Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Memories from the ER

I must be cursed on holidays in addition to my birthday (or maybe it’s just because my birthday is on a holiday that it sucks). Instead of looking forward to togetherness and family gatherings on the holidays I always look forward to the marathons that will be on A&E and sitting around in pajamas all day. Perhaps since I have this attitude the cosmos align on the holidays to punish me for being antisocial. I think it is genetic. If my family wanted to be social with each other then perhaps they would actually have a family gathering on the holidays. We always send each other a generic Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, or Happy Birthday text message on the day it is scheduled for in our planners so it isn’t completely unacknowledged. Nothing makes you feel more warm and fuzzy inside than a holiday text message! People always give me a sympathy invite to their holiday family gatherings but it is just too weird when it isn’t your family and you know that the only reason you got an invitation is out of pity, not because of your award winning personality. I gave up on sympathy turkey years ago. So this Thanksgiving I planned to embark on my reliable holiday tradition, sitting back in the recliner and watching whatever marathon was on. I especially needed to stay in since I had been fighting off a cold and something was wrong with my ear. It had been hurting for about two weeks; however since I would rather chew broken glass than go to the hospital I stupidly tried to treat my symptoms myself. A midwife I work with had looked in it and told me she thought it was a piece of wax that was down in my canal irritating it. Of course being that the ear is not the particular hole of the body that a midwife is an expert on this was not the best person to ask. Since I didn’t have a fever I assumed that she was right and I treated my ear as if it was the wax causing the discomfort. This consisted of home remedies of irrigation solutions of peroxide, warm water, heating pads, and just general stupidity on my part. I even bought an ear wax removal kit at the pharmacy, which I didn’t even know that they had before this. Yesterday my ear seemed to be hurting worse and in a vain and stupid attempt at fixing it on my own once again I ended up putting myself in agonizing pain and realizing that it was time to go to the ER , fearing that I had damaged my ear drum. Thanksgiving at the ER….. not the best place to be on a holiday and hopefully it won’t become a tradition. After going through the entire list of what I had put in my ear to the triage nurse she looked at me and asked why I hadn’t went to a doctor sooner and said that I should have known better. I told her I saw the error in my reluctance to seek treatment but thanks for pointing out what a twit I was anyway. I into the waiting room after being triaged to wait my turn. Just my luck the only seat available was between two men, one who I will refer to as the Witless Wonder and the other as the Geriatric Messiah. The Geriatric Messiah looked to be at least ninety, reeked of scotch, and was very loudly making proclamations on anything from gas prices to the end of the world. He kept tapping me on the shoulder to turn and listen to his pointless proclamations. The Witless Wonder was about forty, had a mullet, and a thick country accent complete with overalls and a John Deer cap. He wouldn’t stop talking to me even though I was obviously in a great deal of pain and he paid no attention to the fact that the ear he was talking to was covered by my hand and the fact that I wasn’t even looking at him.
Witless Wonder: You sick?
Me: No I come to the ER on the holidays to have some company and maybe get some free samples.
Witless Wonder: Really?
Me: No.
Witless Wonder: I got a splinter here in my thumb that I got from chopping wood. I tried to get it out but it’s a big one. You want to see?
Me: No.
Then the Witless Wonder, who is completely oblivious to my extreme lack of interest, held his thumb in front of my face to show me the splinter.
Witless Wonder: It hurts like a son of a bitch.
Me: I’m sure it does. (Then a tap on my left shoulder)
Geriatric Messiah: Lady, people can’t even afford food. We are at war. We are all going to die!
Me: Well isn’t that a lovely thought.
Witless Wonder: Don’t I know you from somewhere?
Me: No you don’t.
Witless Wonder: You really look familiar to me. Maybe I know your husband.
Realizing that this might be Witless Wonder’s attempt at finding out if I was available for him to seduce me I rolled my eyes and just glared at him.
Me: You might know him; he’s out there in a big truck with a big Remington on a gun rack. Why don’t you go out there and see?
At that moment I got up and started pacing at the opposite end of the waiting room. After what seemed like an eternity I was finally called back by the nurse who berated me once again about the fact that I should have known not to treat my ear at home. The exam rooms were full so she put me in this little corner and the only privacy I had was a curtain around the gurney I was sitting on which allowed me to hear everything that was going on at the nurse’s station. The doctor came out of an exam room to ask the nurse where he needed to go next.
Nurse: Over there behind the curtain is the girl with the ear. The pain has been going on for awhile but she decided to treat it herself instead of going to see someone.
Dr: The one that may have ruptured her ear drum?
Nurse: That’s the one.
Dr: Why did she do that to her ear?
I then started laughing loudly, thinking about the irony me being at the ER on a holiday with a self inflicted injury, looking like an idiot. They both got very quiet, probably thinking that I was completely crazy.
After a quick record breaking forty five second exam he determined that I had in fact hurt my ear (as if there was any doubt) and that I had swelling behind my tympanic membrane, a result of a massive ear infection, not wax, which was further aggravated by all of my home remedies. I’ll get a five hundred dollar bill for a forty five second exam. I even had to get more than the usual medicine prescribed for an ear infection since my ear in such bad shape. Then I had to go to the pharmacy to stand in a line. Why is there a line in the pharmacy on Thanksgiving? Aren’t most normal people with their families? Thankfully I didn’t get an ignorant pharmacy clerk this time. Then I got to spend the rest of the evening in a drug induced coma. Wonder what fiasco I will find myself in on Christmas.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Turkey Jerky Casanova

My mother called me last night on my way home from work and asked me to stop by Sam’s Club on my way home and pick up a mega pack of jerky treats for her dogs. Mom has two poodles and a Chihuahua that is so close to death flies are already buzzing around him. I don’t particularly care for the poodles because all they do is give a high pitched bark at every sound they hear, even if it is just the wind blowing. The Chihuahua I absolutely loathe. Someone dropped off this little dog at my mother’s house because they must have heard that she is like Mother Teresa with stray animals. She takes them in and nurses them back to health no matter how old or sick they are. I am a big animal lover and I am just about as bad as she is about taking care of a stray animal, but this particular one I could have said no to. He wheezes every time he takes a breath, his penis no longer retracts and hangs out all of the time, one of his ears has a chunk missing, and his eyes are so fogged up by cataracts he can only see out of a tiny area in the corner of one eye. He is constantly running into the wall or your leg because he can’t see and his hearing is not good either. He is also very ill tempered (which if I had all of his afflictions I would probably be just as mad at the world) and any time he runs into your leg he bites it. My mom took him to the vet when he first came to the house and they couldn’t determine his age for sure. They told her from the looks of him that he was probably very old and only had a few more months to live. That was five years ago. For five years I have endured small bites on my leg every time I go to my mom’s house. Needless to say I loathe the dog. So I was already ticked about having to get out in the thirty degree weather with high winds and snow to get jerky for two dogs that annoy me and one that is my arch enemy. After finally finding my way to pet products in the massive mega warehouse that is Sam’s Club I was ready to just grab the bag and go. I had just grabbed the bag and was starting to leave when a very skinny man approached me. He had long gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, a mustache, wearing old jeans and a flannel shirt. He said that if I really wanted my dogs to be happy I should give them all natural turkey jerky. I told him that they were not my dogs and what I had was fine. He then offered me a piece to try, saying that it was all natural and humans could eat it too. I began to think maybe he was one of the sample people that they always have in there trying to offer you a piece of food assuming you’ll try it, like it, and then buy it. I told him I didn’t need to try a sample and thanked him anyway. He then said that he wasn’t offering samples, he was just going to give me a taste cause I was so cute and then thrust his chest out and licked his lips. It was then painfully obvious he was coming on to me. Is this what I’ve been reduced to? Attempted seductions by hippies offering petrified meat as an aphrodisiac at a wholesale warehouse? I just rolled my eyes and walked past him. He then said “Hey Red, where you running off to?” To this I replied “fuck off”. The first time anyone has brazenly hit on me in months and it has to be Cheech and Chong’s distant cousin offering me turkey jerky. In the past I’ve been offered by men to have drinks bought for me, or dinner, but never turkey jerky. Exactly what kind of pheromones am I giving off to attract this type of man? Forget tall, dark and handsome, it’s now scrawny, gray and annoying. I checked out with my lone bag of dog treats and walked back out into the artic tundra to deliver the freeze dried petrified meat to mom’s freeze dried petrified Chihuahua and his annoying friends. This is my life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Republican Amongst Us

My son is five, extremely intelligent and more political than I ever thought about being at his age. He is just like me, capable of having deep philosophical conversations along with having a ditzy blonde moment at least twice a day. (He is a brunette, so I guess in this case I will just call it Sarah Palin syndrome) My son had an election at school a week prior to the recent election. He was so proud of himself that he had voted. I told him I was proud of him for voting. Last night he brought up the election he had at school. He asked me if I wanted to know who he voted for. I said sure if he wanted to tell me. The conversation went as follows:
Damien: I voted for John McCain.
Me: Wow son. So you’re a Republican?
Damien: How did you know? (Sarah Palin syndrome kicking in)
Me: Magical guess. So what made you vote for John McCain?
Damien: He just seems like a very sweet old man and he has that pretty woman with him all of the time. Obama doesn’t have a pretty girl with him.
Me: Which pretty girl? His wife or Sarah Palin?
Damien: The one with brown hair. Not his daughter. She’s pretty too though.
Me: Which daughter?
Damien: The one that is with him all the time. She has yellow hair.
Me: That’s his wife, not his daughter.
Damien: No she’s not. She’s too young to be his wife.
Me: That’s called a trophy wife son. You’ll probably have one some day too, especially since you are a Republican.
Damien: Who are you voting for?
Me: I have an Obama sticker on both of our vehicles. Who do you think?
Damien: You are a Democrat?
Me: Yes.
Damien: You are voting for Obama?
Me: Yes.
Damien: That just won’t work. He doesn’t have a pretty girl with him.
Me: You have a right to your choice; I have a right to mine. We don’t have to both vote for the same candidate.
Damien: Yes we do. Now you have to pick John McCain mom. You have to go with my choice. (My son is getting very agitated at this point)
Me: Wow Damien, you are really opinionated, argumentative, and think that you are always right and everyone should go with your opinions. You make a very good Republican.
Damien: Well, I can’t believe you’re a Democrat. (Arms crossed across chest at this
point, pouty defeated look across his face.)
Me: Sweetie, you do realize that the election is over, right? We don’t get to vote again. They don’t take turns. Obama won. He is the president now.
Damien: Oh. I’m gonna miss John McCain. Can we go visit him?
Me: Let’s change the subject. What did you learn today?
Damien: I learned about Hanukah. Happy Hanukah mom.
Me: Thank you dear. Happy Hanukah to you.
Damien: We should celebrate Hanukah.
Me: We aren’t Jewish.
Damien: What?!?
Me: We aren’t Jewish honey.
Damien: We should be. I want to have Hanukah. Why aren’t we Jewish?
Me: I don’t know, I guess the egg I came from was implanted in the wrong uterus.
Damien: I think we will have Hanukah.
Me: Okay son, you be a Jewish Republican, I’ll be an agnostic Democrat with Catholic tendencies.
Damien: Fine you can be a Democrat mom, just as long as you vote for John McCain.

At this point I feel like beating my head against the wall, wishing I didn’t live in a dry county.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hooked on Phonics doesn't work for everyone.

When I leave work I am usually exhausted. Yesterday was no exception. I had to stop by Walgreens to pick up a prescription that I had dropped off three days earlier, so I knew that by now it would be ready. When I got there two very long lines of people were at the pharmacy counter. After about fifteen minutes it was my turn at the counter. The woman that had been in front of me was now standing to my side waiting because the clerk told her that her prescription was not ready and when she insisted it must be ready since it too had been called in several days prior the clerk told her to simply stand by and she would talk to the pharmacist about it when he got a spare minute. I told the clerk that I was there to pick up my prescription and gave her my name. The first two initials of my last name are Li. The plastic bins that they keep the prescriptions in at Walgreens are labeled with the first two letters of the last name. She looked in the first bin that was marked LA-LH. She did not look in the second bin which was marked LI-LZ. She then told me my prescription was not ready either. I told her that it must be because it had been called in three days ago. She then said she would see if it was in pending. While she was doing that I started staring at the bins. Sure enough I could see my name clearly marked on one of the prescriptions in the LI-LZ bin. When she got back and told me that it wasn’t pending I said that I knew it was ready because I could see it and I pointed to it. She then got an attitude and said that I was wrong. By this time my patience was wearing thin. The conversation went as follows:
Me: My prescription is right there in that bin, the one marked LI-LZ.
Clerk: No it’s not. That bin starts with LL.
Me: No it doesn’t. That is an L and an I.
Clerk: No it isn’t. It doesn’t have a dot. It has two L’s.
Me: That is a CAPITAL I! That is why there is no dot. It is a capital I.
Clerk: Lady, I know it doesn’t have a dot. It’s an L, as I told you.
At this point I said nothing and just stared at her. I was about to blow a head gasket. Realizing at this point that explaining the alphabet to her was going to be like explaining physics to Forrest Gump I decided to stop trying. I then said in a very firm voice that I could see my prescription and if she couldn’t manage to find it with me pointing to it then I would gladly go behind the counter and get it for her. She then rolled her eyes and looked, of course found it and then began slamming the keys on the cash register because she was obviously agitated. The woman beside me had witnessed the whole encounter and realized that her missing prescription probably couldn’t be found because of the clerk’s lack of skill. She asked if the clerk would mind checking again on hers as well. Magically she managed to find it in the same bin.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

French Tips, Drainage Bags and Testicles

I’ve never had a good experience when getting my nails done. The first time I got my nails done I was a complete novice to the process and just my luck I ended up with the Nail Nazi taking care of me. He berated me for chewing my own natural nails down to nubs because he had hardly anything to work with and he also got frustrated with me when he was telling me something and I replied with “what?” or didn’t do what he commanded immediately. How was I supposed to know “You go wah han na” meant “You go wash hands now”? On top of the fact that he was speaking so fast and obviously mad at me it was a very frustrating experience. I then trained myself to listen very carefully and after learning the general process I could usually decipher what they were saying during future appointments. I had not had my nails done in several years when I passed by a nail salon on Saturday that was offering a full set of acrylics for $15. I’m a sucker for a bargain and decided I should devote a little time to myself and at that price I deserved to. I walked in to what I expected to be a full salon and found much to my surprise no one was there. This should have been my first clue. A short guy comes out of the back, introduces himself as Ping, and motions to a seat. After we get through the basic chat detailing what I want he gets to work. He starts talking to me through the mask that they wear. I think this muffling makes an already hard to understand dialect even harder to understand. I really just wanted to relax and not talk. Americans can pick up on the subtle cues that I don’t want to talk to them which I try to project 24/7. The Vietnamese apparently do not. He goes through asking me a million questions I can barely understand in between talking to his brother who is sitting next to him in his native tongue about me and giggling. Ping is done with my first hand and is getting starting on the second when another customer comes in. She is apparently well known to the establishment since they call her by name. Linda (at least I think that was her name, the pronunciation I heard was Lina or Wina, I couldn’t be sure) sat down beside me and Ping’s brother promptly started working on her. I noticed a smell coming from this woman but being she was extremely overweight I assumed it was weird body odor. I then began to drift off in my mind and try to tune everything out (Ping was now carrying on a conversation with his brother and Linda) when I was promptly pulled out of my attempt at a day dream by the brother. He was asking Linda what the tubing was hanging from her shirt. I had not noticed this when she walked in. She then lifted her shirt and showed him that she had a drain coming out of her stomach from a surgery that she recently had where the incision got a massive infection and she now had to have this drain for a few days to get the pus out. I kid you not, a drain bag complete with a bit of orange tinged liquid at the bottom. At least the origin of the weird smell was no longer a mystery. After she explained all of this Ping asked her why she wasn’t home in bed since she had the drain and she responded that she needed to get her nails done for her date. Now exactly what kind of date do you have that is so important you have to show up with a drainage bag connected to your stomach? The act of getting perfect French tips for the date in the first place seems kind of trivial when you have A FREAKING DRAIN ATTACHED TO YOUR BELLY! Although acrylic nails can be quite beautiful I don’t think their beauty is quite enough to make someone not notice a drainage bag hanging from you. Imagine that conversation. “Why what interesting perfume you have on Linda. What is it called?” “Oh honey that’s not my perfume that’s the puss from my drainage bag. Are you ready to order our food yet?” Apparently Ping and his brother did not seem to notice the socially unacceptable practice of showing up for a date with a drainage bag attached. They kept talking and laughing. I must have tuned out while pondering Linda’s date rationale because I was pulled back into the conversation by Ping snapping his fingers at me. He wanted to know if I knew the English word for that thing that hangs down between a man’s legs. I stared at him for a few seconds and then said “testicles”. Then he was all excited that I had given him the right word. He then said “testicles, that what I meant, dog testicles” to Linda and his brother. In Ping’s home county they castrate their dogs by placing a rubber band around their testicles and waiting for them to fall off. How they got on this particular subject I do not know. I began to think that perhaps I was in a really bad dream or I’d been killed in a car accident earlier in the day and I was on the first level of Dante’s Inferno. Ping finally finished with me, I paid and wished Linda good luck on her date, got in my Jeep and left skid marks in the parking lot. As I was peeling out of there I noticed letters on the roof that said Bargain Nail. Not plural, just one nail. Maybe they had an “S” before but a rival nail salon placed a rubber band around it.