There is something about going to the doctor’s office that I just don’t like. It is not the nuisance of getting there, or the lengthy wait in what is apparently a magazine graveyard from early 2009. It is not even the fear of hearing bad news. It is the absolute certainty that whatever the state of my health when I walk through the doors, I am about to take a hit to the dignity that will offend more than than the original affliction. Case in point: yesterday.
I have, at this very moment, a summer cold that is a nasty specimen of its much-loathed kind. My head is stuffed, there is coughing and sneezing and crackling in the ears, and even the obligatory low-grade fever. These combined make even taking a shower seem like a truly monumental task. (But I love my husband so I maintain basic hygiene–although it tends to result in me needing a nap.) Feeling like my griping and grousing was doing surprisingly little to alleviate my symptoms, I bit the bullet and made an appointment to see my GP. The only time they could fit me in was yesterday at 3:30, and that was with the doctor who was covering for the one I normally see. Fine. I should have taken this for the warning from the universe that it undoubtedly was, but under the circumstances could see little alternative.
Ordinarily when I must go to the doctor’s office, I try to go in the morning to get it out of the way and get on with my day. An additional reason being that in the morning the office is far less likely to already be backed up with other patients. Clearly this was a right-thinking policy as I passed the first 45 minutes of my wait in grudging conversation with the other lobby losers of the late afternoon. In terms of the quality of the people watching, it was like a tiny little Walmart all to myself. I sat next to a man who explained at some length that he could no longer work due to his heart (or maybe it was his lungs), and had to sit down several times to catch his breath just while vacuuming his living room. I would have perhaps had more sympathy had he not also told me of his hobby of cycling twenty or more miles a day. I suggested that he attach the vacuum to one of his bikes.
By 4:30 my head was thick and my patience was thin, and I was the last loser in the room. The nurse, Cookie, called me in and began the examination in a very all-or-nothing manner that felt like something out of a cartoon. Of course I had to be weighed in like a boxer–strike one for the ego–and quickly found myself with a thermometer in my mouth (“Did you know you have a fever?” Yes. Yes I did.) and a blood-pressure cuff on my arm and standing in the dark…. apparently it had gotten so late in the day that other nurses were leaving. Oops. Lights back on and finally heading to the exam room. Cookie is jotting down notes when the doctor comes in an introduces herself. I say hello, which causes her eyebrows to go up. “I am guessing your voice isn’t usually that deep.” Well, no. Not being the Marlboro man, no. “She’s going to need a shot. I’ll be right back.” A shot? Of what? Cookie explained that I was about to be the grateful recipient of a miracle shot of some kind of steroid that would clear up my head like a needleful of ammonia. Outstanding. At this point they could have told me they were going to administer wasabi directly into my sinuses with a turkey baster and I would have agreed.
Cookie brought a tiny little syringe with a needle a could barely see into the room. I scoffed at the tiny needle, thinking of the garden hose variety they stick you with when you donate blood. “I’m sorry but this will likely burn a bit,” she said to me. I explained my sanguine attitude towards the tiny needle. “Not from the needle, but in your rear at the injection site.” Excuse me? Did I just hear that I am to get a needle, full of medicine for my head, in the ass? Why yes. That is exactly what I heard, in 2014 we are still getting shots in the ass. As adults. Classic. Here is where I started looking for the hidden camera.
So. One shot in the ass later, which did indeed burn thank you very much, I was again leafing through aged magazines waiting for the doctor to return. Casually grabbing a Kleenex from the box, I gave my long-suffering nose a good hard blow and was rewarded with a sudden nosebleed. Having had one earlier in the day this was not a huge surprise, and a hopped quickly over to the shiny white sink in the corner to ensure that I did not make a mess. Naturally this is when the doctor returned, while I was leaning over said sink with a wad of bloody tissues. She grabbed a swab with something on it that would help seal off the bleed, and had me sit up on the table. Apparently this particular nose bleed had a pinata-like quality, as the swab did not stop it so much as give it a joyous new hole through with to energetically flow. And flow it did.
Once again standing over the now less-than-shiny sink, using up Kleenex at a very high rate of speed. I am now being attended by both the doctor, who is using peroxide to sponge blood off of my clothes, and Cookie who has returned with another plunger-style device. Not a syringe this time, but a suspiciously familiar looking purple plastic gizmo that she is aiming for my right nostril. While the two of them explain there there is such a thing as a nasal tampon, and that the office used to have them, really they are much more expensive than the regular kind and it’s just the same thing really. At this point I can only hope that wherever the hidden camera is, it’s getting my good side. Or at least the most flattering shot of the tampon sticking out of my nose.
In a moment of pity for the last shreds of my dignity, Cookie replaces the tampon with a new one that has been mercifully shorn of its bottom two-thirds. Since I still have to visit the pharmacy on the way home, perhaps cotton strings are not the way to convince a pharmacist that I am a person who can be trusted with drugs. The examination and diagnosis complete (it turns out I have a sinus infection and an ear infection) I scrape together my self-possession and head to checkout, remembering that I need to give them money in return for this experience. I have in my hand a receipt, a note for work, and an order for a for a head xray.
Somehow I think I will hold off on getting my head examined until it is tampon-free.