November 30, 2011

Doctor Earnest, Body Pictionary and the Sparkle Salvo

A week ago today, merely 3 days after my surgery, I hobbled off to see my new primary care physician.  I would have simply rescheduled given the circumstances, but I didn't have much choice since I'd completely run out of my blood pressure meds the day before.  The hubs had to stay home from work to drive me to the doctor's because I still wasn't allowed to drive myself, what with the being all hopped up on drugs and everything.  Every bump was torturous, particularly when I wasn't given enough warning to brace my ouchy stomach against the impact.  It's a little pathetic that it took me 16 months to find a doctor down here that was both accepting new patients and my insurance, but there you go.

Mercifully the waiting room was not busy, so I only sat 5-10 minutes--just long enough to see who won Dancing With the Stars (like the war hero was ever NOT going to win)--before heading back to run down my stats and meds with the nurse, after which I was taken to an examining room and told to sit on the table.  Yo, Nursie--that's a little easier said than done just at the moment.  I stood there contemplating the little step and the distance to hoist my patootie up onto the seat, then climbed up on the step.  At this point I was at a bit of a loss, so I ended up turning in circles two or three times like a dog before finally figuring out how to scootch onto the seat with as little pain as possible.  Mission mostly accomplished.

"Come here and I will taunt you a second time..."

Having successfully (more or less) navigated the examining table, I quickly became bored, having foolishly forgotten to bring a book.  I looked all around the room, just like I always do, observing all the little jars and contraptions on the counter and all the pictures hung in the room, as well as the inevitable ugly wallpaper.  If I'd been less physically compromised, there is every possibility that I would have snooped in the drawers as well, being the curious sort of person that I am.  Don't worry, though.  I don't look in your medicine cabinets or bathroom drawers (most of the time, anyway).  So there I sat, bored and distracted, till I noticed one of the fake "sparkles" on my t-shirt had fallen on the floor.  And, just so you know, it was that shirt--the one that got me busted by TSA and resulted in a groping free-for-all, minus dinner first.  I brushed my hand against the shirt and a couple more rhinestones popped off.  I probably should have just quit at this point, but of course I didn't.  After all, it was something new to do.  Before I knew it, I'd spent a good 10 minutes sitting on that table, flinging cheap bits of glass and plastic all over the room.  Clearly months of laundering had loosened the sparkles because I could get them off both by brushing my hands firmly over them and by alternately slackening my shirt then suddenly pulling it taut so that the sparkles shot across the room like they'd been ejected from a Gatling gun.  The more that shot off, the more I wanted to shoot off.  I started aiming for things--the chair, the trashcan, the window...I'm pretty sure I even heard a ping in the sink once.  By the time I was done, easily half the little black and silver sparkles left on my shirt lay scattered across the floor and step.  Clearly I cannot be left unsupervised for any length of time.

When I heard rustling in the corridor outside my door, I rapidly wiped the sparkle remains from my pants and shirt and the table and tried to sit looking as innocent as possible in spite of the refuse peppering the examining room floor.  The new doctor came in and got right to business.  Let's call her Dr. Earnest, because while she seemed thorough and efficient enough, her whole demeanor screamed bland concern and excruciating earnestness.  Frankly, I was slightly put off, being the smartass that I am.  I'm pretty sure that Dr. Earnest's sense of humor (if she even has one) would have floundered were I to start dropping F-bombs like I did with the Minor Med and ER doctors.  In that respect, at least, I preferred the F**K doctors.  Of course, I've also now just made them sound like experts in fornication.  Whatever.  They're guys.  They'd probably like that.

Speaking of doctors with whom I'd like to f***...

Dr. Earnest looked over my forms, intrigued that I'd just had an appendectomy 3 days before.  I really wanted to say it was her own damn fault, considering her office had refused to see me on the Friday before my surgery, but it would have been too much like kicking an overly forlorn puppy.  So I didn't.  Naturally she wanted to check out Dr. "Don't Call Me" Shirley's handiwork, so she had me lie back on the table.  She gently and carefully inspected my abdomen, requesting permission to peel up the fresh bandage I'd put on the day before after my shower.  She continued to stand there looking concerned and exceptionally earnest, then said she was worried about the big red spot on my stomach below my navel.  I looked down.  Red?  Please--it was pink at best.  I told her I'd just assumed it was razor burn from the nurses shaving off my strip of belly hair, adding that my skin tended to be extremely sensitive; for example, the adhesive from my C-Section dressings caused an allergic reaction, leaving stippled red marks all over my stomach.  She replied that she had noticed a reaction to the bandage she'd just peeled off, but was still earnestly concerned about it and said that while they were very good at "bagging the appendix on the way out" (Ewww--so didn't need to hear that) to make sure it didn't contaminate anything, sometimes it could still cause infections.  I must have made a face at this point because she immediately put her hand up and rushed to assure me that she didn't think I had any infection INSIDE, but maybe just on the skin outside.  She seemed very put out that I hadn't been sent home with antibiotics.  I still wasn't particularly fussed about the pink skin; heck, I still had a big red circle on the side of my boob from where they'd put the EKG patch.  Even today you can still see the outline where it damaged my skin.  Nothing like having an extra areola lying around.  Clearly she wasn't inclined to let it go, though, what with all her tutting and fretting.  Then she asked if she could draw on me.  Um, what?  "Okay, suuuuuure."  She took her ballpoint pen and put a line around my pink spot, telling me that I should watch to make sure it didn't go past that line, and that if it did, I should immediately contact them to have a prescription for antibiotics called in.  She also told me that if it washed off in the shower, I should redraw it.  Great.  First the extra areola, now this.  I'm starting to look like people have played Pictionary on me.  Reminds me of when I used to let my daughter draw all over my legs with her gel pens.

"Oh, Mommy...ready or not, here I come!"

Dr. Earnest told me to go ahead and sit up and then stared stupidly at me lying there till I told her it just wasn't gonna happen without her help, considering my ab muscles had recently been sliced and diced.  She dutifully (if confusedly) helped me up then gave me prescriptions for my meds, both a 30-day one which I could immediately refill since I was out, as well as a 90-day one so I could finally use the mail-order pharmacy on our insurance.  Sweet.  Then I went home and spent the next three days being paranoid over whether my pink spot was spreading past the lines or not, ignoring the fact that I was usually looking after I'd just been holding my stomach down while I coughed or sneezed, thus making it redder.  In the meantime, my stomach kept itching, so I finally took the Band-Aids off.  The big one I'd had around my belly button had rippled on my skin like Band-Aids do, leaving a blister in each ripple pocket.  Great.  I peeled off all the Band-aids, cleaned everything, put on antibiotic cream, then replaced the big Band-Aids with smaller, "non-stick" ones.  I still have scabs leftover from those stupid blisters.  Two days later, my stomach was once again itching incessantly and burning (and not just because they had to shave me); I thought that if I didn't get the big bandage off immediately I was going to scream.  I ran to the bathroom, peeled it off, and instead of blisters it had rubbed my skin so raw this time that some of the skin came off with the bandage.  Awesome.  Now the assorted red marks from my various dressings comprise more surface damage than the lappy appy itself does.  I seriously need to get myself some of those clear, waterproof dressings that they use in the hospital.  Those didn't damage me at all.  Needless to say, I loaded up on antibiotic cream once again and stopped wearing bandages altogether.

Comfort-Flex my ass.

Here I am, a week later, mostly recovered from my surgery and doctor visit.  Scabs are starting to fall off, I can once again lie on my stomach, and I'm only hopped up on blood pressure meds (I stopped the Lortab a week ago) and Allegra.  You'll also be relieved to know that the pink patch faded back into a normal skin tone, having never crossed the line.  I finally got to drive yesterday and even made it through my penultimate chorale rehearsal before our concert next week.  The only thing I still struggle with is a cough and dry throat courtesy of Dr. Jolly ("It will only be sore one day" my ass) and whatever germs I inhaled in the hospital.  So much for the zealous protection of my voice and throat during my cold 3 weeks ago...still, it could be worse.  It could have gone to bronchitis, but hasn't yet.  At least if it does I know that Dr. Earnest will be happy to give me all the antibiotics I want.  Every day I move a little more freely and hurt a little less, though I still largely have the stamina of a gnat.  But it's coming along.  It really has been quite the bizarre year for me, medically speaking, and I fervently hope there are no repeats of it next year.   On the plus side, I can only get appendicitis once.  Done.


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