The last time we went to Utah to visit my brother-in-law and charming family, I ended up having an anxiety attack over a sore throat that, during the flight, morphed into the Throat of Many Horrors, and we drove to an urgent care clinic while I croaked and gasped only to be told there was nothing terribly wrong, just a little cold, ha ha, whoops. So I really wanted to get this ear problem checked out before I got to Utah and embarrassed myself all over again. Not to mention, ear problems plus plane equals my eardrums exploding all over the other screaming passengers.
I don't have a doctor in the neighborhood because I've been so astonishingly healthy, I didn't really need one, unless it was to visit the waiting room and laugh at all the sick people. But thanks to the Internet I found a doctor within a block of my home--a physician whose Yelp reviews were positive and did not include the terms "murderer" or "unsanitary prodding." I called, they asked if I could come in a half-hour, and before they could hang up the phone I was there.
Highlights of my appointments are as follows:
1. The look of undisguised horror on the receptionist's face when I told her the amount of my deductible. I always feel like I'm showing someone my war wound, when I tell them how much I have to pay out of pocket. I almost told her our monthly fee, but I was afraid it would kill her. She seemed delicate.
2. The doctor asking me about my family history of cancer, which I had filled out on the form. "What kind of cancer?" he asked, and I said, "Uh, colon-rectal?" He asked, "Who had colon cancer?" My maternal grandmother, I told him. Then he said, "And who had rectal cancer?" and I realized "colon-rectal cancer" wasn't one thing, but instead of saying that I said, "Same grandmother," and he looked at me and instead of explaining myself I let out a loud, barking laugh. And he just continued to look at me.
3. The nurse repeatedly entered the room to get supplies and every time she did, the doctor would swivel around to glare at her, and she would stop and glare right back at him, and they would be frozen like that for at least two or three seconds, the two of them staring each other down, and each time I wondered if I should applaud. Or eat popcorn! It was exciting.
4. After the doctor was done investigating my ear canals, he gazed into my eyes and whispered, "We will treat you." I felt like I was supposed to fall into his arms out of sheer relief. Finally! Someone dared to get close enough to me to treat my horrible plague!
When I returned home, there was a message from the doctor, apologizing for misspelling my name on the prescription slip. Then there was another message from him on my cell phone. I checked the prescription, and I swear to you, I think he thought my name was "Alice Bundles." I pictured him with his wife that night, discussing his day. "I saw the oddest patient today. A Miss Bundles. She laughed openly about her grandmother's horrific double cancer and then failed to applaud our mini-soap opera, 'When the Door Opens.' Curious."
THEN (you're going to get my entire afternoon, so you sit back and you enjoy it) I walked to the drugstore by Henry's school so I could wait around for the prescription and eventually pick him up. It's a longish walk, since we've moved, but it's pleasant. WHEN IT IS NOT 135 DEGREES OUT. (The humidity makes it feel like 543.) Also, because of the appointment, I had failed to eat any real kind of lunch. Mama needs her food, lest she get shaky. I normally eat every three hours, like clockwork, and if I don't I kind of fall apart. And yet, instead of eating while I waited for the prescription like a sane person, I went to the bookstore like a health-hating lunatic. Which is all to say that by the time I picked up Henry, I was trembling and sweaty and even though I had torn into the antibiotic pack right there in the drugstore, my ear infection was not yet healed.
Because we're heading to Utah tomorrow, today was Henry's last day of school. I said I would take him out for a treat, and while I wanted to go to the sit-down place, where a person can sit down and there is air conditioning, he begged to go to this other little coffee shop, where there's nowhere to sit and the entire place fills with post-school children and their parents and you pretty much want to die in there. But I was so addled and sweaty, I said okay, and we headed in.
Aaand then I got into an altercation with the guy behind the counter. I won't go into the boring details, but when a person asks for iced coffee and you give her a hot coffee and she politely tells you she asked for iced, even if you think she's wrong, just give her the damn iced coffee. Especially when it's 90,000 degrees outside, and no one in their right mind would ask for hot coffee.
At any rate, I was already nearing unconsciousness and this guy was so unnecessarily mean and Henry wanted his treat and I just wanted to buy it and get out of there and I had to get the attention of another guy because the first one had refused to help me and had, in fact, taken Henry's treat off the counter and put it back in the display, NO TREAT FOR YOU. And while I tried to get this other guy's attention, I totally lost it. I was a crying, shaking mess. I am sure the other people in there thought I had lost my mind. She really wants her snack, they thought. That Alice Bundles. She sure does like cupcakes.
It all worked out, in the end. Henry got his cupcake, and we got out of there. Scott met us on the street because by then I was really worried I might pass out (don't ask me why I didn't stop for food--my mind was gone). We made it home. And look! At least I had a story to tell you.