My face doesn't drain like a normal person. I don't need a single tissue because all the stuff stays packed in there until my brain gets crushed and my eyes bulge. Nothing I could do at home would work and the weather keeps making it worse, so I decided to go to the doctor on Friday. Too bad I already had a hair and dentist appointment for that day, which I coulda/shoulda canceled but I did not because sometimes you have a headache long enough to not have any sense.
I arrive at the doctor's building and stand at the elevator all confused, head pounding. I can't remember her floor. Why didn't I write down what floor she's on? I've probably been here 20 times, but still... 5th? That sounds familiar. I get off on 5 and wander in a circle. No. I get off on 6 and do another circle hallway. No. I get off on 7 and just stand there. What the hell am I doing? I have a phone! I call the office and find out they are on the 8th floor...
Doctor prescribes antibiotics. She also says, "Expect a multitude of stomach woes with this drug, but it will take care of everything in the end." That's just what I want to hear because I'm already having lots of stomach woes due to my favorite past-time of fretting and drinking dragon coffee. Really, every morning I expect to lift my shirt and find that acid has eaten a smoldering hole right thru my middle.
I like this doctor, and the fact that she doesn't tip-toe around anything. When I tell her my stomach is pretty raw and angry, she asks why, and I say I probably think with my stomach. And she wants to know what my stomach is thinking about.
I say, "Uh...I don't know. Family. Family stuff."
She shrugs, "F*ck 'em."
Sure, I love for the word "f*ck" to just be thrown around by a professional, but I suppose I looked surprised.
"What? You don't like that answer?" she asks. "But it's really that simple: don't worry or wonder what's going on with family. Let them take care of themselves."
Hey, why didn't I think of that?
Then moving right along she says, "These poison horse pills will further f*ck up your stomach. Have a glass of milk or a chicken leg with your horse pill."
I find it funny that she thinks there are chicken legs on standby in my fridge.
Then on an unrelated note she points to my mystery sore big toe and says now that I'm getting older I should think about wearing a specially made shoe sole or running shoes. "No more cute shoes, for you!" she declares. But I've never worn uncomfortable shoes (who buys things that hurt to wear?), so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do about this.
I leave her office and repeat the elevator performance by wandering up and down the damn parking garage in circles, unable to find the exit because I've lost about 30% of my sense thru the epic headache, and because I'm a little frantic with long-time fear of the layers of parking collapsing on each other to sandwich me. One more wrong turn and I find myself near the top of the garage again, and I feel tearful and angry and want to abandon my car and leap to the ground.
But I need to go to the dentist next, and it's too far to walk, so I calm down and start reading signs to exit.
Haven't had dental insurance for over a year, was kinda busy for months before that, and now I am maybe two years overdue a cleaning. New insurance by default just stuck some guy's name on the card, and that's where I will go.
So I find this office at a kind of run-down and mostly deserted 70's office building and go inside. I'm the only one in the tiny waiting room. The lady behind the counter gives me forms to fill out, and while I do so she tells me the lifelong story behind this dentist and the office. She says that this dentist did not want to be a dentist anymore. He had left the practice to another dentist in order to fulfill some other dream of operating several gift shops at the airport. She said he was making a fortune doing that for years, but then the other dentist just quit one day out of the blue, and that left an office lease and equipment and such, so my dentist had to return to his loathed business and see it thru once again.
And then she jokes with me about how sorry my new dental insurance is, but not to worry because the dentist is open to haggling the price. Wow, that's such good and questionable news. I've got a new dentist who doesn't want to be a dentist, and he hasn't practiced in years, and I could possibly be charged a fortune, but he might cut me a deal if I throw in some chickens and couple jars of preserves...?
I sit down by the magazines and notice that they are all in Spanish. So I look around the room for something else to stare at and realize all signs, notices, brochures are in Spanish. There is nothing in the room for me to look at the pass the time except for a plant that I dare myself to identify as real or fake from across the room before I go touch it. Fake. And there are cigarette butts in the planter.
Now that the receptionist isn't talking on the phone, I can now hear the dentist talking in the other room. He is lecturing a patient about Pavlov's dog, only he's mixing up the actual events of the experiment, and then trying to relate it to the care of teeth in a way that makes me worry.
A few minutes later that fellow leaves. The office is silent, and then the dentist himself comes out to get me in the waiting room BECAUSE THE DENTIST AND THE RECEPTIONIST ARE THE ONLY TWO EMPLOYEES OF THIS ENTIRE OFFICE.
He escorts me to a dental chair next to a big bongo drum and shakes my hand. And then he talks to me about being a dentist and getting to know patients and how some people are afraid of dentists and how if we don't initially get along he will send me on my way---this goes on FOR ABOUT 30 MINUTES, during which time Pavlov's dogs come up a couple times,
along with the fact that he disappeared from dentistry and is "still finding his way back in." It's slowly also being revealed to me that my teeth will not be cleaned today, and he doesn't have a hygienist. He does everything himself, and in his own sweet time.
Then he finally looks over my teeth and marks on a paper as he goes. He shows me the mouth chart afterward and points at three teeth crossed out with his red ink.
"Your teeth are very good, but you have three spots where the gum is pulling away from the tooth too much. You're still really young, so maybe there's time to save these teeth...How old are you?"
"Oh, then we don't have time," he laughs, shaking his head. "Heh, I thought you were younger...See, soon you will go thru hormonal things that will pull the gum away even more, and those teeth will be lost."
"THOSE TEETH ARE GOING TO FALL OUT???"
"I don't paint pretty pictures for my patients," he says, smiling. "I'm giving you the truth. See, you're getting older, AND you've brushed too hard in those spots. There are prices to pay, you know..."
"SO WE CAN'T SAVE THOSE TEETH???"
"There are a couple things to try, but they involve introducing something foreign to your mouth, and I don't believe in that," he shakes his head. "For now you will rinse with something that makes your teeth stronger in those spots and see what happens..."
He goes off in another Pavlov's dog rant,
but I have tuned him out and am picturing my toothless mouth and how other dentists have gone as far as sending me to get painful gum-grafts to help my previous bouts of receding gums, and how I saved every penny for those procedures, and how they've worked so far, and F*CK THIS SHIT, I'll go somewhere else to SAVE MY F*CKING TEETH and how/why in the world do I end up with a dentist who throws his hands in the air (along with my teeth)???? Holy crap, I gotta get out of here.
My head hurts so bad that I think an alien might burst out of my forehead and pull this guy off his feet, hurl him against the wall. I'm picturing it. He's so very nice and pleasant, mind you, but I'm wondering if he even cares if my teeth fall out. No, he's probably wondering how many magazines he's sold at the airport today.
His final bit of insanity is that he's noticed some wear on my teeth from grinding. I told him that I clench/grind my teeth all night, and the previous dentist gave me a mouthpiece to wear while I sleep, so it's being taken care of, thanks.
"Ah, those mouthpieces. I don't like them. Again, introducing something foreign to your mouth---"
I'm going to introduce something foreign to YOUR mouth: both of my feet at once.
He continues, "The mouthpiece is a crutch. You should throw it away. Rather, you condition yourself to no longer grind your teeth. Look in the mirror and pinch yourself when you think of grinding."
"I'm ASLEEP when it happens!"
"I know, but you condition yourself during the day," he says, "and then when your mind thinks of grinding at night it will remember the pinch. This is like Pavlov's dog..."
I interrupt, "OK, I'm sorry but I have to go now."
So he tells me that he will see me in two weeks for the cleaning and to make an appointment with the receptionist. The receptionist says, "Your visit is only $5. Not bad! And your teeth are very clean already, so he says insurance will fully cover your cleaning when you come back."
Like I'm coming back. But I let her write down an appointment anyways. And then she says, "Ok, Thursday at 3:00... You know, you should call ahead to confirm. Things go right out of my head, and I might forget."
Really? Right out of your head? Even though it's written on that GIANT CALENDAR under your face? Even though it's YOUR JOB to make appointments? Ok.
And then the dentist comes back in the room. He says, "Oh yes, please confirm as this appointment comes closer. I have a couple meetings soon, can't remember the dates. Your appointment might coincide with those, and I might have to cancel. I'll let you know when you call."
(Ah, in case I've forgotten that this whole "dentist" gig comes second to all other things...)
Then receptionist say to him, "Oh, here, she's given me $10, can you give me change?"
He heads back to his dark little office, "Ummm...No, she can pay the $5 when she comes back," and then he shuts his door, and then I hear a television being to blare.
I run out of that office thinking I'll have to mail that $5 because I can't come back. Again, this is something I should have run from AN HOUR ago, but I can't always pull myself away from a bizarre situation unfolding in front of me. I need to start taking cues like the bongo drum with instruments on it.
I go to the car and kinda want to vomit because my head pounds more thinking about the dentist. But I'm gonna forget about him -- there's 45 minutes left before cutting my hair, so I can sit there in the car and call my health insurance once again try to unravel why everything about my account is screwed up, otherwise I might have trouble picking up my poison horse pills.
Every time I go to the pharmacy, they claim I'm uninsured. I've corrected this ten times, but I'm lucky to even have insurance so I'll call them ten more times if I have to, and I'll be put on hold ten times after being told I don't exist. This new phone call from my car also goes in circles, but for once we confirm a new bit of info: pharmacy says that they fill prescriptions for another girl with my exact name, and she has my same insurance! Because that's so likely! They say she's probably getting charged for my prescriptions, but no one can really work this out for me, so for now maybe I should just "sit on this and let it resolve." Well, sure, we'll just let this all unfold in a lawsuit and/or some surprise bills in the mail soon.
Moving on, I drive on to get my hair cut. I've avoided cutting it since sometime last year. Every other time I go to get anything done to my hair there is some disaster, and I'm not kidding, and that's a whole other story, so my fear of even getting my hair trimmed is justified.
I've randomly picked a whole new lady to cut it because even a guy I trusted managed to lose his mind last time, so what the hell.
This lady sits me in a chair and moves as fast as she can. She rapid-fire suggests this and that. "PLEASE cut off more than one inch," she says, "It'll look better. PLEASE let me shorten those 'bangs' you've got pushed there to the side. Please, let me make them subtle and softer for your face..." OK, I relent on both, but I tell her to please take it fucking easy on those bangs.
She cuts off four inches of hair in back. One. Four. What's the difference... But then she grabs a huge chunk of hair in the front of my face and WHACK!---cuts it straight across. Yeah, those are some subtle bangs, lady. I could have done that myself. They look terrible. I don't say a word. I don't want her to do anything else.
I came into the store with a pony-tail, so she for some reason feels obligated to put it back in now that she's finished with her hack job. She takes my wet hair and starts roughly combing the f*ck out of it while she talks, ripping out great chunks, ignoring the long hair rule of combing from the bottom and working your way up, 'cause they don't do it that way at Clown Hair College. And while I'm saying, "That's enough. Hey... I'm good, thanks," she yanks it back into super-tight pony-tail that makes my eyes water. She rushes me to the counter to pay, and THERE she slows down and tries to ask personal questions and seem friendlier, relaxed, but it's too late for that chit-chat now. I rush away while she is still rambling about my last name being Italian.
I do the old remorseful hair examination in the car mirror, but this is a short bout of hair grief because it's just too late. This has happened too many times to even be surprised or react fully. There's always the two times my bangs were melted off and that other time brown turned out to be dark purple... I just want to get home. There is just something about a migraine that makes one care a little less about things happening, as it seems there will be no tomorrow.
After more arguing over my existence in the pharmacy's computer, I pick up a prescription for poison horse pills and reach my house. Here I want immediate relief from the pressure in my face. One thing I usually do is put my face over a bowl of steaming water, but today I opt for a hot-pack.
I hold the pack across my face while I think about teeth and hair and orthopedic shoes... The heat-pack feels really good. After about ten minutes I pull it away from my face, and
It's not pitch black, but I can't see a f*cking thing. Everything is blurry, even my own hand that's inches from my face. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? I walk around the house completely astounded, blinking and rubbing my eyes. I'm blind! I can see a bunch of colors, but no objects.
Now you've done it -- blinded yourself with a hot pack. How could I have never heard the dangers of putting something warm over my eyes? Surely some other dumbasses on the planet have done this by now, so why haven't I heard?
I rinse my eyes with cold water, but nothing helps. I'm surprisingly calm, I realize, while I go outside and look at the sky and trees. I wait for vision. Wait. Wait.
Ok, fuck this, I'm calling someone, but I'm almost embarrassed that such a stupid thing has happened. Do I call my husband? He'll think I'm kidding, or if he takes me seriously he'll rush home all crazy and not know what to do either. Then I remember my aunt is an eye doctor, so I get my cell phone and hold it up to my face. I can barely see the names on the screen coming and going---hey, this has got to be good that I can see off and on at least. I dial her number and get voice-mail, and I say, "Hey, can you, uh, call me back about an eye concern?" It seems premature to tell her I'm blind.
Meanwhile I call my mom and tell her, "I'm blind!" --- but not hysterically, 'cause I'm trying to kinda joke about it and not be scared. And we laugh and laugh because that's what we do when we fall down or hit our heads or blind ourselves. Anyway, as I'm talking to her I can slowly see more off and on between one eye or the other.
My aunt calls back, and I feel pretty foolish having to tell her that I melted my eyes. I describe the hot-pack, and she calmly explains that between the heat and the pressure of the pack on my eyeballs I temporarily reshaped my corneas. She says they will slowly bounce back, which they are doing as we speak and I look around the yard.
During this conversation we move on to discuss my many headaches, and she suggests that BECAUSE OF MY AGE I might try a pair of low-powered reading glasses. AT MY AGE, eye strain from some early far-sightedness could be one of many culprits, she says. Reading glasses. Ok, I'll pick those up with my orthopedic shoes and new teeth soon. I don't know, I'll take any headache advice I can get, but this probably wasn't the best day to think I might need reading glasses.
So everything calms down, and within 20 minutes I have my eyes back. I get off the phone with her and stand on the deck to fully appreciate a gloriously focused view of the clouds for a bit before I go to lie down with my head under a pillow.
My Grandma Val always used to say to get up every day and swing my legs over the side of the bed and then smile because I have legs and they work, so I try start my day that way ... then I get all my buttons pushed and try to find my way back to gratefulness by bed-time. What a stupid day it has been, and my head is still pounding, but I'm so glad to have my eyes back it's all forgotten.