Thankful It’s Not Yesterday

Posted: November 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Doctors, Friends and Strangers, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Preschool, Sisters, Travel | No Comments »

If only days were like Scrabble tiles. I’d like to trade a few in for new ones.

If Scrabble rules applied to life I’d definitely toss yesterday back in the bag. And probably the day before that too.

Because on Monday I found out an old friend came back to see me. My ulcer. For realz.

I know it seems like ulcers are something aging down-on-their-luck alcoholic cigar-smoking men get. And though I aspire to such a profile, I currently don’t quite fit it.

Yet, I’ve had an ulcer before. In college, oddly. I was living in Paris at the time, and I remember having episodes of stomach pain that were so intense I’d be walking down the street and have to lean against a building to stay upright.

I was a not-really-starving student. The program I was studying with was fairly rigorous academically. So there was some stress there. And when I wasn’t studying I was acting like an American college co-ed in Par-ee. Which meant going out with my trash-talkin’ American compadres to decidedly un-French bars (our fave was called The Front Page) and drinking decidedly un-French booze (namely, tequila).

Let’s just say, conversing with a gastroenterologist in French will really take your language skills to the next level. Of course, I’ve forgotten them all now, but I added a nice group of vocab words like ‘stomach lining,’ ‘gastric acid,’ and ‘cyclooxygenase’ to my repertoire.

Okay, so I really can’t even say that last one in English. But it’d rock if I could.

When I got back to the States, my parents sent me to what they considered “a real doctor” (i.e. an American). The guy asked me some questions, ordered some tests, and handed my mother a business card for a psychiatrist. The thinking being that my stomach was out of whack because I had my head screwed on wrong.

But really, I was my same sassy happy-go-lucky self back then. I’d come clean if there was reason to, but I think it was the un-holy trinity of school stress, tequila (which was a cheap way to tie one on), and an occasional cigarette (which was a cheap way to look cool) that were the real culprits.

In fact, the second doc my mother ushered me to—insulted by the first’s implications about my mental health—described my malady in simple terms. “What you’ve got,” he said to me, laying it on the line “is a weak gut.”

My mother relayed this line to my sisters, who found it uproarious. Judy still sometimes points her finger my way and asks, “You know what you’ve got? A weak gut!” then howls with laughter.

The thing is, these days, I can’t for the life of me figure out what brought this hell-belly back. I ain’t stressed out, I swear. And I only really smoke cigars on Tuesday nights, when I pour myself a tall glass of rye and settle down in front of The Housewives of Atlanta.

Jes’ kidding.

Yesterday started with a sunrise trip to a lab for blood work. I’d spent the day before home with a soupy-coughed Paigey, so yesterday I REALLY needed to make progress at my freelance gig. So I arrived at the lab just after it opened at 7:30. And waited. And then found out that one of the tests I needed to do they didn’t have at that lab. So I needed to go somewhere else.

But first I consented to having my blood taken. Because it seemed that it would legitimize my wait. And because the phlebotomist didn’t have a large tattoo across his forehead reading INCOMPETENT.

Which he really really should have.

He stabbed me with a needle, then muttered, “Well there WAS blood comin’ at first, but why’d it just stop?” To which I replied weakly, “Uh, I’m a fainter. I really can’t deal with the play-by-play.”

I’m truly too queasy to even recount the ensuing trauma, other than to say that he jabbed that needle around in my vein like he was trying to pick up a carnival toy with a metal claw. When I peeled off the gauze-and-tape bandage hours later, my elbow pit was streaked with purple and red bruises the likes of which’d make a heroine junkie gag.

Ah-ha! That’s why I’d been feeling like my forearm was going to detach and fall to the ground all day!

Post blood-taking hell, I zipped back home. Picked up Kate to bring her to kindergarten. Brought Paige to her school in a torrential downpour. Asked P’s teacher kindly, “Could she please not play outdoors today? She’s just getting over being sick.”

To which I was informed “ALL the children play outside no matter WHAT the weather is.”

So I looked down at Paigey, rain dripping from the visor of her yellow raincoat. She looked so small. I thought about us boarding a cross-country plane the next day, and just then she let out a loogy-ish cough.

I sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll take her with me then.”

Okay, so Paige in tow, I’m off to Lab #2. I get there, park, schlep bedraggled Paige through the rain-swept parking lot where she strides through every puddle. Elevetor to 3rd floor, find the suite number, wait for snide receptionist to look at me, and discover they don’t have the test I need either.


Repeat parking lot adventure at Lab #3. But they HAVE the test! In the waiting room Paige is actually adorable. She “reads” from a Beatrix Potter book for all the other test-needing waiters, and moves the book in an arc around her after every page so they can see the pictures.

I have a haircut in SF in 35 minutes. The nurse calls my name. I may actually not be late! But then I blow air into a bag, drink some Crystal-light-like stuff, and am told I have to wait 15 minutes to blow in another bag again.

Did I mention that I was also fasting for this test? By the time I careened out of Lab #3’s parking lot hell-bent for San Fran, it was nearly 11:00AM and Mama was HUN-gree.

I called Mark and told him, “Surprise! You get Paige!” After my haircut (priorities straight) I REALLY did need to go to the office and get some work done. So, like a hot potato, I foisted Paigey Waigey at Mark in his office parking lot and zipped off like roadrunner (my legs a circular blur) to the hair salon.

Settling in for my cut and color I thought, NOW. Now is when my day gets good.

Despite my lateness, I’d stopped at a café for a croissant because the alien that now lives in my stomach gets VERY cranky without food. (I can now imagine the sweet relief Sigourney felt when that thing finally busted out of her.) Finally, with the fasting behind me, I could take the first of my Weak Gut pills and let the healin’ begin.

Sad, isn’t it, when my idea of a good time is shoving ulcer meds in my mouth while waiting for someone to cover up my gray roots. I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes. Just for a sec.

Then I felt hands on my shoulders. I looked up to see Susan, my ever-faithful long-time hair guru, looking at me through the reflection in the mirror. I smiled.

“So,” she said with a big exhale. “This will be the last time I do your hair. I’m moving to LA!”

I closed my eyes again. Maybe I should just wait until tomorrow for my day to get better.

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