This Is Why I Drink

Yesterday was Monday and I got up for work. I put together food for Todd to take to work to get him started on a healthy diet and weight loss. It wasn’t a stressful morning. I even made him breakfast. We had a snow event Saturday and Sunday so we stayed in all weekend and cooked stuff and V’s dad brought her home for school yesterday so I wouldn’t have to drive in bad road conditions the night before.

Time to leave for work – completely flat tire on the rear left. Thank God Todd was still home so he fixed it and I was only 10 minutes late to work.

I was on phones yesterday in the morning. It’s January. EVERYBODY and their child has something. This week’s special: vomiting, diarrhea, and ear aches. I’m not mentioning the lingering cough we’ve all been reading about because, let’s face it, it’s now part of the regular menu.

Here follows an excerpt of my morning calls, or, what you shouldn’t do when calling your pediatrician’s office.

First difficult call of the day: I had to conference in a translator so I could register a new patient in Spanish. Patient is in his teens. We still accept new patients up to age 16, but Spock would say it’s illogical to go to the trouble of transferring in for only two years.

She wanted to schedule a well visit for him. Now. We need to have records in our office before we can schedule any appointments. I explained this, as well as the fact that we are scheduling well into March, April, and May. What? Oh no! He needs it NOW. She went on and on in Spanish for several minutes, because she was told by our office in November that she would have to call back in January. Ahem. NO ONE could possibly have told her that, because – need records first, then can schedule. Someone clearly misunderstood. She wasn’t backing down. Several more minutes of Spanish where I was able to pick out a handful of words which I shouldn’t have done because it made my head pound. Finally, I gave up engaging in this back and forth, since it wasn’t going to change anything. She still has to bring records in, she still has to change us to his PCP on her insurance, and we still DON’T HAVE ANY APPOINTMENTS BEFORE MARCH. Longest phone call ever, and it was still barely 10 a.m.

Next up: mom calling for a referral. That was the easy part. Then, both her kids needed well child visits; they’re due in February, and… SEE ABOVE. And – she wanted them both seen at the same visit. Easily spent 20 minutes on the phone with her trying to find a time for both children to be seen, NOT with their usual provider because that just ain’t gonna happen if she wants them together. Said she’d take any provider, but not the nurse practitioner (who has appointment availability sooner) because one child has “issues.” Found her an appointment in April with someone, and she happily took it. It just took forever to end this call.

Finally – and believe me there are several more I’ve blocked out – a dad called and wanted his son seen TODAY. By this time, we were completely booked and so I offered to have a nurse call and advise/direct him, or he could go to urgent care. This was before lunch.

Should I take him to the ER instead? That would be your decision… I’m not clinical so I’m unable make recommendations on that.

Well, can you schedule him an appointment for tomorrow?

I’m sorry, I cannot pre-book sick appointments for the next day. I can have one of our nurses call you and advise you and/or we recommend going to urgent care. Or, you can call back tomorrow morning and be scheduled then.

Well, who does the scheduling? I do, and nurses will schedule sick patients who need to be seen.

So why can’t YOU just schedule him for tomorrow?

I am not able to pre-book sick appointments for the next day. But again, I can have a nurse call you and advise you.

Where is urgent care? Will they take my insurance?

There is ******* in ******* or the CHOP urgent care location opens at 4 p.m. YOU will have to check with your insurance about coverage.

Well, can I speak to a nurse?

Absolutely. I will have her call you. What are your son’s symptoms?

He’s been vomiting and has diarrhea.

For the record, I always end my calls with a big smile, hoping against hope that it is felt through the air waves that I am very pleasant and not the least bit annoyed with difficult people.

Also for the record, we DO NOT see patients who have vomiting and diarrhea. And, in case you don’t already know, this is a VIRUS. It has to run its course and there’s absolutely nothing a doctor can do for you. Unless you are dehydrated and unable to keep even water down. THEN, go to the emergency room. Common sense, folks!

I’m just glad I wasn’t on phones after lunch, having to tell everyone who called that we have no more appointments left today. Sounds awful, right? But, this is the way it is in the winter. Everyone is getting sick and there are only so many appointments available in a day. That we were booked by 10:30 a.m. should tell you how many sick kids are out there. Which is why sick calls are triaged… so the nurses can determine who needs to be seen or who just needs home care.

And then today I woke up with headache and GI stuff and an enormous sore on my lip, something I’ve never had like this, ever. It started yesterday at work, and slowly grew but not terrible. This morning, it only added to the issues I woke with – and it is HUGE and ugly. And, it looks like there’s another one brewing on the other side.

The kids were fighting over the washing machine last night – imagine! So these are the arguments I’m diffusing nowadays. Now they’re both doing their own wash and I’m still reeling from the shock of having more time on my hands. Even Opac has taken on the challenge of unclogging a toilet – thus, I haven’t had to do this in a while either. Who ARE these kids living in my house? Still, no one is cleaning the bathroom.

I went to the store on Saturday, which we’ve already determined is to be avoided at all costs. But, necessity boiled over. I turned up an aisle of the parking lot and sat still in my car while three different people, WHO WERE WALKING TOWARD MY CAR, took up the entire aisle. Not one of them thought to move out of my way. Todd said, I’d have blown my horn. And I said, that’s precisely why I left you at home. People inside the store are no better. The rules of the road should apply to shopping cart etiquette but clearly most of these folks missed the memo.

The animals remain constant, though. Sabra is still freaked out by gunshots (we live in redneck land where no celebration is complete without gunfire). She’s shaggy and stinky again and needs the groomer. She runs from me when I pull out the brush. She acts uncomfortable on the couch when we’re home, but I KNOW she’s up there when we’re not because I see paw imprints.

Oliver lies on the couch every day, usually right after I’ve cleaned all of his fur from it. He continues his morning whine for canned goodness, and afterward waits on the kitchen stool for one of us to turn on his video game. For reals. There’s an animated mouse video on YouTube we put on for him, and he stands on the counter and bats at these mice like Rocky Balboa. Hey – it’s exercise. At least until he tires himself out and lies down on the counter and just watches them go by.

 

Miscellaneous:

Other things to keep in mind when going to your pediatrician:

We don’t prescribe birth control pills.

Pink eye = extremely contagious. You will not be seen for that. Prescriptions are called in.

You cannot be “billed” for your copay. (Well, it does happen, but generally speaking, NO.)

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT “walk in” to the office without an appointment. And, to that end, if your child fell through a plate glass door and is bleeding in multiple places, DO NOT go to the pediatrician’s office. You need to go to the ER.

Fevers that come and go with ibuprofen – will come and go with ibuprofen. In other words, fever returns when the medication wears off? Of course it does. And there’s never a dumb question or first time parent who doesn’t worry about what seems like the smallest things. Don’t be afraid to call for the nurse. Just don’t holler at the front desk person who has parameters to follow for scheduling sick appointments.

Likewise, please don’t holler at the scheduler who can’t pull well visits out of their ass for you. First come, first serve is a real thing ya’ll.

Don’t get mad at the front desk when your ex-wife told you the appointment time was a half-hour earlier than it actually is. Also, by the same token, do not involve us in your domestic disputes. There is nothing we can do about it, unless there are court documents.

When your child turns 18, they are a legal adult. They should be transitioning to an adult provider, but until they do, please know that without your new adult’s consent, we are unable to discuss his/her healthcare with you. It’s the LAW.

Finally, realize that your child is one of hundreds of patients in a practice. We care about all of them, but there are only so many doctors and nurses, and we can’t always perform miracles. Use patience and kindness when asking for what you want, and that kindness and patience will be returned.

 

 

 

Advertisements

25 Thoughts After A Crash

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God

Am I dead? I don’t think I’m dead.

Am I hurt? I can’t tell. Am I? My shoulder and neck feel like they’re on fire.

What’s that smell? Is that smoke?

I have to get out NOW. The door won’t open. The passenger door opens. Good. I’m climbing out of the car.

I want to scream at her. But I don’t.

My kids. Call Opac, who is waiting for me to pick him up a quarter of a mile away. Make sure he knows I’m safe, but not coming.

Veruca. She’s going to come home, and I’m not going to be there. Maybe I should call the school. No, don’t call the school. Don’t want to scare her. Tell O not to tell her anything until I can call her.

My hands won’t stop shaking.

Have to call Todd. Tell him I’m okay, but the car is not.

I guess we’ll have to have the car towed and then I’ll go home. He tells me to go to the hospital. I guess I should? I don’t know.

The woman in the other car is not a woman. She’s a 17-year-old girl.

She asks me if I’m okay. I say no. She just wrecked my car. How can I be okay? But I don’t say any of that. She says, “you must’ve been really speeding.” Oh no, she dint.

The state trooper asks me what happened. Good Samaritan next to me says he doesn’t think the girl saw me at all.

EMTs arrive. One of them insists I sit down. I don’t want to sit in the car. I sit on the guard rail, and he asks if it’s okay to put an arm around me, in case I pass out. I don’t think I’ll do that, but I trust him.

Still trembling all over. But insanely calm. They put a neck brace on me.

My neck is starting to hurt. Bad. I’m worried about the two new discs I had in June.

In the ER. They superimpose my birth year, and I tell them that while I’d love to be 22 again, I am NOT.

Alone in the room. Blood pressure and heart rate really high. I need CTs and xrays. They need a urine sample in case I’m pregnant. When will people stop asking this?

I’m okay.  I’m okay, right? This neck brace hurts like hell. They won’t let me take it off yet, but they give me ibuprofen.

What if something is really wrong, even though I feel alive? What if they don’t let me go home today?

Opac calls to check in with me. I talk to V. She is upset, but I am calm. Insanely calm. I think she’s reassured.

The CTs and x-rays are done, and I’m in a holding area to be taken back to my ER room. It’s taking forever for someone to take me back. The calm is slipping away rapidly, because Todd just texted me that he’s here. I need to see him.

And then the phone rings. It’s O, checking in again. His voice calms me, because I have to sound calm. He tells me to stay calm. My almost-18-year-old is telling me to be calm.

Finally. I see Todd, and the façade is gone, and the first tears come. My heart rate is still high, but it’s coming down. They give me some valium to calm me. I’m going home.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Days In, and I’m Stabby

giphy-8

I had planned a nice New Year post or two – you know, reflecting on 2016 and then looking ahead to 2017 and possible resolutions. But, it happened again… PMS rolled in like that relative everybody hates to spend the holidays with and now I’m p-o’d and blocked.

It all started Saturday morning. Or, maybe it was the day before when the pets reminded me that vacations mean nothing to them. But I recovered from that and went on to enjoy a Christmas party with the bowling league that was filled with entertainment for all the senses. It had everything – good food, juicy gossip, drive-by smooches (don’t ask), shots, hilarious stories, … oh yeah, and Todd was throwing strikes. Chocolate Cake shots, by the way, do not taste like chocolate cake. I haven’t been drinking lately, so when one friend ordered the next shot – Duck Farts – and I asked what the hell it was, I knew it was going to be a long car ride home.

So, it really all started Saturday morning. Todd had scheduled an appointment with our solar guy to talk about adding more solar to our existing panels. I knew the house was less than – okay, I knew it wasn’t clean – but I figured they’d sit at the dining room table and so Jim Kirk (I swear to GOD) wouldn’t have to go where no man has gone in three days. I was wrong.

I went to the kitchen for coffee and heard them in the living room. And I saw a dirty pair of socks lying on the kitchen floor that’d be hard to miss on one’s way to the living room. Next to the table covered with the aftermath of our get-together with my dad, stepmom and brother three days before. And the kitchen counters littered with debris and dirty dishes piled in the sink. And I knew that the living room wasn’t much better, between a carpet that had grown its own pet hair and the bed pillows and blanket tossed carelessly aside from the morning before. AND… the Christmas tree wasn’t lit. Why the HELL hadn’t Todd at least thought to light the damn tree? It stood, wilting in its darkened corner, just four feet away from where they were sitting like the fucking grim reaper.  Oh yeah, and my pot of herbs I’d brought inside that looks more like a bucket of weeds I keep forgetting to water, than the succulent herbs they once were. I was mortified. MORTIFIED. And, not a little PISSED.

Jim, for his part, seemed unaffected by the ambience. He’s probably seen worse, but I didn’t want MY house to rank up there with them. Todd told me it wasn’t a big deal. He doesn’t worry about stuff like this, which is infuriatingly both a good thing and a mortal flaw.

PMS also takes me down the road of intolerance, which seems to have hit an all-time high this year. I know it’s only the third day. But this isn’t a safe way to start a new year. At least not for the bystanders.

There’s a very fine line between charity and taking advantage. I’m standing on the precipice of intolerance for what I feel has all the appearances of taking advantage. When one has clearly defined expectations and boundaries – no matter whether those are ignored, overlooked, or forgotten – I’m not very tolerant when things begin to look very different. So, I’m going through this again. It’s an opportunity to reevaluate what we wanted in the first place and how to get back to the original plan.

Meanwhile, I’m sweating the little stuff. Something happened recently, whether by ignorance or intention, that was a clear exclusion of Me. My first reaction was, oh. Quickly followed by thoughts that instantly reminded me that my stepmom wouldn’t have missed this slight, and I know she’d never let us hear the end of it. Sidenote: my stepmom is an exceptional woman I spent my early twenties silently judging only to learn and fully understand (read: eat my words) many of those things as I moved into adulthood, and I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for her.

Anyway, I journaled it and now cryptically posted it here just to annoy you. Because misery loves company. Because I’m annoyed that the tent rental company who provided us the tent for my in-laws’ 50th anniversary party sent out a generic email thanking me for my business and… we value you, blah blah blah, and we’re following up to see if  you’re planning a similar event this year and to lock in last year’s prices now, blah blah… and I’m thinking, how many 50th anniversary parties do you think we have? I know, picky picky. That’s what PMS does to you, people.

Which is why we shouldn’t go out in public for two weeks every month. Because today I took Veruca to a dermatologist and the dude seriously thought I was there for the bags under her eyes. Yes, she has bags under her eyes – she’s been on vacation for 10 days and hasn’t been to bed before 11 o’clock since Christmas Eve. BUT. That is not why we were there, and I had to correct him and then insist he take a closer look. Anyway, he confirmed what we thought it was. But it took all I had not to start spitting and snarling at this so-called professional. So not safe for him.

Everywhere else I went today, everyone was off their game. Everyone. I felt like I was surrounded by aliens impersonating humans. Badly. And they’d look at me with their weird eyes, trying to see if I knew.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

giphy-6

It’s been a pretty shitty week. Again. It all started with that damn monthly bloody mess that ruined my mojo and made me all blubbery on the eve of my son’s 16th birthday. Yeah, I know – too much information. Well buckle up, cause there’s more.

It would be lazy to just say I’ve been pissed off. It all started the weekend of the double shift. One of our servers quit without notice, and we’re already short-staffed. But here’s the thing – I don’t know if I’m more pissed at her, or at myself. I was driving home the last night I worked with her and was thinking about the shit she’s going through, and really feeling for her, you know? So I’m pissed at myself for caring, and not the first time being burned by someone in the workplace. Nevertheless, now we are struggling to serve people once again on a skeleton staff.

Someone who caused someone I love a lot a trouble decided it was okay to walk back into their life recently. Here’s a piece of advice for all you forgiveness seekers: if you really want forgiveness, go knock on their door in PRIVACY. Don’t ambush them in a public place that they can’t escape from or throw you out of, without them looking like the asshole. I’m so angry and disappointed by this series of events, and apparently I didn’t make myself clear enough the first time.

My daughter’s school bus “sex-ed teacher” was reprimanded and that same afternoon got back on the bus, sat in his regular seat, and proceeded to interrogate everybody in the vicinity as to who “told on” him. She was so upset when she got off the bus she said her legs were shaking. SO. One email copied to everybody on the planet, and… Newsflash: Dick and his boner are now sitting in the front of the bus, right behind the bus driver. And Veruca is back on the bus and all is right with the world again.

Meanwhile, I decided to write birthday wishes all over my car windows for Opac – giggling madly to myself when I picked him up from practice. I was so excited to do something fun and silly for him, and guess what? He was raging pissed that I would “disrespect” him, and I don’t love him or even know him if I could do something like that. I know – you’re wondering if you’re missing something now, right? Yeah – so was I. It was ugly.

The political climate is a hot mess and I am maniacally oscillating between profound depression, debilitating anxiety, and downright anger. The country is so divided and people so mean, I’m holding my breath until this whole thing is over, and yet I’m scared that it will never be over. Two days ago someone (who is now no longer a friend) crossed a line and I’m embarrassed to admit I let them slip by a while back when they claimed the Holocaust was a fabrication. Someone commented today on a different thread, that “how it got this far is a testament to the collective intelligence of our country,” and they are right.

For the most part I’ve been avoiding commenting on heated threads, because it makes me upset and the troll who started it just goes on with their day without another thought. Except yesterday… some woman started regurgitating senseless rhetoric and pointing her finger at the Crooked One. And all of a sudden – to quote Eddie Murphy – I started laughing my mother-fuckin ass off.

The thread is still going strong, with no signs of abating. And like an addict I keep checking back in to see what else she comes up with. I hate to admit I admire her conviction, however deranged it might be. If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. I’m just one glass away from public drunkenness. And speaking of public drunkenness, good-lager-gone-bad Yuengling recently endorsed the Orange One. What is the world coming to?

I had yet more disappointment this week as plans for an art show I was organizing fell through. I didn’t get the response I was hoping for and, while I could easily blame so many factors on others, I own the fact that I should have started organizing earlier this year. In some ways I’m relieved – my nerves were frayed at the thought of it all – but the embarrassment at having to pull the show isn’t going to wear off for a while, I think.

It’s just another blow to an already fragile ego – one that has been behaving badly this whole year and embarrassing itself in public places. Lucky for me, I still have my family… and my husband who not only gets me, but still loves me in spite of myself.

**Disclaimer: I don’t use the upgraded service; therefore, you will see ads at the bottom of my posts (ads I don’t see because I’m not you). As it has come to my attention that certain ads may not align with my world views – I am compelled to add the following statement until further notice.

I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP. NOT YESTERDAY, NOT TODAY, NOT – EVER.

How I Spent the First Day of School

giphy (5)

I’m deleting an email from Pep Boys. How the f*ck did I get on their email list? I don’t even go there. I don’t “do” cars. I drive them, but I leave the repairs to my motorhead husband. When he starts talking about anything beyond horsepower (which also means nothing to me, but don’t tell him), like intake manifold and camshaft bearing, I can seriously feel my eyes glaze over and the corners of my mouth slacken. I can tell you that we have a V-6, but only because I tried really hard to remember what he kept calling our 2012 Mustang. Which, by the way, I DO know isn’t the fastest engine we can buy.

I’m in the foulest mood I’ve been in, in years. First day of school is over, and it was all going so well. The middle school couldn’t accommodate a pre-first day 504 meeting last Friday (which, by the way, was – at the time –the only day they were available before the first day of school), but no matter – a phone call with the guidance counselor set everything straight and this morning I drove Veruca’s box of diabetes supplies to the nurse. The front office still looked a bit “frantic” just 20 minutes after the first bell, and I wished them all well as I said farewell, gloating only a little bit that I was going home to an empty house where all was peaceful. (Hey, they were all smiling like the cat that swallowed the canary on the last day of school. Paybacks are a bitch, ya’ll.)

Meanwhile, back on the cul de sac… After Veruca got on the bus, I returned home to an unlocked house and went straight to the bathroom. Where I realized I’ve been listening to too much Forensic Files on Sirius XM. For some reason I thought, shouldn’t I take my phone with me? What if someone got in the house while I was at the bus stop? And then I heard a loud noise and suddenly, the fear was real. I yanked up my pants and prepared to bolt out of the house when I saw Sabra just outside my door. (She literally drops to the floor like something straight out of a cartoon – throws all 4 legs in the air simultaneously and lands on her belly with a thundering bang. I kid you not.)

I went back to my grant research when a few minutes later, the doorbell rang. Who the f*ck is this now? (Because swearing is my go-to emotional outlet presently. Don’t worry, this will pass.) There was a beat up pickup truck in my driveway, and some middle-aged guy who was more middle-aged than me, was standing on my front porch. Again, John Walsh’s voice in my head, I debated on whether or not to open the door. In the end, I did, and this dude wanted to know if Ted’s truck was for sale, because he “just happened” to be driving though – a cul de sac, ya’ll – and noticed the truck just sitting there. I pondered the possibility that he was a) full of shit, because who just drives through a cul de sac, b) he was a serial killer, or c) really was just driving through because he has no job/life/wife and routinely turns onto deadend streets because Who the F*ck does that, really?

Meanwhile Sabra, who used to bark every time the front door opened, has stopped barking. For once I was wishing she’d do that vicious bellowing – that sounds dangerous until she rounds the corner and you see that she’s just a silly, fluffy poodle. She is seriously depressed, or seriously lost, without Pi. She rarely comes out of our bedroom unless she’s called, or some special food is offered (cause, ya know, dogfood is so “old school”), and I’m trying not to worry about it. Too much. I realized today that the “Grass is Always Greener” cliché is real. Her lack of interest in psycho-dude is rattling, for sure. Girlfriend is my last line of defense when a psycho killer-rapist come knocking.

So, the end of the day came quick and Veruca exited her bus like a champ. And climbed into my waiting vehicle like a bitch from hell. She demanded to know why she couldn’t walk home from the bus, and why I had to pick her up, etc., etc. I stopped talking to her, since my counselor told me that times like these, don’t join the party. (Side note: very effective long term – but really difficult to do when it’s happening.)

I was tempted to post something on FB about whiplash, but never got the chance before Todd came home too. Veruca had a serious low (aka, below-50 blood sugar) about an hour after coming home, so I now feel like a complete failure.

Meanwhile, back in Opac-land, football practice ended early today due to the heat, and he came straight home and crashed. He slept through “dinner,” which is currently some shadow of the real thing as V leaves for practice at 5:30 just as O is getting picked up, and it’s anybody’s guess if I-95 will allow Todd to get home before 7. We are eating in shifts.

Opac didn’t want to take out the trash, but moreover – he said if this schedule continues, he “won’t have time” to take out the trash and recycling like he used to. Yeah. He seriously said that to me with a straight face. I suggested that such a strident schedule might indicate that football was no longer necessary, if it interfered with homework and so on… and then I flipped out.

I am so NOT supposed to be winging it. But winging it, I don’t know how the next few weeks are gonna go, and all I can think about is how I don’t want to kill anybody. And it’s only the first day.

P.S. As if all this isn’t enough, the WordPress gods have supremely pissed me off. I checked my page here one day remotely, and was appalled to see an ad for Donald Trump at the bottom of one of my posts. SO, as if I don’t also have enough to do – let this be my first public political statement:

I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP. NOT YESTERDAY, NOT TODAY, NOT – EVER.