Sunday, July 20, 2008


So there are two stone steps leading up from my back yard to the patio, and yesterday afternoon I was walking up them while wearing flip-flops. And I tripped.

On my way down, in addition to banging knees and elbows and face on the cement, I sliced open the tippy-tip of my right big toe. The same toe that has, on its wrinkly exposed nail bed, half a new toenail. Which replaced the old purple toenail, which still had a black drill-hole from where the blood had to be drained after I dropped a 25-pound weight on it. The fall practically scraped the tip clean off in an almost perfect circle, though at the moment it is hanging on by a thread.

God, this thing is mutilated. Is it possible that my toe is cursed?! I am pretty sure that's exactly what is going on, and that it had nothing to do with the margaritas I was enjoying at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

There ain't no bugs in me!

Dear county health clinic,

You owe me tears. Lots and lots of tears.


Let's begin with the news: I don't have tuberculosis. Despite what I was told a few months ago, my body is perfectly free of deadly and infectious bacteria, and I have a stamped, signed immunization record to prove it.

See, I spent a lot of time thinking this through during my month between jobs, and I realized there's no way I could take that scary medication unless I honestly believed it would help me. I learned this lesson the hard way, with the whole lumbar-puncture extravaganza. Every fiber of my being knew that procedure was totally unnecessary. I knew I had food poisoning, not spinal meningitis. But I let that cranky ER doctor talk me into it, much to my great suffering and remorse. So with this TB problem, I was feeling really stubborn about just doing what I was told. Packing my body with crazy drugs. Risking damage to my organs, rearranging my life plans. NINE MONTHS WITHOUT VODKA.

Not helping matters was how the results of my test were determined with a ball-point pen. A ball-point freaking pen! OK, so in a TB test, they inject a little bit of something under your skin. Two days later, if your skin is all angry and red about it, that's bad. Well, my injection site ended up looking like a mosquito bite. So this doctor yanks a pen out of the desk drawer, draws four sloppy little marks on my skin and measures the distance between them. She explained that 10 or below is normal, 11-15 is questionable, and 16 or higher means you're toast. Well, I was an 11, and so I failed. According to the OFFICE SUPPLY.

Now, this won't be a very smooth segue, but try to go with it. Every now and then for as long as I can remember, I wake up in the middle of the night and see giant spiders dropping down from the ceiling onto my face. Spiders the size of your hands. I shriek and scramble off the bed (in a careful, horizontal fashion, so my face doesn't bang into the spiders) and cower in the corner of the room until the lights come on and I begin to wake up. It's sort of an interesting sleepwalk/nightmare combo. Well, I had one of these episodes Monday night, and I leaped out of bed in such an awkward manner that I aggravated the tendinitis in my right wrist. I've been dealing with this nagging pain for more than a year but never got it checked out because (a) despite what you might believe by reading this blog, I don't ACTIVELY seek out reasons to need medical care, and (b) it was usually just a mild annoyance. But when I was escaping the spider attack Monday night, something got really inflamed and the next day I could barely move my wrist. So I made an appointment with my doctor, and after we dealt with the wrist thing, I say, "Oh, and by the way. This TB thing. I kind of want another test, because I don't really trust that broad at the county clinic. That OK with you?" Sure thing. Five minutes later a nurse injects my arm, and then I leave.

And for the next 48 hours, my eyeballs are glued to the injection site, where there is no bump.



I practically bounded into his office today to get the test site checked. My doctor was as shocked as I was. Took one look at my arm and said, "Um, you don't have tuberculosis." I KNOW! I SO TOTALLY DO NOT HAVE TUBERCULOSIS! But I ask him, if the first one was positive, and this one was negative, how do we know which one was wrong? Do we need to do some sort of tuberculosis tiebreaker test? But he said that if I had the bacteria, there's no way it can "hide" from this test, so the first one has to be wrong. He thinks maybe the first doctor gave me too much of the chemical, or administered it improperly or in a bad site. I suspect recycled drug needles, but whatever, it doesn't matter now. What matters is this: Don't be cheap. I went to the county health clinic instead of my own doctor because I thought it would save me some money. Instead, for the bargain price of $20, I got myself bills for a chest X-ray and two or three additional office visits, plus some serious panic and anguish. The crazy part is that it feels SO good to be free of a disease I never had to begin with, I couldn't care about that stuff if I tried.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So then we got arrested at this cockfight and...

No, just kidding. Cancun talk is over, at least until the next auction.

Started the new job last week, and so far it's going great, although there is a learning curve. For one thing, I learned that at a Catholic high school? If you see a "Sr." in front of someone's name, it does not mean "SeƱor." This notation perplexed me for two full days. I was like, "Man, how weird that a private girls school owes it all to a bunch of important Hispanic males?!?"

My new responsibilities have a whole lot in common with my old ones, in that I'll be doing a lot of writing, editing and organizing. Beyond that, well, it's a very happy place, and that's nothing like the newspaper, where layoffs have taken such a toll on the staff and readers. The proud and optimistic atmosphere of a school now feels almost unbelievable. When I arrived on my first day, the maintenance guys were still installing stuff in my office so I strolled around the campus and tried to get my bearings. I wandered past a beautiful blue swimming pool filled with splashing, laughing kids. Walked through the gym and admired the championship banners hanging on the walls as sunbeams streamed down onto the court. Then I stumble into a theater by following the voices of about 30 teenagers belting out, "The sun'll come ouuuuuut ... tomorrowwwww!" I practically suffocated myself on all that joy. (Man, I hate sounding like so wide-eyed and corny right now. But I spent 10 years in journalism, and even back in the good times, newsrooms were rough around the edges. Plus, I was usually in a sports department, which ain't exactly all cupcakes and balloons, you know? So you'll forgive a little wonderment at this strange foreign object that seems very much like a happy workplace.)

Now I have to go before I'm late for my nine-toenail pedicure. (Oh, I forgot to mention that. The seawater in Mexico was exactly what my big toe needed to finally let go of that disgusting purple nail. I made my husband take pictures for the blog -- and, boy, was he ever grateful for that opportunity -- but I'm so grossed out I don't think I can stare at that photo long enough to post it. But the good news is, there's a wee little toenail growing in its place. Come on, little guy! Come on outta there!)

Up next: How imaginary spiders helped me in my war against tuberculosis!