Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shingle me tivers!

I get up finally when The Cat gives up on purring and head bonking and bites the top of my head to wake me up. No coffee. Fasting-since-midnight tests upcoming. I drink three glasses of water, shower, scoop the litter box, feed The Cat, make the bed and get dressed without actually being fully conscious. Weedy picks me up at eight a.m.

Blood tests. Routine yearly blood tests that I regularly go for once every five or six years when the doctor suddenly says, "How long has it been since...?" Take a number. Wait. Maintain dull caffeine-deprived stupor. Try not to look at other number-clutching victims. When number is called, proceed to stall four. Sit down, hold out arm and be recognized by staff vampire who knows me from another lifetime and needs to list all common acquaintances of our youth and ask if I've seen them. Stupor is holding perfectly. Lucky I know my own name. Finally, we reach the grand finale and I pee in a jar.

Then we are directed to the third floor by a nice man who clearly doesn't know if that is where you drink barium. By a stroke of luck, we arrive in the right unit. A sign says "Barium enema, Barium swallows, Upper GI" - very warm and homey. I am "Upper GI" and thanking the gods for it when I consider the alternatives. I take a number. I turn to Weedy and say, "It's your fault I can't read a magazine."
"That's right. Germs." she says without any hint of remorse or apology.

Finally they call my name and we go to waiting room three of the morning and I am issued the standard cotton-tie raglets. Everyone has barium to drink but me, I am wearing only large dust cloths in unflattering colors and my sandals and I consider complaining about the service. Then I look at the faces of the people drinking barium and reconsider. A half hour after my appointment time has come and gone, I am ushered into a room with a slab and given my very own cup of barium. I don't think it tastes half bad and swallow as ordered while a machine studies my inner workings.

By noon, Weedy and I make it to food. We inhale eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes and I steal an extra piece of complimentary fudge for her as we leave.

On to the doctor. Who looks at the big nasty sore red patches blooming on my chest, shoulder and back and decides that I have Shingles. He prescribes large dark blue pills and assures me that they should help. Should? Should? I am running horror stories about people with shingles getting addicted to pain killers and being unable to function for six months. Should??? No way. I am not taking "should" for an answer. This virus WILL die and it will damn well do it fast.

I phone to inform the new boyfriend of my pox-ridden condition. And add, cheerfully, in a later email, "Well, at least it isn't an STD!" I know how to charm a man, by god.

Inside my head, however, a small high-pitched voice is whining, "Why meeeee?!"

And of course, you all know the answer to that one, don't you? Why not me?