You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2010.

About ten years ago, I had my wisdom teeth removed.  As I was in the salad days of still being on my parent’s heath insurance, I got to go to an oral surgeon, get general anesthesia and painkillers afterward rather than trolling the internet for the cheapest medical care I can find or just crossing my fingers and hoping whatever it is goes away, like I do now.

Early in the morning I went to the oral surgeon, and the doctor (who has the largest hands I’ve ever seen on a human) cut out my three wisdom teeth while I  slumbered peacefully.  After that, as I was coming out of anesthesia, an incredibly annoying women wearing garish scrubs tried to keep me awake by telling me that Days of Our Lives was on.

“You have to stay awake,” she told me, “Look–Days is on!”

My memories of this experience are naturally hazy, but I remember being unable to speak thinking, why the hell would I want to watch Days?  I hate that show.  If I just quietly close my eyes and go back to sleep, she’ll never know… Finally she got so fed up with me, she forced me to get out of the bed and sit on a bench.  Then the doctor came in and told me that the EKG from when I was put under indicated that I have an irregular heartbeat.  Despite the fact that I was nearly unconscious, couldn’t speak and was still under heavy sedation, he asked me a number of pointed medical questions and advised I get myself a specialist.

When I woke up two days later, Map Fleece reminded me of this new and exciting medical condition to explore, and I set out in search of a cardiologist.  After echocardiograms, and discussions that included questions like “Do you get short of breath climbing stairs quicker than other people do?” and my response, “How in the world would I know how quickly other people get short of breath climbing stairs?” and laying out my entire travel history (this heart condition may be Mexico’s fault) it was concluded that, yes, I do have an irregular heartbeat.

I waited for the cardiologist to expand on this, and he simply shrugged and said, “We have no idea why.  Your heart is shaped correctly, nothing’s amiss there, you’ve just got this thing and we can’t figure it out.  If it doesn’t cause you any distress, then I’d say don’t worry about it.”

Always comforting words to hear.

Since that time, I’ve been kicked off my parents’ insurance and have not spent much time with doctors.  There was the stress fracture in my foot incident, which cost way too much money to have diagnosed and which completely soured me on medical treatment of any kind.  Thankfully, aside from a broken toe, and torn calf muscle, the last few years have been pretty uneventful.  Until the other morning when I was stumbling bleary-eyed through the bathroom on my way to make coffee and noticed that my face was twice its usual size.

My entire jawline was swollen in a way that made me look like a cartoon character.  I also had a splitting headache, earache and general sense of unease–though that may have been a symptom of the impending doom of paying for medical treatment again.  I immediately asked the internet what was wrong and learned that I’m probably fighting off an infection of some kind, or it could be cancer–have to wait and see.  As my ears hurt, I assumed that I just have a simple ear infection that a bit of amoxicillin can wipe out handily, but as my face has never grown to twice its normal size before, I was still a bit alarmed.

Gentleman Scholar kept giving me worried looks as I sat on the couch all day feeling sorry for myself and watching The Office, and finally after three days of large face I went to the University Health Center at my job (where I can go for free and get a $13 throat culture!).  By the time I actually made it to the health center, my face was back to its normal size, and the Nurse I spoke to was very disappointed in me.

“So it was swollen, here?” she asked.

“All through here, yeah.  I guess it’s gone now, but I couldn’t tell because I feel like I was getting used to it.”

“And this has never happened before?”


“And you have no other symptoms?”

“My ears hurt a bit, and I had a headache, but that’s gone now.” I was starting to feel like I should have taken pictures to prove that I wasn’t making this whole thing up.

“If it happens again, you should come in while you’re still symptomatic.” She said, in a way that sounded like she was chastising me, even though the health center had been closed for the holiday weekend.

So yet again, I am a medical mystery.  Every time I approach a health care professional, he or she lectures me about not having health insurance, and then tells me “I don’t know what’s going on with you.”

They are not making a convincing case for spending tons of money insuring myself.

My grandfather went to the doctor about three times in his life.  He was a farmer who presumably got injured all the time (farming seems dangerous to me), and finally, when he was 88, his leg turned black for mysterious reasons and my grandmother forced him to go see someone.  I have no clue what was actually wrong with him because that wasn’t the important part of the story, as my grandmother told it.  The important part to me–he lived til age 95.

I went out for drinks with some of my lady friends the other day to a place called a snuggery.  The word snuggery should conjure up images of a place with cozy close quarters, tiny tea plates, and overall adorableness.  Since the snuggery is such a cozy place, it’s also a place where you’re acutely aware of the people seated next to you.  I’ve been there a few times and not been bothered by anyone, but whenever I sit next to the table in the far left corner of the front room–things tend to get a bit annoying.

The first time I went there was with Jewish Friend.  She raved about the snuggery despite my protestations that snuggery seems like a made-up word, and certainly one I would require defined before I set foot in it.  Finally she said, “A snuggery is a place where you can get both beer and cupcakes.”  That’s putting it in terms I can understand.

She and I went, and sat in a tiny booth for two right next to the dangerous corner table.  Seated at the table on this particular evening were a couple who looked, as I described them later to another friend, like two people who had recently discovered fitness.  They were both rotund, but smug about it in a way that indicated they had previously been more rotund, and tucking into their food in a way that lets others know they’ve “earned” it.  They were also really, really into each other in the way that rotund people who have recently starting dating another person who shares a love of food and hiking/biking are.

They also treated the server terribly, had conversations where it looked like they wanted to crawl inside of each other, and practiced aggressive hand-holding.  At one point, long after Jewish Friend and I started actively ignoring their almost un-ignorable displays of affection, the man in the couple started crying.  Apparently, his date had said something to him that was “so beautiful” it moved him to tears.  Seriously, I’m not making that up.

Eventually, they paid their bill, produced bicycle helmets from somewhere (despite near-constant complaining that it was too warm in there and couldn’t the proprietor prop the window open with something?), and rode off into the dusk presumably to practice more aggressive hand-holding and have conversations like, “You like that?  I love that! Let’s talk about that thing we both love and eat sorbet!  I’ll feed you.”

This most recent time, we were seated next to the dangerous table full of picture-taking women.  Again, the snuggery is cozy–you’re practically seated on top of the people at the next table, so when a middle-aged pack of hens take pictures over and over with the brightest flash known to man, you notice.  What I failed to understand about this endeavor was:

  1. At least two of the three of them had cameras–couldn’t they just share the pictures?
  2. They weren’t doing anything other than taking pictures.  They’d pose, snap, then look at the pictures they had just taken.  That was their whole evening.  How can you look back fondly on a night where you just went somewhere to take pictures?
  3. They seemed to only be talking about the pictures they had just taken just after they had taken them and were looking at them.  I don’t think you can reminisce when you’re sitting in the same place wearing the same clothes.

Maybe I’m missing the point, but I’ve grown terribly weary of people who go to bars to take pictures to post on facebook that seem to say –“Look how much fun I have!”  How can you have fun when all you’re doing is taking pictures and posing for them?  That’s like a family holiday, not a night of revelry.

Of course, given the fact that I was so close to these groups of people when they each incurred my wrath, they probably heard me making fun and are writing blogs about that angry, frowny-faced librarian-type who ruined all their hand-holding and picture-taking fun.

Since beginning my job a year ago, I’ve found that gross old men who frequent the library just can’t get enough of me.  It’s annoying and bizarre and according to my boss, it’s unlike anything she’s seen in 22 years of public librarianship.  I love being unique, but I wish it was for something I was happy about.

Frankly, I just don’t get it.  Yes, I’m friendly and attractive, but so are my co-workers who don’t have to deal with these attentions.  Honestly, I do not feel that I am hot enough to have to put up with this.  I’ve never reaped the benefits of being a hottie i.e. getting free drinks or airline upgrades, so why do I have to put up with the drawbacks?

This also sounds like a whiny thing to complain about, but the fact is, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable.  It makes it hard to do my job, to focus on the task at hand and to not overanalyze all my interactions with male library patrons.  I shouldn’t have to try to do my work knowing that there’s a person using a particular computer just so he can stare at me, and my co-workers shouldn’t have to field and deflect questions about my whereabouts and work schedule.

Since I’ve been having more issues with a new gross old man at work, I finally broke down and bought a stunt ring i.e. a fake wedding/engagement ring to send the clear signal without words, “I’m not interested in you.”  What’s hilarious about all this, is if I was actually engaged/married I probably wouldn’t wear a ring.  I really dislike wearing jewelry, and the few items I own, I never remember to wear.

We’ll see if this actually works and allows me to go about my workday in peace, or if I need to come up with a plan B.  The only plan B I can think of right now is dressing poorly, which sounds like a lot of expense and effort, so I’m hoping this ring is the magic bullet I need.

Day One: Wore the ring to work and discovered that not only is it slightly too big for me, but it is also incredibly heavy. I put some scotch tape on the back to make it fit better, and tried to ignore the heaviness.  Creepy Old Man #2 came in and did his usual use the 15-minute internet computers right next to me for over an hour and stare at me routine.  I make a point to run my fingers through my hair over and over, displaying the ring prominently as I did it.  The ring got caught in my hair a few times, which did not feel good.

By the end of the day, one of the fake diamonds was missing, but at least it’s one on the side.  I’m starting to think I need a different stunt ring, one that’s less cumbersome, but also would rather not spend a whole bunch of money on jewelry I don’t even want. Plus now, can I really sub in a new ring? Damage done, card played, I’ve got to keep up the pretense.  I am not cut out for jewelry wearing.

Day Two: Forgot to wear stunt ring and got asked out by a man named Earle.  Is this some kind of joke?

I decided to replace initial ring with something smaller.  I then spent an hour on shopping for engagement ring for myself for less than $15, which was odd to say the least.  I finally found something that was the right price and size, and was moderately attractive if a bit ostentatious.  Let’s hope it doesn’t turn my finger green.

It’s not bad, I don’t hate it.  I hope it doesn’t start some kind of rumor in the workplace.

Fast forward to three weeks later, and I’ve been wearing the stunt ring every day at work, and then taking it off immediately at the end of the day.  I’ve injured myself several times getting it caught in books, clothes and all kinds of hazards I never previously noticed.  I also find it a bit hard to type while wearing it.

Several co-workers have asked if I’m engaged, one scoffed and said “my god that looks fake.”

The newest creepy old man in my life has stopped coming into the library since that first day I wore the previous stunt ring.  He may still be coming in on my days off–but who cares!  Life is good again and it’s all down to a piece of ugly jewelry.

If I wasn’t so happy I’d be totally depressed.