the doctor said I over-taxed my system. Just worked a few late nights/early mornings plus anxiety and a travel sprint. That late night, gin sodden, drag queen bingo fundraiser with my friends who i stayed with in DC did not help, i am sure.
the drag queens did like my boobs and trailer trash aesthetic though. And the arepas were amazing.
despite having health insurance— for which I thank my lucky Sagittarian stars (a nod now to the surprising U.S. Supreme Court decision to up-hold the constitutionality of Obamacare)— I have not established a regular provider in New York City. I had a great doctor in DC; adored her – this old JD turned MD with long dreads. NYC feels daunting to find such smart, non-judgmental care; there are so many doctors that there are so proportionately many bad ones. Feels like a needle in a haystack, with a long que at that. Plus I am skittish about the medical system at best. So I fall back to my wayward working class Midwestern ways and rely on the ER and critical care units.
i was at the ER from just after 6 am until noon. I don’t mind the waiting; like i don’t mind long stretches of travel, being between places. Even the pain i was in was a weird sort of meditation. When they sent me from the waiting room to a semi-curtained off bed in the care center with double halls, i sat cross-legged on it, shoes off, first leaning forward with my elbows tucked in my ankles, my head in my hands over my green bag bulging with magazines i did not read. Then i would sit up, straightening my spine and rocking side to side, gently tilting my neck, which, as it turns out, was horribly inflamed. A throat infection, but – forgive a bit of disgusting detail here – the infection was forming an abscess that there was initial concern would need to be drained with a needle. The early morning shift doctor, an Indian man with thick wavy hair, optimistically added that it might recede with medication and not need puncturing. The second shift doctor, after 8 am, would check after the shot of steroids.
he walked briskly to the next bed, loudly addressing the elderly man who had put god-knows-what in his ear and now was having troubles with it. He also got a mostly gentle lecture about reserving ambulance rides for people needing actually urgent care, with a run down on heart attacks and bleed outs. i considered the needle potentially for y mouth and cried quietly, but generated a lot of snot, wiping it on the sleeve of my sweater. Eventually caught a nurse to ask for Kleenex. Rocked and blew my nose. Texted my sister-femme-sister who immediately rang, offering to come; i was content to have her on text and felt better.
a burnt out skinny black man wanders by and asked to use my phone; some young men in scrubs swiftly led him to the central main desk phone. I did not have time to say a word. Earlier, a man had been trying to call a friend there with a doctor repeatedly mis-dialing the number. A power struggle: asking what kind of Doctors can be here who cannot even dial a number, the man refusing to let them stitch him up until he had his one call; like a police station. I couldn’t see. I wondered how badly he was bleeding.
listen to the gravely cry of the old woman across from me:
Nurse! Doctor! You need to come here. I am in a lot of pain. I am in a lot of pain here. Do they think I am joking?
every three minutes, the coarse refrain of her pain. Nurses fresh to shift stop in to talk with her then check with the main desk, where staffers repeatedly report she has already had her medication and would be going back to the nursing home soon. A crisp little Asian nurse patiently explains this to her over and over, trying to coax her to wait for the meds to kick in.
the second shift medical assistant for my bed number came on, an African man, who was confused by but relenting on my refusal to put on a hospital gown. I was in yoga pants and a skirt, a t-shirt and a sweater; and I was freezing. He offered me food I just couldn’t eat.
dutifully peed in a cup to prove I had no pregnancy to harm with a shot of steroids and whatever pain meds were coming soon.
the second shift doctor came on – a solid stepping dyke looking woman with salt and pepper hair in navy scrubs. I liked her face and kind direct pragmatism. She was going through the standard questions, and I was explaining, catching her up on what the prior doc said, but I guess being weird- because she laughed. Then said, “Oh, I am sorry for laughing, but you are being really cute!” Her eyes crinkled.
i was glad to make her laugh; tough gig, working the ER.
cultured my throat (the least fun you’ll have with me). Said, “You must be in a lot of pain. I know you cannot see it, but I can see it, and you must be in a lot of pain.” I fell asleep. Sweated through all my clothes.
the pain has subsided to a mere soreness when I swallow, and I am so so so grateful. Meds and home care in place, I am among my plants now. Made strawberry Jell-O that solidified creepily, delightfully in the fridge: strawberry layer with a layer of peach Cool Whip suspension.
As much a part of my childhood as ERs.
P.S. Decided radical muffins cannot live on cake alone. Will keep cake posts numbered but need to share some other things.