It’s been a while, and let me explain. First, it turns out teaching high school is kind of a lot of work. I naively underestimated just how much work, but also–and I hope I don’t sound like too much of a conspiracy theorist–events have been conspiring against me. A few weeks ago, I was going to go to something called The Hairy Man Festival. I felt almost duty bound to go and take some truly horrifying pictures to share with you all, but, alas, it got rained out. I wasn’t clear on the makeup dates and cancellation policies, so I couldn’t follow up. Next, I heard about a musical, live action version of the Evil Dead movies, and after I asked someone to get me a ticket, I developed a cough and a low grade fever.
This last thing presents a particular problem because I don’t know how to find a doctor in a new city. When I was in Tallahassee, my permanent retainer broke, leaving one side glued in place and the other side just a loose, exposed wire that poked me in the fleshy parts of my mouth. I called several orthodontists, none of whom were taking new patients at that time. So, what I considered to be a dental emergency was, to them, a personal problem. It took about two days before I got someone to see me, and that guy basically put a really clean pair of pliers in my mouth and pulled hard. There are things that I can be a bit of a princess about, but if I’d known that was the best solution to my problem, I’d have grabbed my toolbox and invited my friend Ginger over to take care of that problem two days ago so I could eat a damn sandwich in peace, you know?
So, I’m sick in a new-ish city, and since I teach school there’s no telling what kind of germs I’ve been exposed to. My students are great, but it’s cold and flu season, which means they’re also human petri dishes, and I live in Swine Flu country. My roommate told me about these clinics that can be found in CVS pharmacies, and there was one about 5 miles from my house. When a few attempts to contact doctors’ offices by my house didn’t pan out, I headed to CVS.
The fact that I was exhausted and sweaty after my five minute drive was a bad sign. I waited about half an hour before a woman with rainbow colored glasses and no discernible upper lip called me into her office. Let me be clear: she had made an attempt to draw an upper lip, and her efforts conveyed the idea of lips. But the arcs were small-ish and way too far apart to have been real.
Because ’tis the season, I agreed to have a flu test. The test involves a nasal swab, which I was fine with until the moment that the swab actually penetrated my nostril. Because THAT is the moment that this lipless sadist in a lab coat decided to tell me, “This will be a little bit uncomfortable.”
That honestly hadn’t occurred to me. Mostly because I’ve watched a lot of CSI where a cheek swab seems like a fairly gentle rub that doesn’t involve Marg Helgenberger sticking her gloved hand halfway down someone’s throat. But if you’re going to issue a warning that “this will be a little bit uncomfortable,” then it needs to come in advance of the event. So I can brace myself. Or you just let me figure it out, hoping that I started out oblivious and therefore relaxed, which might make the process easier. But now, I’m flinching and freaking out at the exact moment she’s trying to jab something up my nose.
And then she hits something solid. I don’t know what. The side of my nasal cavity, some cartilage, hard to say. But she kept jabbing away until tears started coming to my eyes and I grabbed her wrist. I was just going to make her slow down and readjust, but she kept trying to push forward, so I pulled on her wrist until she took the swab out. Her response: “Well, it’s supposed to go further in than that, but maybe that will do.” So this is what it’s like to be at war with your medical professional? She just stabbed me in the face with an incredibly long Q-tip, made me cry, and now she’s going to express disgust when I refused to let her poke a hole in something inside my face?
We had a mildly combative Q and A session while we waited for my results. I told her I was taking some generic cold medicine, and she demanded the name. I didn’t know. I thought the box just said “Cold Medicine” as though that was the name. It’s generic. It’s a yellow box. She works in a place that sells tons of nameless stuff like that, why does she think it’s crazy that I can’t be more specific? After a tense ten minutes, she confirmed that it’s the flu, and I grabbed my things and left.
I’ve spent three days almost entirely in bed, which is more awesome in theory than in practice. I also learned that Maury Povich is still doing that “I Slept With a Bunch of People. Which One is My Baby’s Father?” episodes that seem to be his specialty and keep at least one DNA testing center busy. There are some new faces on General Hospital, and yet it seems like they’re still doing the same plotlines they were doing when I was in college. I still find it impossible to watch The View. My roommate was very supportive and bought me some juice with a ton of vitamin C and then politely asked if I confine my germ-infested self to my room until I am no longer contagious. Fair enough, really.
I’m going slightly stir crazy is what I’m saying, and after a lot of fluids and plenty of sleep, I think I might just feel healthy enough to make to the Evil Dead musical tomorrow night.
UPDATE: I just called my best friend, who is a doctor in Phoenix. She reminded me that she diagnosed me with flu via text message without sticking anything up my nose. This is not the first over the phone medical diagnosis she’s given me that’s been spot on either. I was worried that I should have a doctor’s note for work because I missed three days, but I wonder if they would just accept text messages from her in future…