I found a great post prompt on SocialMoms.com the other day. It was titled, What Are Your Tips For Taking Care of Yourself? I was going to post a clever response here including “tips” like this:
Sunburns are dangerous. Therefore, I go to the tanning bed several days a week during spring so that by the time summer rolls around, my skin will bake a golden brown color which nicely compliments my wardrobe, rather than burning red and peeling, which does not.
I mean, logical, yes? Anyway, then THIS STORY happened, and I decided it’s official. I do not properly take care of myself. Noted.
See, I used to be healthy as an ox (oxen = poster children of health, so the saying goes). I could count on one hand the number I’ve times I was sick in all those years between high school graduation and the day I had my baby boy, Benjamin.
At three months old we enrolled Benjamin in daycare so I could return to work. And here’s the thing when you have a child in daycare: said child incubates xyz diseases and brings them home to you. When you donate your body to a baby for nine months? You’re also signing over your immune system. At least in my case.
Daycare is a dirty place. I mean, daycare and school in general, I’m gathering. Beneath all those shiny floors, sparkly toys, and smiling faces, there are germs. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they disinfect everything ALL THE TIME. Don’t be fooled, my friends, by the fact that that place looks cleaner and more organized than your house, because it’s not. It’s germ city. And they are the ugliest germs you’ve ever seen… children germs… olive green with warts and Flock of Seagulls hair.
There’s your premise.
Here’s how it went down. Two weeks ago I had a cold. It was a pretty nasty cold. Headache, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, the works. I didn’t take the time to get checked out by a doctor because, you know, that wasn’t the convenient thing to do. I was busy at work and I was busy at home. Finding an hour in the day to devote to waiting around a doctor’s office was not high on my priority list unless I was most certainly dying. Which I wasn’t. Yet.
My cold would pass, I thought. Just ignore it and it’ll go away. DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE COLD AND IT WON’T SEE YOU.
Well. Then Saturday rolled around and I realized all signs pointed to a sinus infection. Actually, my mother had to point that out to me, that’s how unfamiliar I am with this thing called “being sick.” And guess what? Now I had a toothache. Actually, it was a teethache, as in MULTIPLE TEETH. I asked my husband, Charlie, to Google “causes of toothache” knowing it was something more elaborate than a cavity and suspecting it was related to my sinuses. Here’s what Google said:
Do you grind your teeth?
Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
Do you have a sinus infection?
Yes, yes, and yes. Awesome! Not only do I have a sinus infection, but maybe it’s finally time to have that wisdom teeth surgery I’ve always wanted! Or to wear that setsy bite guard! I took an over the counter pain reliever all weekend to combat the toothache (teethache), promising myself I’d see a physician first thing Monday morning.
But then came Sunday night. WHEN I CALLED THE EMERGENCY ROOM. You all, this toothache became more painful than my c-section ever thought about being. In fact, when I was in the hospital recovering from my c-section, they kept asking me to rate my pain on a scale of 0 to 10. 0 meant no pain, 5 meant crying, and 10 meant screaming. I said I was a 1-2, only because I was annoyed at the IV. That’s another story in itself. This toothache was an 8 (crying, paired with rocking back and forth, paired with screaming at inanimate objects such as your computer because it’s being too slow when you’re trying to Google “sinus infection death”). In fact, I watched a recent episode of I’m Alive on Animal Planet where this boy was bitten multiple times by a cottonmouth snake, and the way he described that feeling is pretty much how I felt. And yes, I’m comparing my toothache to a venomous snake bite, but you just wait until I compare it to childbirth which I will do later in this story.
(And since we’re on the subject of animal attacks, I will say that at one point that night I sincerely thought my situation was worse than, say, being mauled by a mountain lion, because at least in that situation you have the whole adrenaline thing in your favor. I am not making this up. Which is why it’s important not to drive at times like these.)
So. Sunday night, around bedtime, I was in hysterics. My teeth hurt so badly all I could think about was how badly I wished I had a scalpel lying around so I could carve my own teeth out of my mouth. And Charlie didn’t know what to do, so he’s suggesting all these random things like mouthwash and Sensodyne. Because mouthwash might make my teeth “go numb” he said. Wha? And Sensodyne, really? I resisted my urge to hit him, though, because I needed someone to watch the baby in case I passed out. Or died.
Anyway, I called the nearby emergency room to see what kind of wait there was and also to ask a question about combining two over the counter medications (one for sinus, which I’d already taken, and one for pain). But first, I had to call 411 to get the emergency room’s number, and do you know that 411 operator asked about a million questions to determine which particular number I actually needed? As if she could not read my mind? She kept asking what street it was on (I wasn’t sure. It could be one of three roads.) then kept repeating the wrong hospital name back to me.
Me: “Just give me ANY EMERGENCY ROOM NUMBER. Anything. I don’t care. This is an emergency!”
(At this point I was glad that woman couldn’t read my mind because she would’ve been… offended.)
For about ten seconds I considered calling 911. If you’d been bitten by a cottonmouth you’d call 911 too. Wait?
I called the number she provided and was quickly transferred to the appropriate line at the appropriate hospital. This turned out to be zero help because, let me tell you, those ER operators and very well-versed in how to avoid lawsuits via misinformation provided via phone. I explained my problem, assertively, and asked, “would someone there be able to help me with this problem?” And the ER operator said, “If you are having an emergency we will have a doctor see you.” Um, ok? Then I asked, “How long is the wait?” Operator said, “All I can say is that we’re steady.” Then I asked about the medications and she quickly deflected that one too. AHH!
Alright. Deep breaths everyone. Have I mentioned how badly my teeth hurt? I’D LIKE TO REITERATE THAT PART. By this point I was sweating bullets. Finally I asked Charlie to bring me a cold washcloth that I could press against my jaw. I learned as a child that when all else fails? Cold washcloth! In hindsight I’m almost positive I was fading in and out of consciousness at this point.
Somehow I managed to fall in and out of sleep that night. When I woke up my sheets were soaked in sweat. Also, I had a pretty vivid dream about ski-diving over the ocean, which I think was ironic.
Monday morning, with my toothache hangover, I got to the urgent care clinic ten minutes before opening. I was the first patient! But I wasn’t seen until about 9. Not irritating at all. I explained my symptoms to the doctor, placing extra emphasis on the toothache part, but when he kind of shrugged and said, “oh yeah, sinus infections can sometimes cause that, it’s normal…” I replied, “NO. This is a serious toothache. Worse than childbirth and I know because I have a child!”
(I did not disclose that by “childbirth” I meant “c-section” because it didn’t matter. I needed that man’s attention.)
He gave me the side eye.
I gave him the side eye back, then my eyes welled up with tears because I just wanted someone to hurry up and knock me out or something. I hadn’t taken anything for pain in about 7 hours and the burning throb sensation was becoming snakebite-like again. I mean, childbirth-like. Whatever.
Finally he let me go with a prescription for the appropriate medications to combat Ebola or whatever it was I had (Ebola).
I’m just going to fast forward through the next part where my body rejected the medications and I spent a good part of Monday evening hovering over the toilet. And the part where my arms felt like I’d been given tetanus shots. You’re welcome. But we worked it out. By Tuesday afternoon I was almost sure I would to live. By Friday I was back in business.
So what’s the take away message here? That’s right, I’m offering a take away message! In hindsight, I should have made a doctor’s visit a priority as soon as I noticed that the stuff I was blowing out of my nose was… not clear. Because what could have originally been a couple hours at the doctor’s office and pharmacy, spiraled into this huge, painful ordeal.
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