This Past Thursday

Published May 9, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, I think I’ve recovered enough to talk about it now.

So Thursday starts out–no, let me back up a bit.  The previous Thursday, in class the professor said that “next week will be our last class meeting” but that he wanted to meet with all of us, individually, on Tuesday or Wednesday to talk about our previous papers and our upcoming final papers.  I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday (to get the crowns put in) but Wednesday was wide open, so I was okay with that.

So he starts an e-mail sign-up sheet on Sunday, for us to say what time we want to meet on Tuesday.  I reply by pointing out that Tuesday is off the table for me, but Wednesday is good.  He says he’ll let me know what times he’s open on Wednesday…and eventually–like, Wednesday morning–says that no, he’s not going to be available at all on Wednesday.  I reply and tell him that I have a doctor’s appointment for my arm problem on Thursday at 11:00, and that I don’t know how long it will last or how long it will take to get to campus from the hospital, but that I’d definitely be available right before or right after class.  He says he’ll only be in his office at 11:00 on Thursday, so we’ll have to talk about the paper via e-mail.  I’m like “okay, whatever,” and don’t reply, ’cause it didn’t seem like a reply was needed.

I guess it was.

But more on that later.  So, Thursday morning, I’m on the way to the hospital, and I’m pissed off at the weather, because I was promised thunderstorms, and I’m getting a bright sunny day.  Good for most people, but torturous for me, because my left arm feels hot all the time, and the sunlight streaming down on it through the car window as I’m driving is the worst.  (And no one was available to drive me to the hospital.)  Plus there were lots of crazy people out on the road, as usual.  And it usually feels like I’m the only person in a five million mile radius who obeys the speed limit.  But mostly it was the weather that was the problem.  I spent a lot of time on that drive screaming obscenities at the sky–and sometimes at other drivers–and I definitely cried some, too.  Frustration will do that to me sometimes.

I did more screaming of obscenities in the parking garage at the hospital, because the first decent parking place I found was for “valet parking.”  Who does valet parking at a hospital?  And, more importantly, why would the valet parking have the good parking places?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the furthest out parking places for the valet parking, since the valets are being paid to walk over there and retrieve the cars?

Anyway, I did just barely manage to get to the office on time, and I actually didn’t even do much reading in the waiting room before I was taken inside the see the neurologist.

Now, this is the second time I’ve seen a neurologist about this condition.  The first time was six years ago (yes, you read that right) and the doctor I saw at that time was an old man who patronized me and clearly thought I was just looking for attention, whether at a conscious or subconscious level.  (And the scary thing is that based on what the person at the referrals desk said when I called in looking to see someone about this, if he hadn’t retired, she’d have sent me right back to see him again, even though I told her how utterly useless and unprofessional he’d been.)  So, I was very leery of going through with the appointment, because I didn’t want to go through that again.

On the other hand, due to the research I’ve been doing for my final paper, I had read some about how male doctors sometimes respond to their male and female patients differently, and I made sure to make what I said as “clinical” and unlike a “complaint” as possible, to discourage the stereotypical “hysterical woman” response to my symptoms.  (Admittedly, the book I saw that described in was written in the late 1980s, so while it was decidedly accurate regarding that earlier doctor, I don’t know if a younger doctor, like the guy I saw on Thursday, would be likely to fall into that older stereotyping mindset.)

Anyway, long story short, he did take my symptoms seriously, and ran a few in-office nerve tests–which involved sending an electric shock through various places in my arm to see how the muscles reacted (though I have no idea what that tells him about the nerves, as opposed to the muscles, which jumped like the frog’s legs Mary Godwin witnessed 200 years ago)–and made several suggestions as to further diagnostic tests that should be run, and some interim measures to help alleviate the worst of the symptoms.

The two tests were an MRI of my neck–which was done before, but apparently he thought a second test would help–and brain, which terrifies me.  Seriously, if there’s something wrong with my brain that’s causing this…wouldn’t that mean I had a tumor or something else equally fatal?  I keep worrying that they’re going to call me after the test and say “Sorry, it’s inoperable.  Too bad you didn’t find out about this a few years ago.  Then we could have saved you.”  I realize that’s probably utter paranoia, of course.  After all, if it was something like that, surely this condition would have gotten much worse, surely it would have spread to other parts of the body, or I’d have other symptoms.  I keep trying to tell myself that, but…yeah, it’s scary.  This is not going to help my paper any.

Oh, and the other test was that he wants to have a sleep study done.  Which is this thing where you go to a special room at the hospital–he assures me it’s more like a hotel room than a hospital room–and sleep with stuff stuck to you to analyze your sleeping patterns.  Um.  There are so many reasons I don’t want to do that.  Which isn’t to say that I wouldn’t feel relieved to sleep somewhere other than my bedroom in my house.  I frequently fantasize fondly of going and spending a night in a really nice hotel, just to be doing.  But I don’t, ’cause that would be expensive.  However, there are more reasons I don’t want to do it.  For one thing, my sleep habits are thus:  I hang out in here, working or blogging or gaming until about, well, it varies, but let’s say around 11:30 pm, give or take half an hour.  Then I turn off the lights in the rest of the house and retire to my room, getting all ready for bed, and I sit in bed writing or proofreading my fiction until I’m so tired that I think I can drop right off to sleep.  (Lately, taking a Tylenol PM or its generic equivalent has been required for this step to hit fruition.)  So by the time I actually go to bed, it’s somewhere between midnight and one in the morning.  At what point in that process would I be expected to drive down to the hospital?  It takes me at least half an hour to get there, and driving is stressful for me, and night driving even more so, so it’s none of it conducive to the whole “sleep” idea.

The funny (?) thing is that as he was telling me about how he wanted to have a sleep study done, to see if my sleep habits were causing this problem, he kept going on about “sleep apnea” and how it could cause this, that and the other if not corrected by various methods.  I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I have no idea what “apnea” even means.

Anyway, so the appointment was over by noon, and class was at 5:30.  So I had tons of time, and could have gone home in the interim.  But I had assumed I wouldn’t have enough time for that, and had brought all my books and my tablet with me.  It would have been a waste of my time to have brought that stuff with me if I wasn’t going to need it, so I decided to hang out in the area of the hospital–there’s a mall and a street with lots of shops on it not that far away–and then take the new route direct from the hospital to the campus that I had found.

I went to a nice pizza place for lunch, which was good, and hit a new bookstore that I didn’t know what it was–turned out to be a used book store, but not as nice as the others I know–followed by Barnes & Noble.  Oh, I also went to Toys R Us before either bookstore, but I held back on buying anything ’cause I had $10 in coupons I hadn’t printed out yet, and I’ve have felt a right moron buying anything when I didn’t have my coupons. (Though there wasn’t really anything to buy anyway:  the next set of Monster High dolls still isn’t out.  They’ll probably be a summer release, I’m guessing.)

So by the time I’d done all that, it was about 2-2:30, and seemed a good time to head to campus.  I contemplated stopping somewhere for a soda and a snack, but decided not to, figuring that I could get something when I arrived at the campus.

I wish I hadn’t done that.

At first, the new route was stressful.  I’d told the map site to avoid highways, because I get uncomfortable driving above 40 mph.  However, the very first road I was told to use was, in fact, a highway, and had a speed limit of 55.  This freaked me right out, and I could feel my steering wheel shaking in my hands.  (No, it was not the other way around!)  Fortunately, I only had to stay on that for a couple of miles, so it could have been a lot worse.

The street I spent most of my time on is one that I’ve been on a lot in small chunks, but now I was having to drive on it for about 9 miles.  Some of that territory was familiar, but most of it I’d never seen before, and at times I began to freak out and wonder if I was on the wrong road.

But before I got to those unfamiliar stretches, I was caught in a horrible, horrible traffic jam.  We’re talking one of those five-minutes-motionless-followed-by-two-carlengths-of-movement kind of traffic jams.  On a very hot day.  (The thunderstorm never did surface.)  With intermittent sunshine.  It was too hot to have my air conditioning on for very long at a time, because I didn’t want my engine to overheat or something.  But it was also too hot to have the windows open, and it was too hot to have nothing at all.  So the best I could do was turn the AC on for a while and then turn it off for a while.  I was in this traffic jam for so long that eventually I decided to get out one of my books I was reading through for my paper, and started reading it during the motionless phases.  I got through two pages that way.

I noticed early on that the other lane was moving better than the one I was in.  But I didn’t try to get over.  In part because I didn’t think I could.  But also because I figured that one way or the other, this jam meant that one lane was going to have to merge into the other.  And the lane being merged into always moves worse than the lane that needs to merge.

Eventually, we got close enough to see the signs saying “road work ahead” and “left lane closed ahead”…and still the people in the left lane were just zipping along–well, no, not zipping, but moving faster than us, anyway–without any concern for the fact that they couldn’t stay in that lane.

It turned out that the “road work” being done was actually gardening work on the plants in the meridian between the two directions of traffic, which had for some reason required them to close off the left lane for about a block.  In the middle of the afternoon on a major thoroughfare on a weekday.

So the reason I was sitting in that traffic jam for at least half an hour–if not a full hour–in the heat was because a bunch of idiots didn’t know how to merge properly.  A bunch of six year olds could have done a better job of merging.

Anyway, so once I was past the yard work, I was able to get to campus without further difficulty.  And I went to the library and got the last book I needed for my paper without too much trouble once I remember what pocket of my bag I’d put its call number in.  (I freaked out when it wasn’t in the one I thought I’d left it in, though.  Thought I’d dropped it at the doctor’s office.)

So then I went to get a snack and a much needed drink (though I had at least had a nice long drink from a water fountain as soon as I got to campus) and headed to the building my class meets in.  I knew I should work, but I was feeling stressed out, and wanted to relax by working on the day’s post, which had been very incomplete when I had left home (it did end up being, what, like 3500 words?) and at first all three computers in the building’s lobby were occupied, so I was faced with the unpleasant alternative of having to use my tablet for the task.  But I had barely started when two of the people left, and I was able to go use one of the computers instead.

I kept at that until about 5:15–with a brief break to go get another soda–at which time I went to the classroom, and was surprised to find it entirely empty.  I used my tablet to check my e-mail and the class announcements, but neither said anything about class being cancelled, so I decided everyone else was just showing up a bit later than usual (generally people start showing up around 5:10 or so) and set about using my tablet to continue working on the Titanomachy.  The tablet’s keyboard ran out of battery power about 5:40.  At which time I was still the only person in the room, and there was still no mention of cancellation on the class announcements or in my e-mail.

So I called my brother and told him that my class was cancelled and no one bothered to tell me, and that I was going to come to his place to moan about it for a while.  (Uh, not in those words.)  Anyway, long drive later, I get to his place and as soon as I enter I’m met with the overwhelming stench of decaying rat.  Because his condo is infested with rats (apparently, the whole subdivision has a problem with them) and two of them had a fight underneath his tub the other day (I was there at the time, and we could hear the thumps and squeals) and so now there’s a rat corpse under his condo, and though he called the office to have them send someone out to deal with it, apparently they haven’t come or they couldn’t get at the corpse or a second rat died.  Whatever the deal is, it reeks in there, but the back room where his computer is set up doesn’t smell, so we spent a while in there, and I had to listen to him bitch about his day before I could start ranting about mine.  (His was also bad, but with less sitting in cars screaming pointlessly at the universe.)  We ended up going to a different Toys R Us, after printing out my coupons, so he could use them for a collector’s set of Avengers-related figures that were a TRU exclusive.  (A SHIELD set of Coulson, Fury and Hill.  Which was pretty awesome, which is why I told him about it.  Especially since we’d been talking about Maria Hill just the night before.)

Anyway, by the time I finally got home, it was about 8:30, and I didn’t even bother playing the message on my answering machine, figuring it was probably the sleep center.  It turned out it was Walgreens saying “your prescription is ready” to which I was like “What prescription?!” because I hadn’t realized that the doctor was prescribing me some medication for my arm.  It would have helped a lot if I’d known that, so I could have stopped by and picked it up on the way home.  Though maybe the pharmacy would have already been closed by that point anyway.

I’m not sure if it was Thursday’s stress or the over-the-counter rub-on stuff I got at Walgreens (also on the doctor’s recommendation) but my arm was so bad on Friday that by about 6:00 it felt like there was literally fire dripping across the lower section of my arm.  I couldn’t even put it in water to cool it down unless the water was ice-cold.  As soon as it got even a tiny degree towards tepid, my arm reacted to it like it was boiling.  But after spending an hour with an ice pack on it, it had gotten to the point where I could put it in any temperature water and it was okay.  Though it resumed not-okayness soon after getting back out of the bath.  Still, I think it was probably an allergic reaction to the over-the-counter stuff, ’cause there was also some discoloration, which there’s never been before.  Fortunately, the prescription stuff, which was a pad that I could put on for twelve hours at a time, so I opted to use it at night, worked great, and I actually got a decent night’s sleep for a change.  It wasn’t perfect–smaller than the afflicted area, for one thing–but it was good enough that I was able to sleep without using any sleep aid medication!  I think that was literally the first night I’ve slept without a pill since I lost my cat.

Though at this point I’ve finished with my bitching about how terrible Thursday was (I still haven’t heard a word from my professor, btw, even though he said he was going to e-mail me my previous paper with comments so I’d know what I’d done wrong and could avoid it in the final paper) I just want to add one more thing.  I actually wrote an unconnected short story last night.  I thought of it while I was in the bath, and write it up after I went to bed.  It’s only about 3,000 words long, so I was tempted to just post it on the blog sometime and see what people think of it–I’m still too close to be able to assess it with any proper judgement–but I’m not sure what the WordPress policy on swearing is.  There’s a lot of a certain word in it–well, maybe not a lot, but at least half a dozen uses–that I’m not usually comfortable using in text.  (Which is ironic, considering how many times I screamed it in my car on Thursday.  But then I was using it as a meaningless word of irritation and anger–though I did acknowledge its verb status by sometimes adding “-ing” to it–and in the story I use it with its original intended meaning.)  I was trying to create an entirely genderless narrator, and I feel like I came pretty close to succeeding, so I’m curious about whether other people feel the same way or not.  I’ve got a single short story up on LeanPub; maybe I’ll put it in that collection and pass out the link so people can check it out that way.  Dunno if anyone would read it, though.  (Would anyone read it?)

I’ve also thought about posting my play I wrote last December, scene by scene, since it’s a mythology play.  If I did, would anyone actually critique it?  I feel like it has the potential to become something good, if I just had someone to point out where I went wrong, so I could fix the problems.

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