You can handle this one of two ways...

I find that when I am in a situation that is highly stressful, I try hard to be overly cheerful, polite and accommodating.

Yesterday after my second training session, my throat started really hurting on the left side, and a quick check with my compact showed a few blistery looking things on the tonsil. This was around 3. By the time I got home, my left tonsil looked and felt like this:

Ok – not exactly, but that’s the least gross way I can describe it.

Since my PCP (that’s Primary Care Physician for those of you who don’t speak Blue Cross Blue Shield) has walk-in hours til 8 during the week, I hopped in the car and drove down.

After the receptionist finished telling me how she “jewed down” the guy who sold her a new car, the nurse looked, took a strep culture, and we waited. When the PA came in, she said it didn’t look like strep – it looked like a peri-tonisillar abscess and that I should pop in over at Vanderbilt and get that bad boy lanced. Oh boy! The ER!

But you know me – my voice is my moneymaker, so I got in the car and drove. I spent about 4 hours chilling in the waiting room – which was enough to decide that I am not a fan. I got to go back around midnight, where I got a gown, a room, a bed, and Sex and the City on the TV. It was on mute, but since I’d seen that episode before, I was more or less able to follow the hijinks. Oh Samantha, you're such a whore!

After meeting with the resident and attending, they called in the ENT Resident on call. He looked like Doogie Howser (only his hair was brown). Now, I’m not promoting ageism, I’m just saying, this was a young guy. But as I age, I’m going to have to get used to things like this. Anyway – he took a look at this gross mass and said he wasn’t impressed, he didn’t think it was an abscess, and he didn’t think there was anything to lance. Awesome. But to be sure, he was going to do a CT scan, and if it came up clean, I’d get a metric fuckton of hardcore antibiotics and something for pain. I perked up a little when I heard that last bit.

So, they take me back to CT. And ask where my IV is. What IV? Oh, well, they ordered a dye-contrast. I get wheeled back to my room where it takes a paramedic and a nurse two attempts– they think they get a good vein. I get wheeled back to CT. The tech says my vein is for shit. They bring in a new nurse. She fails and bails – they bring in the doctor and the paramedic from my first attempt. Nothing. They bring in another nurse, and then another – while all this is going on, Doogie is massaging my hand trying to coax a vein. I explain to each subsequent vein getter that I normally have great veins, that I’m dehydrated, and that I donate at the Red Cross.

Finally it’s Teresa, who, with the help of Doogie’s loving caresses, hits paydirt in the back of my right hand. They shove me full of dye, scan me as though I were a Manager’s Special pot roast, and determine that yes, my tonsil is inflamed, but there’s no abscess. I get a scrip for Augmentin (ugh), Magic Mouthwash (huh?), and I pay the nice people and go home. I arrive at the house at 3AM.

During all of this, I was pleasant, polite and downright cheerful. Had I not been in a gown, you would not have known I was there for treatment. That’s all on the outside. On the inside I’m thinking things like:

- Did you really just say “jewed down”? Really? Seriously? We’re done here.
- Why am I having to wait so long?
- Can you please get me away from all these sick people?
- No, I don’t want a chaplain to come visit me. Ever.
- What’s the deal with entire families coming in and chilling with the patient – is there nowhere better to wait?
- Why doesn’t the lady who keeps getting called on the community phone just sit next to the fucking phone so that everyone doesn’t have to play secretary for her?
- Why is it so cold in here?
- Dr. Bryczynsky? Can I buy vowel? An A, please.
- Would you just pick a fucking vein and hit it please?
- It is cold in here and yes, I would love a blanket.
- And a Sprite.
- If I tell you my pain level is at an 8, what will you give me?
- Yes, it was a long fucking wait and the people out there were scary.
- Seriously, can you quit sticking me?
- Look, I don’t give a shit how the CT Scan works, I want to go home.
- Why do all of the nurses smell like cigarette smoke – don’t they know better?
- I love how excited you are about explaining osmosis to me, but I checked out of this conversation 5 minutes ago.
- FUCK – you’re hurting me! Find someone who can get an IV started and leave me alone.
- Seriously, Doogie – does your mother know you’re out this late?
- Yeah, I’m dehydrated – that’s what happens when you don’t eat or drink for 12 hours.
- You know, the people at the Red Cross have way less training than you and they hit the vein every time.
- Who do I have to fuck to get some pain meds?
- Wow, these are some interesting bruises.
- Why yes, I do seem to be bleeding a little – that’s what happens when you use me as a voodoo doll.
- Thanks for fucking up my bill – I’ll be happy to call BCBS to straighten it out.

But instead, I called everyone sir, or ma’am, or Dr. or whatever. I made jokes about my veins being fried from years of heroin use. I told everyone the wait wasn’t too bad, that I felt fine, and that they weren’t hurting me. I refused offers of blankets, I smiled and nodded and waved and was witty and charming. I even made the attending laugh. He apologized that I had to wait in the “Seething Cauldron of Humanity” – and I replied, “Well, if you ever want to feel thin and pretty, come to the ER.” He laughed and told me he was going to quote me on that. See, I was the highlight of his long night!

And I’m not bitter that I handled it that way. I honestly would rather engage people than put up a wall. I mean, yeah – I was scared, tired, hurting and frustrated, but I was also grateful that these people were helping me. And if I’m nice to them, they’ll be nice back. Works every time.

I think that’s why I do so well with customers. I need to write a book.

Anyway – I got about 2 hours of sleep, my throat is still hurting (and gross) and I haven’t had time to fill my scrips – won’t until the end of the day.

But as I told Doug, the male nurse who used to work in Neuro ICU – I’m still better than 99% of the people he’d have under his care last night. He agreed. He also said that unlike me, some people he'd seen that night were never going home. What a buzzkill, Doug.

Plus, as I told Doogie – this is totally going in my blog.

So, Dr. Mantle, age 32 (though you look 27), here’s to you – thanks for having me last night – and don’t worry about the needle sticks. I deal with pricks every day.

Hahaha. Yeah, we’re entering the punchy phase of things now.


PS -I cyberstalked and found a picture of my doctor.

Tell me that he doesn't look like he's 19:


Unknown said…
Every post and I love you more. I do hope you are feeling better - we'll talk.
sawaya said…
Allison! I want to go to your doctor!!