The day was agonizingly beautiful. The sky was an endless robin’s egg and the bright sun bade me release t
he bonds of my apartment walls for the worthier pastures of mass transit and dumpster treasure. What is 87 F (31 C) for those of us seeking adventure, the Holy Grail, and something besides potato chips in our cupboards? Apparently, 87 F is a lot, as I felt all 220 pounds of my glorious body begin to broil medium well in the afternoon sun. Three huge bottles of dish washing liquid, Lisa Frank magnets, and a squished bottle of generic fruit punch and I began to feel the ill effects of heat exhaustion setting in . Outrageous fortune beset me yet again when I realized the bus I boarded was air conditioning free. Once I got home, the effects of my romp, plus the thoughts in my head erupted. And I vomited. In the trash can by my bed. In the commode. In a bucket of Pinesol by my commode. In the bathtub trying to calm down.
“Either I got heat exhaustion or that tooth that had that mild abcess is going septic,” I told my friend.
But back to vomiting. In the yard waiting for my friend to come get me. Desecrating a Walmat plastic bag in the car on the way to the hospital. And once in a nifty vomit bag as the wheel chair I was in made too many jerking movements -but I apologized to the waiting room as any genteel southerner would. I vocalized that I wanted my mom, never mind that this section of the waiting room was where I finally was away enough from my mom to shed a tear at her impending demise back in 2011. Now, four years later, Lisa the Stoic, is replaced by OCD Lisa chanting a mantra of “I’m so scared.”
Then the nurse, while taking my medical specifics gave me a pill, Zofran. Zofran, named for the ancient Greek god of Emesis and Refusing to Suffer in Silence. I was fine in 15 minutes. Not sepsis. Not this time, Mom. I felt like an idiot as my panic subsided. I’ve vomited many times alone without alerting the media, but the heat exhaustion, sepsis in the tooth scenario weighed deeply in my mind along with other anxieties. I asked the triage nurse if it would be OK for me to go since I felt so much better. “Absolutely!” She said with a trifle more enthusiasm than necessary. But here I am a month later alive and well, and I see they’ve moved the entrance to the emergency department, probably they’re hiding from me.
just a little note of apology to TLC Book Tours who gave me a chance to review this book, and to the author of the book, who rushed me a signed, gorgeous copy…I’m really sorry. First I fled my old apartment under extreme duress. Trying to salvage the friendship of my roommate, I pawned my netbook (only just got it back) and gave him the money. I found all the stuff to my desktop…except my surge protector (It either got lost in the shuffle, or, it was just one of a number things my roomies decided to keep while I was away a few months ago). Anyway, my new neighbors blew a fuse and my computer died. I began reading The Unfinished Garden the day it arrived and finished it in a couple of days it was so good. I’m very sorry and thank you very much.
The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White is a unique, beautiful book. This is a romance novel for everyone: those of us that are dyed-in-the-wool romantics and those who projectile vomit whenever we read Danielle Steele (I swing more toward the latter). Many romance novels have flawed characters, but these often seem contrived and cut from the same cloth the other biddies in the romance quilting bee spun their characters from. Not so with The Unfinished Garden. Claypole White’s first novel lingers with the reader long after the story ends.
The Unfinished Garden recommends itself to me in reminding me of one of my all-time favorite books, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden is a classic children’s book, in which the flawed characters heal themselves through the redemptive qualities of gardening. The Unfinished Garden is The Secret Garden for adults, particularly those with OCD or are mourning. Since I am a card carrying member of Club OCD and recently joined the My Mom is Dead T-Shirt Committee, this book recommends itself to me in its entirety. Through gardening, the two main characters begin the process of healing from their demons, one with OCD, the other with the death of her husband.
James Nealy is not the typical love interest in a novel. James is handsome, but has enough ‘baggage’ to sink the Titanic, iceberg not needed. He has obsessive-compulsive disorder compounded with generalized anxiety disorder. James easily could become the bungling, hilarious OCD guy of popular culture, but the author’s sensitivity to James and his affliction paints an authentic portrait of someone struggling with anxiety and the past.
Tilly Silverberg is the heroine of The Unfinished Garden, a widowed mother running her own plant nursery. The death of Tilly’s husband three years ago is still in the forefront of her mind, along with regret and guilt. David, her husband, got into a terrible auto accident and was left in a vegetative state. Tilly can’t help but wonder, though, had she refused her husband’s wish to not be kept alive by machines, would he have recovered? She feels by letting the doctors know about her husband’s living will, she in effect killed him. Thanks to modern technology, this is a very believable scenario. I wonder at times whether I should have done more, tried everything to prolong life though it would have gone against what I knew my mother wanted.
When James and Tilly meet, it is due to James wanting someone to build him a garden. While James feels an intense need for it to be Tilly who landscapes his garden, Tilly doesn’t want to branch out her nursery for James or anyone else. James persists though due to his attraction to Tilly and the reason he, a rich software designer, wants a garden: to conquer his contamination obsessions, dirt being a major trigger. As in all good love stories (the ones that are neither too sentimental or about dudes shooting photos of bridges while committing adultery) love conquers all. In spite of having a debilitating mental illness, and even because of the tenacity inspired by his OCD, James emerges triumphant.
I can’t recommend this book enough. If you have OCD, no matter what your particular obsessions and quirks, you will identify with James and the motivations of his actions in life. James has that sensitivity to the world that can be a blessing and a curse, where he is attracted to other troubled souls. He is afraid of everyday life situations, but has amazing strength at things that fluster or even terrify ‘normal’ folks. I wish I knew James, and you will probably wish you did too by the end of the book. Shoot, if you just want to read a good book and are as normal as normal be, read The Unfinished Garden!
About a week ago, I went with my friend on our second solo dining experience. You know who I mean, the one who likes showing affection with his tongue as the Continentals do. As I have said before, this guy has the distinct honor of being my first date and my first French kiss. My life before my mother’s death was a bit uneventful in its solitude.
I’ve known this guy off and on since third grade and have off and on liked him since about the fourth grade. When he gave me the surprise kiss and even more surprising tongue, I thought, Hey for the first time someone I could like likes me back! Winning!
This last excursion began with Mexican food, and I have a big steak. We both have a touch of Habanero sauce, a green pepper sauce that is hot as hell. We have blue margaritas, another new experience that are tasty for alcohol. The drink goes to my head and before long I’m exclaiming, “Oh shit!” – at what, I don’t quite recollect, but I have enough of my wits to feel a hint of embarrassment. Neither am I so buzzed that the running commentary in my head doesn’t play. Why is he interested in me?, I keep asking myself. I’m so shy, my conversation isn’t funny or fascinating, and I am less than average in looks. Could he have liked me all this time and waited for a proper time to act on it?
We are home and I know he will try to kiss me again when we get to the door. I try to suppress my giddiness on the way. “Come here,” he says, just as he did before, like he’s going to give me a hug. This time I know his modis and am preparing myself. I’m going to kiss him back this time or die trying.
Now we’re going to count down all the first times in this one…
I manage to tuck my tongue under his in his mouth and leave it there for a couple of seconds, all necessary and proper. When I retreat to my tongue’s natural station, I say “Heh, well at least this time I got my tongue in too.”
I find myself relieved when his tongue returns to my mouth in a way which needs no reciprocation from me. It is a kind dispensation of heaven for a socially anxious woman to have a kiss with a guy whose tongue would be the envy of the Geico Gecko. And herein comes another first, he’s copping a feel of my breasts. Cupping them and pressing me against him, and then, he caresses my bottom – another first. I want to discern whether his pole is raised to attention, but short of grabbing him or applying continuous pressure with my pelvis, which I don’t have the balls to do in either case, I decide I must not look either. It’s as though he’s trying to lift me. “Um, I’m rather heavy and we’re practically making babies in the hall.”
His solution is to pull me under the stairway conveniently next to the fire extinguisher lest we get too hot. More kissing with his tongue. Oh look here, he’s nibbling on my ear. A first! And there he is kissing my neck, another first! I dare to look into his eyes once or twice and he indeed looks as though he actually wants to have me, devour me even.
Then he asks that question every gal dreams of hearing: “Do you have a ‘fuck buddy,’ Lisa?”
“Um no…I’m still a virgin.”
“I have a couple of them.”
“Who are they?” I ask, thinking GERMS!
“Nevermind about that,” he says. “Do you want to be my ‘fuck buddy?'”
I am not aroused because I’m too shy to be aroused being pressed against the wall. So that’s why he’s interested. Oh.
I actually think about it. I’m 34 years-old and my flower is wilted and gathering dust. I say that I might let him have dessert one day as long as he has protection to keep from having a Junior running around. I am giddy and want to hurry off lest Wilt Chamberlain here tries to gain entry when a neighbor might walk by.
I’m excited and happy that I am desired, the margarita still numbing my senses. I tell Soul Bro and we are giggly. It’s after I wake in the night that the tears come. I thought he had feelings for me. Nah, he just needed another fuck buddy to go with his harem. Waaaah!
The next day I talk to Soul Bro, crying even though we are having a bowl. I want to divest myself of my virtue, but by someone who doesn’t love me? I don’t want to die a virgin. I don’t want to die alone. I mail him with a “when and where,” but several hours later seeing that he hasn’t responded, I write, “Nevermind, I’m chicken.” I hope he will write back, but he doesn’t. Feeling my impending old age and ultimate death, plus the fact that I want Wilt in my life whatever way, I make another bid on Facebook, declaring “Fuck it. I’m tired of being a virgin.” That gets an answer and he agrees to Friday night.
Taking my best girlfriend’s advice, as well as my therapist’s, and casting it to the wind, I am ready for my virtue to die. My girlfriend tried to convince me I’m not worthless and that I will meet someone someday. Noted, but life is such a damn transient thing, and unless I start hanging out with mutes, I will be at a disadvantage in the dating world. My therapist also had similar objections, plus the whole ‘fuck buddy’ thing being crass. Yeah. But I am resolved.
Then Team OCD decides to ruin any chance of me ever getting any. Ugh.
My Soul Brother has made me up nicely – eyeliner, sparkly eyeshadow, and everything…when I get the call. Wilt’s tire blew out on the way to buy condoms and he will have to cancel. “I’ll get it fixed first thing in the morning,” he says.
I decide to ask him then the questions I felt must be asked before I let anyone into where no man’s ever gone before.
Perhaps if I had left it at “Do you have any STD’s?” this story would have a happy ending. But no. I ask him if he has a medical encyclopedia’s worth of diseases, even if he has sores near his genitals.
Oops. Apparently, that’s not a turn on. But it get’s worse.
“I know we’re not in a relationship or anything, but you won’t just drop me one day, right, or try to break my heart?”
AND, help us all…
“Maybe my mom is telling us we shouldn’t be doing this.”
Needless to say, he cancels the next day and says he’ll call in a couple of weeks. Let’s hope he calls before the world ends on December 21st.
What do you get when you cross a Moveon.org organizer at 8:30 am on the phone with a half-asleep broad with social anxiety disorder? A Moron left to cringe at her conversational gaffe and a liberal activist wondering if she called Michelle Bachmann.
Ms. Moveon.org: I wish to speak with Lisa B.
Me: This is she.
Ms. Moveon.org: This is P with Moveon.org and I was wondering how the Clean Oil rally went? (or something to that effect)
Me: I’m sorry, what did you say?
Ms. Moveon.org. repeats as before but the slight edge in her voice is getting edgier. It’s 8:30 in the morning, I just woke up, and feeling attacked makes me very nervous, so I say…
Me: I’m sorry I don’t know anything about a Media Matters Oil rally. (Eeps, the least I can do is keep my progressive organizations straight. I knew right away what I said. Oh. Sweet. Liberal. Heavens).
Ms. Moveon ‘not Media Matters’ .org is not happy with me. I knew from her voice beforehand that she was going to give me hell for not being at a rally, but now she has to deal with an idiot too.
Ms. Moveon.org( in such a snotty voice you’d expect her to sneeze): I must have the wrong number.
Ms. Moveon.org: Yes, I must have the wrong number. Sorry.
Click. This adds to the pile I’m amassing of reasons I suck and I felt embarrassed. Oh well, screw her. Sign a petition or two (not even about the environment, alas) and suddenly they think they own you.
In the bathroom, I see a roach in death agonies. I hate roaches. I hate death agonies. I can’t bear the nastiness of squishing it in the piece of tissue, so I throw it in the toilet alive and have a case of the guilties as I watch it struggle to live when I flush. I’m sorry. I should have killed you first, roach. More fodder for the “I suck” pile.
Later in the day, phone call. We go to a friend who is sick. I explain what ‘psychosomatic’ means to her, a word which the emergency workers used, as they cart her away. I haven’t been to the ER since the Great Kidney Infection Debacle of ’10 and was grateful to be on the visiting end of things. You can just feel the germs hopping around. I have a little fear myself when I see something at the visitors desk that looks like blood and hope my arm didn’t touch there. All was well in the end. I was there for a friend and we are all huggy-lovey as we parted ways afterward. I can take one log off of the “I suck ” pile, thank God. I was needed for a moment and that makes all the difference.
OK, so Jezebel had a contest going for very short fiction, but alas, they closed early due to overwhelming responses. But I did write a miserable stream of conscience piece of crap that I knew had nil chance of winning, but was like “eh, what the hell!” Paint me vagina pink and call me Virginia Woolf, but it needs some sort of airing, so it gets it here among my devoted fans. Remember, it’s fiction. I don’t got no Gothic lover, though Lily is similarly neurotic.
E. Coli for the Soul
by Lisa B.
Lily thinks she’s in love. She also thinks she’s dying, but she will do nothing about either issue. Lily sees love as a germ similar to the flu. Love comes upon you suddenly and hard, then more often than not, leaves you weakened instead of dead. Death, on the other hand, is fatal, and she has no desire to know that she’s dying.
Is the pain in her abdomen strained muscles, or millions of cancer cells building and spreading throughout her body? Will she stop thinking about The Man so often? Wonder what he’d think about this thing, or that person? He is dark, brooding, but strangely kind. Lily loves the darkness, the Gothic quality of his personality. The sadness she loves too, her attraction to people who are more unhappy than she is acts like a magnet.
I will help you. I’ll love you. Please love me too. She won’t say it. She’s become a mute. Love is a contaminant to friendship, e. coli for the soul. He would reject her, not wish to speak to her anymore, and most importantly, he loves someone else better suited for him…
But death, now that’s a weighty subject for a weighty woman. As long as she avoids the doctor, she won’t have to know she’s dying if it so happens she is dying. She may not be dying at all, but she won’t take a chance for someone to say she is.
OK, for fear that people think I abandoned the task at hand, I submit another exciting episode of Kidney Wars. It takes me longer to write something than to live it! I decided to switch writing styles from Episode I, inspired by the last paragraph of Episode I. The story remains true as I recall it except for dramatic music and the like. As fond as I am of purple, I think I may go goth and do it all in black for ease of reading except for the intro. Thoughts?
Welcome to my guest appearance on ER. It is a sunny, hot day, the sort of day you expect nothing bad could happen…
Cue dramatic music…
But even on the best of days, the absolute worst can and does happen. The Patient is ambulatory when she arrives in her ghetto/trailer park style van. The van makes a noise, the loud death throes of a wild animal. No doubt even patients in a coma hear and is as effective as the blare of a siren. As the van stops, the brave patient says to the subject with her (The Patient’s mother, a smoker), “Isn’t it stupid they won’t even let someone smoke in their own car?” They both agree, yes, very stupid, Cigarette Nazis and all that…
Which brings us to a commercial break: Insert public service announcement about not smoking, one with the woman without a voice box, because those are particularly freaky. Then an antidepressant commercial that warns as a woman smiles in complete bliss, “Tell your doctor what medicines you’re on and contact your doctor if swelling and nausea appear as this may be a sign of a serious medical condition and can be fatal. Tell your doctor if you contemplate, attempt, or commit suicide.”
And now back to our show! The ambulatory patient and her mother walk in the sliding glass doors, leaving the beautiful sunshine outside, maybe forever. To the reception desk STAT!
The woman at the reception desk is a friendly woman around 60 and she asks The Patient what makes her think she has a kidney infection. “Blood in urine, fever, ache in stomach and back, and I’m weak,” says The Patient.
“Have you ever been a patient here before?”
In the background, more dramatic music, this time starting low and building to a crescendo as the receptionist mournfully says, “Sorry, then you have to fill out this form.”
The Patient says to her mother, “I thought it would be much longer, but it’s only half a page. Will you look it over to see if I did it right.” It seems the patient doesn’t trust her own judgement. Our narrator must stop and shake her head at the 32-year-old patient, but since that isn’t in the script, we must proceed.
Now the patient must find a seat to await her time in the back where all the real dramatic stuff happens on this show. They sit down, but directly behind them hidden by a grey curtain is a heavy drilling sound that puts a patient in mind of having dental work done. One can hear the Spanish-speaking workers yelling over the racket (additions to sets can’t wait until filming is over, plus we at the network wish to show ethnic diversity in our shows anyway, so it all works out in the end). The talking didn’t offend the patient, but the drilling appears to be a bit too taxing for the ailing Patient, so she decides to move.
“We can sit over there,” says The Mother, pointing to a space recently vacated by a mother and her little boy. The Patient looks and immediately rejects the idea, seeing a Diet Coke can and clear plastic cup on the side table. Everyone knows children in emergency rooms are walking Petrie dishes, and The Patient with great wisdom decides not to get near these left over articles from the child, lest his germs jump ship and hop onto the Patient. Finally, The Patient and her mother decide on a seat next to the window.
The Patient and The Subject now may make a survey of the humanity around them. Surprisingly few are here; perhaps it’s too early to cut one’s finger off or drill a hole into one’s hand at work. Perhaps later, but as it stood now, only one young man has somehow injured himself. With surprising adeptness, he jumps about with only one foot, the other injured. A woman in her fifties is rolled into the waiting room by a nurse. She has a rolling suitcase, which she makes certain the nurse puts exactly where she wants it. Eye view, right next to her, but out-of-the-way. A man in his seventies is wheeled in, speaking with a hint of curtness in his replies to his wife. They take the old man back and the wife waits behind. She strikes up a conversation with the woman in the wheelchair and the patient listens to them speak. The older woman introduces herself and the younger woman does in kind. She notices the wheelchair bound woman is cold even though it’s comfortable to The patient. The older woman puts the sweater around the younger and tells her to keep it, she has plenty in the car and at home.Then they proceed to tell each other why they are here.
“I’m trying to get into Hospice,” says the younger woman, as though knowing you have six months to live is only inconvenient and annoying. “My cancer is all over now.”
The patient listens and steals glimpses at the woman. She neither looks healthy or all that unhealthy, she just is there with her long, stringy gray hair and thin frame. Before she admits she has no family around it’s obvious.
Now the older woman tells why she’s here. “They don’t know what’s wrong with my husband. They keep running tests.”
And then the older woman is giving her phone number to the younger.
Curiouser and curiouser. The Patient wishes she was as open as the older woman, as good. Every thought worthy of being told to the audience is done by a voice-over of The Patient in a slightly echoing tone popular in these dramas. The patient has the inclination for being all good and kind and junk, but she finds her voice unequal to the task of constant open magnanimity. If she survives this ordeal, hopefully she will be of better use to others one day.
It seems there are a few maladies unable to be conquered by waiting for them to go away, that there are some things that will make the most reluctant patient go to the doctor. My abject horror of disease-finding doctors kept me away from them in cases most people would go to a physician. Like that time I thought I had Swimmer’s Ear, or the time I had that giant pus-filled boil and could barely lift my arm (sorry to be graphic). The only time in around five years or so that I had to get a medicine, not referring to my antidepressants, was the time I got oral thrush and ended up at my dentist’s. Genius here thought it would be fabulous for my gums if I kept Listerine in my mouth slightly over the minute directed on the bottle….. like 19 minutes over the time on the bottle. Cleanliness may very well be next to godliness, but this doesn’t pertain to the bacteria of the mouth. Of course I thought I had oral cancer, then, after my mother explained what thrush was, that I was sure I had a compromised immune system and had ‘caught’ AIDS in a nontraditional way. …Ever the optimist if not the deep thinker. But anyway…
One morning I woke up and went to the bathroom to receive an unpleasant surprise of almost red urine, to which I immediately told my mother. She at first wanted to say it was still my Aunt Flo, but I told her that good lady of red blessings packed up and left at least two days ago. This had happened to me a couple of times months ago, but it went away and my bladder kept its peace until now. This time would not be the same. From almost red urine, I began to void red clumps and spots (again, sorry to be graphic). I just chalked it all up to bladder cancer or kidney failure.
For the first day or two my mother remained optimistic that I just had a long period, but my stomach and back now began to hurt and I seemed to pee less. To strain gave me a bit of a burning sensation. Then, joy of joys, I had my once every 3 months pill pusher’s psychiatrist’s appointment to go to while I barely could stand up for the pain and dizziness. It was today I planned to ask her to switch me to a medicine I only tried for a while because I am desperate to end the need to be perfect and the overwhelming anger at not being able to live to my standards. If you feel like you have to restart all the time you might be pretty pissed off and on edge too. Though I was half dead, I still asked. Recall, gentle reader, I’ve mentioned this sort of thing before, my medicine not working well (I sort of cringe when I read one sentence in it, embarrassing! But you can have a look if you didn’t have the fortune of following my fascinating, deep chronicles of my life in April:
My psychiatrist heard me out and this time she decided it would be better that she increase my dose rather than change my medicine. I take 300 mg of Luvox, which is the maximum dose recommended, so she upped it to 350 and would have me back in a month to see whether I was still alive.
“We’ll have to watch out for Serotonin Syndrome,” she pronounced as she scratched my new prescription on the pad.
“But I’d have symptoms before I fall dead of it, right?”
“Usually.” Ain’t life grand?
Before giving the prescription, she asked me if I was having any health problems.
“No!” You can go to hell for lying, you know, Nelly?
I decided I wouldn’t start the brave new dosage until I was over whatever settled on my kidneys. Let one thing kill me before another thing decided to give it a go.
I got progressively worse. I didn’t make it to the toilet twice, thinking I only had to slightly go when my bladder played a dirty trick on me. Freaking out, I told my mother, “That can’t be a kidney infection can it? That isn’t a symptom is it?” I was convinced I had kidney failure/diabetes/cancer/AIDS.
“Yes it can. You have a kidney infection and you need to go to the doctor.”
“No!” Look, I knew I had kidney failure/diabetes/cancer/AIDS and I had no desire to hear a doctor tell me I was as good as dead.
“If you don’t get better really soon, you’re going to the doctor .”
But I wasn’t about to go without a fight with my immune system if not my mother.
I began a war of feverish, almost sleepless nights where I felt like I was freezing. My temperature at its highest was 103 and if I coughed my brain felt like it was exploding. So I told my mother if I wasn’t better by the time I finished an entire jug of cranberry juice I would go to the doctor. So I drank my juice, took Tylenol for my fever, and Azo for urinary pain. I had no appetite.
Curiously enough, as I was dying, I began to worry about a blogger thinking she might have caused my malady and I knew it wasn’t, but I was much afraid she thought so. So I says to my Mom, “If I die, please let her know it wasn’t her, that I knew the frozen tampon thing was a joke to begin with anyway.” Well sometime or another I felt better enough to let her know myself. Strange what the mind thinks about when sporting a fever. I said something along the lines that my vagina was just fine and all, but if it had been my vagina ending me, perhaps my death would have warranted a Darwin Award and I could say I had not died in vain.
I guess it’s OK to explain, because if any of you read the comments on a blog, you might have seen what I did just because I was curious a little. I knew the post was a great joke, but I hadn’t dared myself to do something ignorant since my teens when I ate an ornamental pepper and ate a whole packet of mustard down with nothing else. The good old days, you know? (Such an attention whore to be so shy). So I decided to try freezing my tampon just because I could. I left this comment on her blog:
So I left it in the freezer about 4 hours, hidden behind a half-used box of spaghetti. It was one of those new “U” tampons, a blue one, which is really apropos for freezing. Somehow they think if tampons come in bright colors that you’ll buy them…well it worked for me (though I believe I prefer others….neither here nor there)
Anywho 4 hours later I remove the package from the freezer, and I’d be a liar if I wasnt thinking about those tasty ice cream on a stick things as I hurriedly stuck it iin my pocket.
The package was cold but yay! no freezer burn! I open the package and yes the applicator was cold, So I ….
The applicator was cold, not like Ice Man taking advantage cold. More like jumping in a pool in May cold, but God bless America, the actual tampon was only slightly cool.
It was a chilling experience and makes me wonder if there actually are people who do this junk.
But I climbed Mt. Everest and I conquered.
When I started vomiting, I knew Game Over on Save Myself with Cranberry Juice. If indeed I had a kidney infection instead of or along with kidney failure/diabetes/cancer/AIDS, I was getting in the stage before it gets in your blood and damages your kidneys, which = FUCKED. Little did I know how difficult it actually would be to see a doctor.
My mother called the local Medac urgent care, which takes Medicaid if you’re first approved. Sort of takes the point away from ‘urgent’ doesn’t it?
My mother called Social Services and I could be approved for a certain doctor’s office, so we called there, and they could pencil me in on November 15. Great. I might literally be dead by then! They suggested I go to the emergency room if I couldn’t wait that long. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to be cross since they had never seen me before, but cross I was and am. Here I am trying to die here and all, dang.
I hope y’all won’t be cross, but gonna stop here and continue later. I can’t believe I’ve written this much and only now get to my guest appearance on ER. Anyway, in Part 2 expect our heroine to go to the damn emergency room, return to her version of ‘normal,’ and get freaked out at the therapist. Important junk like that!
Great, Lisa. You thought everyone needed a background history of your fear of doctors. Thought it would be a paragraph or two didn’t you? Then you could tell the ever so fascinating, graphic story of your kidney infection. But no, before you were done there were over 1000 words of something that could be daintily told in one sentence: I’m scared doctors will tell me I’m about to kick the can, so I don’t go to doctors. Amen.
So dearest readers, please enjoy if possible, and soon enough I will talk about blood in urine and other pleasantries.
When I was a little girl, my mother took me to the doctor for every sniffle and I had a cold at least once a month. This didn’t bother me much because I hadn’t yet come up with the idea of croaking from several different diseases. This isn’t to say I didn’t think I was weaker than other children, because I did, and actually was in a way. I think the hyper-reflexia wore me out easier since my muscles never completely relaxed, and maybe in those days I hung on to a cold longer than other children (but then, I also was eager to stay out of school as long as possible). Also, it isn’t to say I thought I’d live to see adulthood. In fact, by the time I was 8, I convinced myself I would die by my 10th birthday. It was 1987 and the war on drugs was in full swing. I became obsessed with it, convinced by all those public service ads that I would soon die. It was almost like a catching disease, and I began to imagine that years ago someone gave me drugs, which I couldn’t remember, and by delayed reaction I would die years later. Ten seemed like an evil age because it was double digits and by all those drug ads, I thought that once you got that old an almost irresistible force came and you got strung out on coke.
By the time I was 12, however, I had for the most part given up my “catch-a- drug- addiction-obsession” and focused it more on “the-police-and everyone-will-think-I’m-on-drugs-and-arrest-me-obsession.” (Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I either A) was an insane kid not in touch with reality, or B) I was just really, really dumb to believe such things as old as I was). It was about this time I stopped going to doctors. By my teens, I seldom had colds and Mom figured out that if I did have one, it wasn’t necessary to put me on antibiotics for a viral infection. As I grew older a blanket of uncertainty regarding my health seemed to be thrown over me. I saw signs in everything of impending doom, of thinking the normal discharge from my you-know-and-if-you-don’t-i-ain’t-telling-you-what was a sign of cancer or something nice and fatal.
Fast forward some more and at age 19 I went for my first prodding. I only went because my shrink at that time refused to believe me that Paxil, the antidepressant I was on, was stopping my monthly curse, which it was (apparently I’m that 1 in 10,000 whose period stops on certain SSRI antidepressants. Who can beat those odds?). We’ll just say it wasn’t smooth sailing and I screamed. Not gasped. Screamed. The good doctor told me she’d done the procedure on a 4 year-old once, which was fine, but you hadn’t done it on me. Give my fat, yet surprisingly tight ass a break considering I had not even used a tampon in those days. When I got a notice for another exam a year later, my mother was like, “Eh, you’re fine.”
Down the road a little more and I’m around 21. I got off my medicine for about a year then and I began to bleed again like a normal person and that delightful fat which helped in vouchsafing my purity started melting away. It was crazy. I went from 250 lb. to 180 in a year, and probably would have lost much more if The Cold didn’t happen. The year I stopped taking my medicine was manageable, though about every 15 minutes or so I’d feel small surges of anxiety that came and went, plus at various times a terrible guilt plagued me so that I had to figure what I had done to cause it. That was the year I kept thinking I contracted HIV everyday by unique, creative ways. All that I could sort of manage, but then The Cold sent me haywire.
Anyway. one afternoon at school I felt so sick I might faint and was ever so grateful when my mother picked me up. At the time I had no idea that faintness would set off something and I got better. That part of my brain that hides and waits to pounce on something suddenly exploded to the worst sort of panic I ever felt, and it was a panic that would not subside. My mind felt tightly wound, my skin felt as though it was crawling, and all I could do was remain terrified. Out of my mother’s presence, I felt sure I’d fall down dead or that I had diabetes and ready to slip into a coma. What I ate tasted different, like I imagine death tastes, and I had no appetite. Worst anxiety I ever had I think and I almost dropped out of college before I got back on medicine. Still no doctors except my psychiatrist though I was certain I was in my death throes. It subsided eventually when I returned to my fat, medicated self, but dropping dead still likes to hang out in the back of my head on the rare occasions I go far from home alone. “Enjoy that stroke, Fatso,” etc.
Fast forward once more, age 27, my second and last prodding. I just got Medicaid and the doctor’s office my social worker suggested thought it proper I be prodded and I acquiesced. May I say something here on doctor’s clinics who depend almost solely on Medicaid for their bread? In a word, they SUCK. My first inclination this was a sub-par place was the fact they wanted me to update my records twice, once without ever seeing me. The second was the nurse couldn’t find my vein to save her life. “Do your veins roll?” she asked. To which my reply was, “What?” I was a docile cow as the young woman stuck me at least 3 times without finding a mark, but my mother, a retired nurse, got cross. She asked for another nurse who got my blood the first try. Mama said later that people my age don’t have rolling veins and that after the second try on someone she always got another nurse to try. It didn’t particularly hurt, but I was feeling a bit annoyed.
The nurse practitioner was nice and I gladly report I didn’t scream, though I had to ask her for a breast exam. Um third inclination. Fourth inclination was when I returned to be told I was fine except my good cholesterol was too low, I had to wait 2 hours in the waiting room and I thought for certain that meant I had bad results. Fifth inclination was that if I didn’t make another appointment by phone, I could lose my Medicaid, which I knew was a lie. I never returned again, but no big loss because shortly after the clinic shut down for fraud. Big surprise there.
I planned to spend the day at the pool. Instead I took a nap. That’s what I do when thrown off-kilter. Sometimes I won’t be able to re-adjust without a total restart, which is a nap and a perfection prayer. Then clean slate. Try again not to fuck everything up.
I did everything so right this morning, not cursing and getting upset when I at first couldn’t find a book I sold on Amazon. It was after I gave the cats their flea control that trouble brewed.
“Remember to wash your hands good afterward,” Mom advised, “because it’s poison.”
OK, no problem, right? So I rub my left hand around the bar of soap and wash my hands by rubbing them together a few seconds under the cool water. I’m not too concerned when it comes to me, but I practically prep for surgery if I’m preparing something for someone lest I contaminate her or him. This is when Mommie Dearest comes in and cries, “NO WIRE HANGERS EVER!!!”
Well, actually she said, “That’s not washing! You just run your hands under water and call it washing.”
That did it. From neutral to enraged in .5 seconds. I soap again and wash. Angry. Angry. ANGRY.
Afterward, gritting my already evenly ground teeth, I asked her if she saw me use the soap. I don’t always just rinse my hands under water. In fact, I often ritualize washing after the bathroom, preferably with liquid soap. I count to 30 or recite the Happy Birthday song a couple of times in my head, thank you very much.
I was so angry! And when she apologized it was in that annoyed martyr voice she does when she is completely frustrated with me. Her voice dips down low and increases with each sorry. “I’m sorry….I’m sorryyy….I’m SORRY!” Needless to say it’s hard to talk to her about why I’m angry, and thinking about it now renews my anger a bit.
I gave into my feelings, altering from states of intense anger to utter hopelessness. My thoughts were in this vein: I fucking can’t do anything right. I always, always end with fucking things up. I might as well just drop dead I’m so fucking useless. I can’t even wash my hands the right way.
But I felt much better after that nap, my prayer, my assurance to myself that this time I won’t mess up some way. I ended up at the pool after my “re-perfecting” was done. I walked past a boy, perhaps around 9 years-old, and he asked me to use my goggles. Pollyanna said, “Sure, as long as you give them back when you’re done.” He must never have got done with them, my $6.00 impermeable goggles. Funny, I was only somewhat annoyed by this. At least they fixed the pool filter, so my eyes will be tolerant again of the chlorine level in the water. I want my freaking goggles back though, little bastard, because I can see things better with them on, and because you’re old enough to know better than to steal. Club Ghetto/Trailer Park strikes again!
My mom was kinda mad, though, that someone stole from me….
(Photos snatched from Photobucket and Flickr w/o permission.)
This is one of those posts unburdening myself because I’m anxious, so probably won’t be the best post ever, but oh well. Here is a list of things I fear:
1. My worst fear is harming someone. I’m not one of those obsessive-compulsives who thinks she’ll kill someone somehow -much. Though butcher knives and guns in the house would scare me if we had them, because I’d imagine going crazy and doing everything I would never ever want to do. I am aware that is silly, I’m not suddenly going to do anything totally against everything I believe, but you see all these people who go nuts on TV and it’s enough to send me into a terror. I usually know I’m not going to go crazy, that it is OCD trying to upset me. More real in my mind is the fear of causing harm by accident. What if I ran over someone someday? What if I could save someone and somehow I don’t ? It’ll be my fault.
The obsession I worry the most about though is my fear of causing offense or hurting someone’s feelings. Most of the time it’s all upstairs, but it scares the hell out of me. You’d think with everything going on in the world I could find something better to panic over, but that scares me. Probably one of the roots of my social anxiety issue is this fear. Online, offline, in the air and under the sea I’ve done someone wrong I fear. I’m never good enough. I even fear that bad phrases will rush out of my mouth or I’ll write something awful and it will be…..well….awful, you know? Though I don’t have Tourette’s, unless you count that stupid brain puke flowing in a stream throughout my brain. I’m scared I’ve upset someone, and I wouldn’t deliberately, and now I don’t what to do……..I think I’m being irrational, but can’t help it.
My therapist says it’s because I’m a kind person that I have all this stuff go through my head. Why I worry about others, let others take advantage of me…etc. It makes me really wish I had that “F.U., buddy” mentality so charming among people. I am way too sensitive. I cry like a wuss if someone is nasty to me lots of the time. Can’t watch certain things on TV because it upsets me too much. I didn’t cry the other day, but since they did one of those re-enactments of the events of this local murder victim on a cable show my friend and I watched at her house, I had the unpleasant feeling of feeling what he was feeling a bit. Not good. Not good at all. If they had just said his body had been found all beat up, showed some blood, etc. I wouldn’t have been so upset, but they showed what they did to him before he died, the anticipation of death he must have felt. It was too real. Then on the local news they interviewed his mom who watched the program. Ugh. I was afraid she was watching it, and the fact that I’ve been to the places in the story just weirded me out.
I’ve been too sickeningly sensitive since I was in my middle teens and it’s a curse. Trust me.
2. My mother’s death. I am afraid my mom will die some awful way. I’m afraid she’ll die in a car wreck, or be murdered, or die of a disease. And if i survive her death, that I won’t be able to bury or cremate her. It happened to us when my grandmother died and without help we wouldn’t have been able to bury her. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford a roof over my head, though my best friend would let me live with her permanently…..but I’m afraid we wouldn’t get along living together because we are pretty different in a lot of ways and I’d want to live alone I think. If my mother died the only person who will ever love me unconditionally will be dead. Though in a way my best friend and I have never had a difference so bad we’d walk away from one another forever.
3. I’m never going to be loved.
4. I’m going to die alone and without setting the slightest mark that I was ever here in the first place.
5. T he flaws on my face. I scour my face for hair everyday and spend a significant time feeling for it, thank you Paxil that stopped my period for a couple years (a rare side effect that happens in like 1 in 10,000 people) . You can’t see them much, but I feel and pull to the point I’m sore and bleeding. Heck , for a little while I was shaving myself three times a day until Mom got onto me. If I imagine a man kissing me, the first thought will be of my face, even before thinking of my weight. One of these days I’m going to the laser people, so I can worry about other flaws.
6. That hell is real and I will be expected there.
7. That I will be accused of something and won’t be able to prove I didn’t do it.
8. That I have a hidden disease that will be fatal, but am too afraid my doctor will tell me I have a disease…..so I just avoid going to the doctor and will not go unless I’m dying. My stomach hurts and I secretly wonder if it’s from radiation off my netbook.
9. I’m sometimes afraid if I’m alone in public I’ll panic, faint, and/or die. Or say the wrong thing.
10. I’m afraid I’m going to be attacked because I’m not vigilant 100 % of the time….that isn’t entirely irrational here at Shitzville Apartments trust me.
11. I’m afraid something upset me when I was 4, but I don’t quite remember. It’s probably nothing. I’ll explain sometime, but it isn’t really anything all that bad. But it probably did mess with my mind a little if it’s even true.
Anyway, I feel better. Though I’m still a bit worried. I will try to write a better post when I am more myself.
I am going to make my way in this blog on a metaphorical bridge of thoughts and perceptions from day to day to try to connect the known with the yet unknown. My bridge is like a single plank which will require the supplement of others.