassle. So I decided to go to an urgent care clinic. There’d be no loyalties to break there, right? They live for walk ins.

Indeed they must, because the waiting room was filled to overflowing with what looked like the walking dead. I was informed there would be an hour and a half wait. Sigh.

But what the heck. I just needed someone to prescribe me a z-pack and some cough medication, so when I finally got in, it should only take about 5 minutes. Worth it.

They gave me some “please don’t try to sue us” forms to fill out. Which I did. But even in my oversick, addled brain, I sensed that something was weird. Oh. They didn’t have me fill out anything about my medical history. Uh, don’t they care? They ought to care.

But I was so sick. I asked at the desk. They said to each other, “Oh, she’s urgent care.” The way they said “urgent” led me to believe that we, the urgent ones, actually were their lowest priorities. I was told they’d take care of that when I was called in.

So I settled back in my chair, between the man who was shouting that the birth date on his birth certificate wasn’t really when he was born, and the defeated looking woman with the five kids with green snot running out of their noses. And I think I dozed off out of sheer self-preservation.

Two hours later, I was called in. The usual stuff. Weight. Temperature. Blood pressure. Then the lady sits in front of a computer and starts asking me medical history questions. My answers never quite seemed to fit anything in her drop down menu. So she’d click “other” and have to type things in. Which was just dandy, because she couldn’t spell. I had to spell everything for her, and she kept stopping me in the middle and making me repeat it over, because she was throwing in random letters that I hadn’t said. I wanted to snatch the keyboard from her and do it my danged self. Heaven only knows what their file now says about me.

Thirty minutes later, she tells me the nurse practitioner will be in in a moment. I fell asleep again. When she finally comes in, the nurse practitioner confirms that I am, indeed, very sick. And she prescribes, as predicted, a z-pack and some cough medicine.

She also says she’ll write a doctor’s note so I can miss two days of work, which makes me want to kiss her on the lips. (In Florida, a right to work state, you practically have to be bleeding out of two of the five major orifices before a doctor will even consider writing such a note. God, I love the left coast!)

She says someone will come in and get my pharmacy info and give me the note. And then I can go. Yay!

Indeed, the same illiterate woman comes in, asks me my pharmacy info, and leaves without saying a word, and without giving me the note. I fall back asleep.

I wake up with a snort, look at my phone, and realize I’ve been in the clinic for 3 ½ hours. Seriously? I mean, what the actual F is the hold up? I open the door. I try flagging several staff people as they walk by, not meeting my eyes. I finally get someone I haven’t seen before, and I burst into tears and say, “Look, I’m supposed to have two prescriptions and a doctor’s note, and I’ve been here for 3 ½ hours, and I just want to go home!”

Much scrambling around. Turns out the prescriptions had been called in ages ago. But no one can find the note. They track down the NP, and she confirms that she wrote the note ages ago. Why had nobody printed it out and sent me off? Good freakin’ question.

The note was stuck in the printing queue. The staff had somehow forgotten I was there, and apparently, even though the place was overcrowded, they didn’t find it at all odd that some random woman was snoring in one of their exam rooms.

Finally, the note is printed out and handed to me, but in my sick fog, I can’t find the exit. The woman offers to show me out. Tears are running down my face. She stops. Says I look hungry and thirsty. Offers me a bottle of water and a granola bar.

I look at her. I screech, “I. Just. Want. To go. HOME!!!!!!!!”

All activity around me stops. I’m shown the door.

And I realize that from the inside, what appeared like a well-deserved, slow-building, epic last stand, from the outside probably looked like an abrupt and unexpected temper tantrum. Because I really am a patient person. Until I’m not.

When I got home, I finally read the note, and it only gives me one day off work instead of the promised two. Sigh. Whatever.

puu_oo_cropped

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Gently Down the Stream

Row, row, Row your boat…

Ugh. I have a cold. And it’s a weird one. No stuffy nose. No fever. A sore throat for about 20 minutes. Then, chest congestion and coughing, coughing, coughing for weeks. And the worst part: vertigo.

The ground seems to be rolling like a storm-tossed sea. And whenever I turn to look at something, the rest of the planet seems to lag about a second and a half behind me. It’s messing with my head. I can’t think straight. I can’t focus. I can’t blog. And I’m tired. I’m so very tired.

And yet, here I am, at work. In a stupor. And my ever-lengthening personal to-do list is a source of anxiety. I feel like I’m not keeping up with my end of the marriage. All I want to do is sleep.

And, is it a full moon? It must be. Because everything is weird. I feel like no one, including my computer, is understanding anything I say. I’m struggling to make myself clear. And people are acting strange. No. It’s not a full moon. In fact, we’re approaching a new moon. Oh, who cares? Nothing seems real.

It’s raining. A jeep stalls on my drawbridge, backing up traffic. I call a tow truck.

Did I call the tow truck? I remember calling someone… I think I called a tow truck. Oh. Here comes the tow truck. Somebody must have called a tow truck. But is it the tow truck I called? Should I call off my tow truck? Screw it. They’ll figure it out.

It’s time to go home. I shouldn’t be driving. But I want to go home. My socks are wet. How did my socks get wet? Now my feet feel all clammy. Cough.

Yay. I made it home. The dogs are happy to see me. I feel like I’m in the eye of a puppy hurricane. I’m not sure, but I think one or two of them even levitated for a minute there. I let them out to do their business. I’m glad someone is taking care of business.

My husband is off finding us a replacement car for the one that got totaled a few weeks ago by an unrepentant idiot. I should be helping. I can’t even seem to help myself.

I let the dogs back in, and I head for bed, peeling my wet socks off my feet along the way. No human being can hug you as good as your mattress can. Finally, I can go to sleep.

Except, no. I can’t. I have to pee. Groan.

I get up. I head for the bathroom. I trip over one of the dogs and land flat on my face in the hallway. It’s the only thing I’ve done all day that doesn’t seem to be in slow motion.

My back. I wrenched my back. God, but it hurts.

Fuck my life.

I get up. Slowly. Carefully.

The dog refuses to apologize.

I go into the bathroom. I pee. I decide to take a leftover pain pill from a previous klutzy escapade as a preemptive strike for the back pain that’s headed my way. It’s hard core. It’s heavy duty. Don’t try this at home.

I crawl back into bed and sleep overtakes me.

Gently down the stream…

My dreams are the stuff of a Dali painting. But I don’t care. I’m asleep.

Until about midnight, when I hear my husband letting the dogs out. I’m sure he’s been home for many hours. I get up.

My back feels okay. My feet are dry. I’m warm. I’m home. I’m not as dizzy as I was. I still have the cough, but hey… progress. I’ll take it.

I putter cautiously into the kitchen, where my husband stands at the door, waiting for the dogs. I snuggle into his arms.

“Is this a dream?” I say, sleepily.

Because everything is so good. I love my life now. I love my husband. I love my dogs. I love my house. I love my job. Everything is just so freaking good.

“No,” he whispers. “You’re awake.”

“Thank you for being real.” I say. And I go back to bed.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream…

Now, if I could just get past this cold.

row your boat

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Mental Health Days

Raise your hand if you’ve NEVER, not even once, called in sick to work or school when you’re weren’t technically sick. Anyone? Anyone? (I didn’t think so.)

Back before I was a bridgetender, I pretty much hated every job I had. And I called in sick a lot. Of course, I was younger then, and believed I could get another job quickly and easily, even if I pushed my luck. It also never occurred to me that catastrophic health problems could ever be in my future, and that it might be a good idea to hoard my sick days.

But every once in a while, you just need a break. You know? (Of course you do.)

I think the need for mental health days has increased over time. The world is just too crowded and there’s too much information flying at us from every direction. The pressure is building. It becomes increasingly impossible to keep up, emotionally, financially, politically, and culturally.

Sometimes you just need to push the reset button. Sneak out and see a movie. Or sleep in and hug your dog. Or take a walk in the woods. Or read a good book.

And that’s okay. If you checking out for just one day means the world will stop spinning, then you seriously need to learn how to delegate. Just sayin’.

slow down, relax, take it easy

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Knock, Knock, Knocking on Mortality’s Door

Spring is a time when life feels so abundant. Flowers are blooming and there are baby animals everywhere. Spring, for me, is the most hopeful time of the year. I went decades without experiencing it because I lived in Florida. Now that I am in Seattle, I have that hope once again, and I will never, ever take it for granted. It’s such a gift.

But this has been a strange spring. Mortality seems to be trying to get my attention of late. A dear friend of mine has been in and out of the hospital as his kidneys are failing. This, of course, has me extremely worried. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. He’s so young. Too young to be going through this. And then Don Rickles goes and dies of kidney failure. The last of the rat pack, reminding me that this is a big deal.

And then the other day, I Googled an ex-boyfriend just out of curiosity, only to discover that he died two years ago. He also managed to have nine children in the 25 years since I last saw him. But it’s a strange feeling, having boyfriends old enough to kick the bucket.

As I write this, I’m worried about my sister, who goes in for (granted, routine) surgery tomorrow. She’s my last sibling. She’s not worried. But just in case, I called her just now to tell her I love her, and to say that if she up and dies on me, I’m going to be really pissed off. Update: She did just fine and is recovering nicely.

I guess the older you get, the more this type of stuff enters your world–contemporaries dying, or having close calls. It makes life very bittersweet, but all the more precious for the frequent reminders that it’s all so finite.

Spring

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I’b Sigck :(

Two hours before quitting time on Friday I get this tickle in my throat. You know the one. That little portent of doom that will soon take over your whole world, and you can’t do anything about it.

I had such plans. The weather was going to be great. I was going to take the dogs to an off leash park. I was going to sit in the back yard and soak up the sun. I even contemplated washing the car.

On the way home I stopped at the pharmacy for orange juice, ibuprofen and Nyquil. Supplies for the coming siege. Get them now or not at all. That’s one of the sucky things about being single. By the time I got home I had a fever.

 cold

I spent the entire weekend flat on my back, except when the dogs insisted on being fed. Heartless bastards. But I must say they kept me company during my frequent hot baths. “Why is mommy trying to boil herself?” “And who will feed us if she drowns?” they said to each other with looks of great concern as they kept the bathmat warm and listened to my moans.

I encased myself in flannel. I had strange dreams. You know your snoring is bad when it even wakes you up. My nostrils slammed shut. I contemplated marrying my Neti Pot, but then I realized my last name would then be Pot, and that would never do.

The worst part about it is that I didn’t like the person who gave me this cold even before she gave it to me. Will the abuse never end? Honestly.

I have vague memories of talking to a friend who tried to calmly explain to me why boiling my head in a vat of chicken soup would be a bad idea. “The soup is supposed to go in you. You’re not supposed to go in the soup.” It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Times like these, I really miss my mother. She was great when I was sick. I want sympathy. I turn into a whiny brat when I’m feeling punk. Sniffle. I need a hug.

head-cold3

[Image credit: jnassi.com]

Sick when you’re Single

Most of the time I like living alone. The only exceptions are during major holidays or when I’m sick. Right now I’ve got the head cold from hell and disgusting substances seem to be flowing from every orifice. I’m weak as a kitten and I keep forgetting to eat. I am miserable. Lord, take me now.

Sadly, there is no one to hear my whining and moaning, no one to make me chicken soup, no little annoying bell I can ring. If I run out of orange juice, I’m out of luck. I can only afford to have so many pizzas delivered.

My only comfort is my dogs and my flannel, and I’m worried that if I die the dogs will chew through the flannel in no time. Where’s the loyalty?

There’s nothing quite as depressing as being pathetic and snotty all by yourself. I want my mommy.

If there’s no blog entry here tomorrow, call 911.

sickchild

[image credit: multiplemayhemmamma.com]

Confession: I Can be a Sick Puppy.

No, I don’t pull the wings off flies or flash people from under a trench coat, but apparently I AM the only human being willing to admit that, yes, I DO slow down to look at traffic accidents. So feel free to blame me for every traffic jam you’ve been in since about 1970. I can take it.

I don’t know what it is about traffic accidents. Maybe they remind me how lucky I am at that moment in time. Maybe I’m trying to figure out how it happened so I can avoid it myself. Maybe it’s the same thing that attracts moths to flames. I couldn’t tell you.

But I’ll also confess that I have an obsession with serial killers. I read everything I can about them. I think that’s more explainable. Since I don’t have a violent bone in my body, I’m fascinated with finding out what could possibly cause a human being to become that sick and twisted.

And reality shows? I can’t get enough of those, either. It’s more than just a throwback to the Bread and Circus concept of ancient Rome. It’s that I can’t look away because I keep hoping I’ll learn why it is people are willing to humiliate themselves in that fashion. The context of the show is much less important to me than the fact that people are making utter fools of themselves on national television. I guess, in their own way, they are human car wrecks, so I just have to slow down and bear witness.

Oh, and one last thing! I am the only person I know who seems to be willing to take ownership of my farts. There. I’ve said it. You’re excused.