Monthly Archives: July 2008

As If The First Time Wasn’t Fun Enough…

I guess there are worse things, but I’m going to complain anyway.  Just.Because.I.Can.

I had my annual woman checkup last month you see.  And the gynecologist, she said, “We mail out letters now with the results of your pap smear.  If you haven’t received a letter from us in three weeks time, then give us a call.”

The three weeks?  It went by.  Without a letter from the doctor’s office. 

I was actually sitting at the computer thinking to myself, “Should I give them just one more day or should I call the doctor’s office now,” when the phone rang.  It was kind of like telepathy, only I messed the back end of it up, because while it was the doctor’s office calling, it wasn’t with news I wanted to hear.

“Hi.  Doctor Do-Over asked me to call.  Your pap smear results were unsatisfactory.  That means there were not enough cells for the lab to do a complete screening.  Doctor Do-Over would like you to come back in for another pap smear.” Can you believe my luck here?  Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?  I mean, the first one was just so much fun.  And now I get to do it again? Woo Hoo! Boo Hoo.

So now I have to schedule an appointment, take time off from work, drive an hour to the doctor’s office, strip from the waist down, lie down with my feet in stirrups, and let Doctor Do-Over scrape away at my cervix a second time.  I suppose I’ll have to do that, but I’m not all that confident she’ll do any better of a job this time than she did the last time.  And I sure as hell don’t plan to give her a third opportunity. I know they say the third time’s the charm, but come on.  

So I’m thinking, can’t I just do this myself?  How hard can it be? What do I need, really?  An old popsicle stick?  Too short you think?  We’ve got chopsticks around this place somewhere.  I could take a sample myself and mail it to the lab from here.  The great thing is, I’m NOT a doctor.  Without stirrups and a that shoehorn thing they pry you open with, I’m sure I’d scrape the hell out of my cervix, possibly remove the thing in its entirety, thereby ensuring the lab would have more than enough cells to get a satisfactory result this time around. I could save myself a lot of money on gas too!

At my last appointment, Doctor Do-Over was kind enough to inform me that since I recently turned 40, I’ve earned the pleasure of receiving annual mammograms.  She even filled out an order for me to go get one. What a birthday present! 

I bet your doctors aren’t this skilled or this much fun.  I bet they don’t give you gifts for your birthday, either.  So let me know if you want Doctor Do-Over’s number. If you’re planning a pick-up game of kick ball, I hear she’s the one you want on your team…



Filed under birthdays, do-overs, doctors, life

Top Ten Reasons I Failed to Feed the Parking Meter











Okay, fine.  I don’t have ten reasons. 

And, it appears, I don’t have ANY reasons at all for failing to pay the parking meter.

The truth is, I plain forgot.  I was going to get my hair cut.  I parked my car.  I got out of my car, and walked away.  No, I don’t know what I was thinking. I may have lost my head.  Perhaps I left it in the back seat of the car? If it weren’t for the fact that nobody looked or acted in anyway alarmed when I entered the hair salon, I might have bought that excuse myself.  As it was, not one single person screamed “Oh. My. God!  That woman is missing her head! You can’t cut hair on a headless woman!”

It was only AFTER I got my hair cut (and highlighted!), as I was walking back toward my car that I thought about the meter at all. “Hmmm… I wonder how much time I’ve got left on the parking meter?”

And that’s when it hit me.  I didn’t have ANY time left on the meter, because I hadn’t bought any time.

I started to walk faster, hoping to get a glimpse of my windshield, hoping against hope that it would be clear, that I wouldn’t have received a parking ticket.  But luck was not on my side.

The cost of a good hair cut and highlights?  Priceless.

The cost of forgetting to feed the parking meter? $23.00 dollars my friends. $23.00.


Filed under life

The Heart Attack That Wasn’t

Listen up because I’m only going to tell this story once.  Miss something, and you’re on your own for finding out the details.

My son woke me up at 4:30 in the morning last Saturday because he needed a Kleenex.  He said he had a runny nose.  Or maybe he said he had a bloody nose.  As it was not yet the crack of dawn, and technically, in my book, it was still the middle of the damn night, I didn’t catch what he said.  I asked him if his nose was runny or bloody.  The room was dark.  He said he didn’t know.  And that uncertainty motivated me to move because if it was bloody, then it was probably dripping all over my carpet.  But as it turns out, his nose was merely runny.

My husband got up to help find the Kleenex so I went back to bed and realized with some alarm that my chest hurt.  A lot.  And not only that, my left shoulder blade hurt and the pain went up into my neck.  I asked my husband to rub my shoulder but as my brain started to wake up to the fact that his shoulder massage wasn’t helping, I also realized that this trifecta of pain was similar to something I had once read describing the symptoms of a heart attack. And then?  I felt sick.

When my husband asked if I wanted to go to the hospital I was sufficiently scared enough, and was in enough pain to squeak, “Yeah, that might be a good idea.”

And THAT is how I ended up at the hospital.  Where, if anyone would have read my file, they would know all of that.  And they wouldn’t have had to ask me over and over and over again, “What happened?” 

But, apparently, the doctors and nurses at my local hospital can’t read.  Or don’t bother to.

Because seriously?  I had to repeat that story over a dozen times over a span of 24 hours, and I got mighty sick of it.

Here’s some other stuff that should be my medical file should anyone care to read it: the hospital ran an EKG and gave me three yummy little orange baby aspirin in the ER.  The baby aspirin tasted like candy.  I’d like another handful please.

While I was hanging out in the ER, they did a chest x-ray.  And then later, a chest CT scan, with contrast.

The I.V. port?  Why yes, they gave me one. They put it right in the crook of my arm, the part that bends.  My right arm.  And I’m right handed.  So I bend that arm A LOT.  But when the nurse asked me where a good vein was, I thought she meant for taking blood, not for inserting a semi permanent needle so that it could jab deeper and deeper and deeper into my vein each time I moved.  Ouch! Tell me, what kind of person does that, places an IV in the crook of an arm?  Oh wait, I know.  Her name was Kim.

Nitroglycerin?  Why yes, they gave me three of those little pills in the ER.  But no, they didn’t help the pain at all.

Toradal? Yep, that stuff was good.  The pain went away. That’s when I wanted to go home.

Except I couldn’t.  My symptoms, you see, were “concerning” enough that the ER doctor decided to admit me for additional tests.  Tests that for whatever reason, couldn’t be done until the next day, which meant I got to stay overnight.

And let me tell you, the hospital?  It ain’t the Hilton.

For one thing, the staff at a hotel, whether a Hilton or a Motel 6, doesn’t come in every four hours to take your temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.  They don’t hook you up to heart monitors and expect you to sleep that way.  And they sure as hell don’t wake you up in the middle of the night to draw more blood.  I understand that some hotels have bed bugs for that.  But I think my hospital bed had those too.  Because how else do you explain the bites I found on my legs after a restless sleep? Vampires?  As far as know, they go for your neck.

Perhaps you have been wondering what the menu is in a cardiac ward? Well, I’ll tell you, I don’t think the American Heart Association would approve.  Breakfast was an egg and cheese omelet with FRIED potatoes. I’m not even kidding.

Lunch was my choice: a turkey sandwich on whole wheat or a Sloppy Joe of indeterminate meat origin.  I chose the turkey. It arrived with a bowl of something that I might have identified as soup, had it not been for the unnatural shade of orange. I blinked at it, but I didn’t taste it. The coconut cake looked okay, but my taste buds knew, after one teeny bite, that it was not.  Cake on a cardiac ward?  I’m not kidding about that either.  Or about the brownie that came with dinner. All I can say about the fish sandwich that was supposed to pass as dinner is this: Mrs. Paul would be appalled. 

I had the pleasure (NOT!) of meeting one cardiac physician’s assistant, one doctor of unspecified type, and one cardiologist, one right after another.  Each followed the other into my room so quickly that I can only assume they were standing outside my door in a straight line and taking turns coming in to see me. Perhaps, on the way out of my room they tapped each other on the shoulder and said, “Tag!  You’re it!” But to that I say, get over your egos and enter a patient’s room all at once so the patient doesn’t have to have to repeat “what happened” three times in a row.  Or better yet, read their damn file.

The doctor who failed to mention his specialty mostly asked questions about my mental state.  Was I depressed? Or stressed?  Anxious? Under a lot of pressure? Because clearly, if the tests were coming back negative (which they were) then I must be prone to hysterics.  Or depression.  Or anxiety.  And okay, I won’t argue that with you.  I might be a wee bit stressed out at the moment.  But, the reason I went to the hospital in the first place was because of PAIN.  In my CHEST. Like that of a heart attack.  I was not an overly anxious woman who thought spending an entire day, and then the night, and then another day in the hospital being poked and prodded would be fun.  Because what?  I wanted the attention?  What I WANTED to do was go to Target. And the bookstore.  And to my Uncle’s 60th Birthday Party (Happy Birthday!  Sorry I missed your party.)

As time stood completely still on Saturday in the hospital, I tried to fathom the LINE that must have formed behind the treadmill that caused the hospital staff to delay  my stress test for over 24 hours. I wondered: was it as long as the lines were for people who went out to buy the new iPhones?  Was that why I had to sit in the hospital ALL.DAY.LONG and then ALL.NIGHT.LONG waiting for my turn?  Couldn’t I have done a few jumping jacks in my room to prove that I was more or less okay?  Obviously not. They took my bra when they hooked me up to all the heart monitors. And the way I’m endowed? One jumping jack would knock me out. WHAM! Punch to the face! 

I wasn’t sure if they expected me to walk or run on the treadmill, but I was sure I hadn’t packed a sports bra when we took off of the ER.  So I asked for duct tape but they wouldn’t give me any. In the end it was all okay.  I only had to walk, I didn’t knock myself out, and the stress test was uneventful. 

I wish I could say the same about the arguments I got into with my so called “nurse”.  Did you know that nurses don’t like it when you question them?  Especially when you question them about the bucket full of medicines they bring to your room and want you to take “just because.”  Well, I’m not like that.  If I am going to take something, I want to know what it is, and what it’s for, and why the doctors think I should take it.

So on the morning of my last day in the hospital, when it was clear that this wasn’t a cardiac event after all, and I was tired of being in the hospital for no good reason, and I wanted to go home already, I refused to take the nurse’s proffered “stool softener”.  Nor did I accept her handful of aspirin.  And I most adamantly refused her shot of “a mild blood thinner.” 

“Is there,” I asked, “anything at all in my test results that would indicate that the chest pain I had was in any way heart related?” 

“No,” she said.  “They just give this blood thinner to everyone who is on this ward.”

“Well, not to me,” I said.

And that one little refusal turned the mild mannered woman into Nurse Witch Ratched.  Witch Ratched delayed my release from the hospital by several hours while she pretended that she didn’t have my discharge papers. When I asked how much blood would spill if I pulled out my own I.V. (and I swear I would have if I could have found a single bandaid in that place) she finally admitted that she had my discharge papers with her after all. 

And then?  I came home and vowed that I would rather dig my own grave in the backyard than go back to that hospital ever again.  Of course, I realize that’s easy to say when you’re feeling good.


Filed under life

Stuck in a Pile of Baby Parts

I don’t know how it happens that I am always the one that gets caught, like a deer in the headlights, with the hard questions.  With questions like, “Mom, tell me everything you know about babies!”

My first thought, when Snags asked me this two nights ago was, as always: “Where the hell is your father now?”  Followed by, “Why don’t you go ask him?”  But once again, I held fast.  I sat there, rooted to the spot by my panic, and trying to stall.

“Um… what do you mean, exactly?” I asked Snags.  “I don’t know what you are asking.  Tell me specifically what it is that you want to know,” I added, desperately hoping for some clarification.  Because I know a lot about babies.  I know they pee and poop, cost a fortune in diapers, and cry and cry and cry and keep new parents awake ALL.NIGHT.LONG, but I had a feeling that wasn’t what Snags was asking.

I was right.  It wasn’t.

“Tell me,” he said, “like how babies are made and where they come from and all that.”


I don’t know if Snags heard the little part of my brain that up and died a screeching death as it wailed in horror, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not THAT!” I think the sound was so high pitched that only dogs could really hear it. When it happened, I didn’t hear anything myself, but I felt it, and a few seconds later I heard some dogs barking outside.  I went blind soon after that.

My eyesight slowly returned as I thought to myself, “No, this is not REALLY happening, is it?” But there sat Snags with an look of eager anticipation on his face that would surely have landed him a spot in a Heinz commercial if they had come knocking at that particular moment.

Only they didn’t.

So I asked Snags for a bit more clarification and he said: “Well, I mean does God build the babies by putting two halves of them together, like the left side and the right side?  Or does he build them by taking all the parts, like the legs, and attaching them to the stomach, and then does he screw on the head like this?” (pantomimes screwing a head on to a baby – note it had a LOT of threading, because he had to turn and turn and turn that invisible head onto the invisible baby).

“Ah,” I said, nearly crying with relief and understanding.  This was less about HOW babies were made than it was about how babies were MADE.   I almost laughed out loud.

“Well,” I said cautiously, “I think that babies actually grow, kind of like a plant, from a seed.  I guess God gives a seed to a mom and a dad when they really love each other and then it grows into a baby.”

Snags seemed happy enough with that explanation.  He didn’t ask how the seed gets into the mother.  When he does ask that question I am going with one of two answers: “Go ask your father!” or “She eats it.”

Still, Snags had one more question. 

“Well then,” he said, “The thing I don’t understand is, if babies grow from a seed, how come they have this line down here?” (pointing to towards his perineum).

“Hmmm…I don’t really know,” I said.  “Maybe that’s just how the seed grows into a baby.”

“Or maybe,” Snags said, “Maybe that’s the medicine hole.  If a baby is in its mommy’s tummy and needs medicine but closes its mouth, maybe there is a hole there and they could still get medicine to the baby that way and then it closes up when the baby comes out or however it gets out.”

I pretended to ignore his comment about how babies “get out”. 

Instead I said, “You might be right.” And I pondered two things: a misplaced umbilical cord, and the pillow I made in Home Economics in 7th grade.  The pillow was made by sewing three quarters of the way around on the reverse side of the fabric.  Then the pillow was turned inside-out (or right-side out as the case may be) and stuffed with pillow stuffing. The small opening was then stitched shut by hand, leaving a bit of a seam.  Not unlike the perineum, I suppose.

Lucky for me, it was bedtime at that point, and Snags didn’t ask anymore questions as he settled down to sleep.

I however, had a question.  Actually, two: Where the hell WAS his father?  And why, once again, was I the one stuck with the baby questions? 

Okay, I admit, there was a third question:  If God really did screw our heads on, why can’t we turn them all the way around, like an owl?


Filed under babies, humor, kids, life, parenting, questions, Snags, where do babies come from

Pandas Have Fingers

My six-year old son, Snags, wants to take Karate.  He was interested in doing so even before the movie Kung Fu Panda came out, but now that he’s seen the movie twice (once at IMAX!) he’s even more excited about the possibility.  I think he will be disappointed when his first lesson doesn’t turn out to be full of jumping spins with karate chops and kicks and “HI-YA’s!” thrown in.  It’s true, I’ve never taken karate myself, but being a child of the 80s, I have seen The Karate Kid, and I know Snags will end up waxing on and off, sanding floors, and painting a bunch of fences before he’s allowed to get a good side kick in.

This evening we were sitting around the house, doing nothing much but subjecting ourselves to the ear bleeding horror that is Kidz Bop 9, when Snags suddenly ran off to the kitchen where he dumped out an entire box of 24 Crayolas and started drawing something.  He returned a few moments later with paper in hand, the page covered with a neatly drawn brown cross.

I’m not sure if it was something he heard in Kids Ruin Perfectly Good Songs Kidz Bop 9 or what, but Snags was suddenly in the mood to draw pictures about, and look at pictures about religion.  My husband and I were in the mood to play dumb, so we pretended that we didn’t know what a cross was. We wanted to see how Snags would explain the symbolism behind the cross, but he wasn’t in the mood for explaining.

“Is it a plus sign?” My husband offered. 

“No!” Snags said.  “A plus sign is for math and for adding stuff.”

“Well then, tell us what the cross means,” my husband said.

But Snags wouldn’t talk.

“Is it a cross like ‘across’ the street?” I asked.

“NO!” Snags cried, before adding in exasperation, “You need a bible!” and running off to find one.

He returned with not one, but two bibles.  He demanded that I search through the table of contents of his Precious Moments Bible for “Jesus” and read about the cross for myself, but I couldn’t find “Jesus” listed anywhere.  I did find “Malachi” (page 826), but he, as you probably know, is from Children of the Corn, and that movie was too scary to be telling a young child about.  And besides, I don’t want to give Snags any ideas, you know? I don’t need him leading some neighborhood uprising of kids with scythes.

Since the Precious Moments Bible yielded nothing, or at least nothing that I felt like reading to him, Snags turned to the other book he’d brought, Bible Stories for Children.  He flipped through the pages until he found a drawing of Jesus on the cross with the two thieves crucified on either side of him. 

Still playing dumb, my husband deduced from that photo that Jesus made crosses and sold them to people.  Snags, totally exasperated with us at this point, announced that we needed to go to church every Sunday so we, his parents, could learn about the cross.  Because clearly, HIS efforts to educate us weren’t working.

I thought we were done with the whole discussion but then we walked into the kitchen where I found another drawing on the kitchen table.  “Oh,” I said proudly, as I pointed to the drawing. “What’s this?  Kung-Fu Panda?”

Only… it wasn’t. 

“Uh, noooo,” Snags said.  “That is a picture of Jesus when he was a baby. Kung-Fu Panda has fingers, if it was Kung-Fu Panda I would have drawn fingers on him.”

Clearly, I stood corrected.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I laughed out loud.  Hard.  But I couldn’t help it.  As if I’d entered a time machine, I was immediately taken back to one of the funniest episode of Friends I’d ever seen.  It’s the one where Joey and Chandler are babysitting Ross’s infant son, Ben.  Only they lose him, and then they find themselves in a situation where they are flipping a coin to determine which baby is Ben.  Joey calls heads because “ducks have heads,” leaving Chandler to ask “What kind of scary ass clowns came to your birthday?” 

I explained to Snags, as my husband hid his face and his own laughter behind the open refrigerator door, that I wasn’t laughing at him or his drawing, I was simply laughing at how wrong I was.  And apparently at how much I missed at church over the years.  I never knew the Baby Jesus didn’t have any fingers. I hope they talk about it at church this Sunday.  And I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with Malachi.  If it does, I’m gonna have to send that Panda after him. Because he’s got fingers.


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Filed under humor, karate, life, Snags