Today the tickle that became a cough has become a raging sinus infection with a side of bronchitis.  I woke up feeling like I’d done some intense ocular workouts, but I took some Advil, and went to work.  By 12:30, when I got back to the office, I was sneezing and wheezing and gobbing all over the place.  If I hadn’t had actual work to do, and deadlines to meet, I would have gone home early.  As it was, I made it to 3:30pm, and went home to nap, and wait for Mr. Apron.  I tried calling my doctor at 10:30am, when I was between sessions, and was infomed that this man, my 85-year-old who made home visits to Mr. Apron’s great grandmother (for which she put on make-up), was not in the office today, and that the next appoint would be next Thursday or Friday.  By which point I would almost certainly be well.  To understand how unlikely it was that he was away at the AMA convention, you must understand that this man keeps evening hours 4 days a week until 9pm, after having worked full days and only having gone home for dinner.  He also works Tuesdays till 10pm, and Saturday mornings.  I think he must not like his wife very much.  It’s a wonder they ever had children.  He does take off the entire month of August, so you’d better not get sick then.  We have a theory he goes for rejuvenation treatments, probably involving formaldehyde and whole-body lifts.  But he keep on working.  Except for today.  I hung up, disappointed. 

Later in the day, Mr. Apron told me that his mother (who has bronchitis as well — but she swears she did not give it to me) went to the office and saw some “Nordic-looking woman” in the practice next door.  So I called back, rambling, “I know the doctor isn’t in this week, but is it possible to see someone from down the hall because I’m sick and need an appointment?”  She asked my name and birthdate, then offered, “Do you need to see the doctor, or would you like us to just phone in a prescription?”  I considered for maybe 3 nanoseconds, and readily told her my pharmacy’s name and my symptoms.  I get drugs without having to see Dr. Lutefisk, or giving her a copay!  I don’t like seeing new doctors; I like predictability and sameness in my healthcare providers.  That’s why I go to the octogenarian who gave Mr. Apron every immunization he’s ever had, and who knows the family history because he’s part of it. 

You must understand this is the first time I’ve ever gotten drugs without going to the doctor.  Even growing up with a physician father, I never got meds.  I just didn’t like drugs.  I was afraid of them.  Part of this is having grown up super healthy — no ear infections, no croup, no broken bones (till age 15), no rubella.  The other part of is is DARE.  I swear, they lumped every controlled substance — legal and illicit — together in that really cool plexiglass-faced suitcase, and scared me stiff from any pills powders, suspensions, or injections.  Even as an adolescent discovering the joys of womanhood (that’s how the hopelessly optimistic books portrayed it), I’d sooner lie writhing on the ground, curled up like a pillbug than take a Motrin. 

When I was fifteen, I broke my first bone.  Or, rather, a dumbass kid in my gym class broke it.  We were taking our PE final exam in the weight room, having been kicked out of the gym for the “Party at school and keep yourself safe on graduation night rather than going out into the dark scary streets of Smalltown, Minnesota” event.  Surprisingly, most grads did come to this event, which shows how lame Smalltown, Minnesota truly is.  So we were taking a scantron gym final, covering such topics as “Who is the professional basketball team for Minnesota?” and “How many players are on a boot hockey team?” I was seated on a weight-lifting bench, pencilling in my last 10 circles with my #2 pencil, when that dumbass, who had finished early but had to stay till the clock said we were done, decided to do some weight-lifting.  I can’t recall if we did a rotation in the weight room, in addition to such sports as raquetball, cross-country skiing, and swimming, but if we had, dumbass had since forgotten about that little piece you put on the end of the bar to keep the weight on.  I hadn’t.  He also forgot that his Woody Allen physique couldn’t  lift 90 lbs.  I saw that 45lb cylinder slide right down the barbell and bounce off my Doc Martens.  If I’d been wearing sandals, I can only imagine how much more damage he would have wreaked.  As it was, my big toe broke in 2 places.  I refused a trip to the nurse’s office, preferring instead to call home and hobble to the door.  I was in so much pain I couldn’t even climb the stairs to check out my other final grades.  I think the gym teacher was shitting himself worried we’d sue the school for negligence, but I didn’t report it, not knowing about such litigious opportunities as these.  For the next 2 years at school, he’d pass me in the hall and ask how I was doing.  Still scared. 

A week later, I had all my bone-impacted wisdom teeth extracted under general anesthesia.  They gave me a barf bucket for the ride home, a ‘script for some medicine to reduce swelling or fight infection, and a ‘script for Tylenol III.  I was so afraid of codeine, I didn’t touch the stuff. 

Finally, in college, after still finding myself out of commission once  a month with tear-inducing cramps, clutching a heat pad, I gave up and went on the birth control pill.  I am a convert.  Talk to me about side effects, benefits, cross-drug interactions, which ones reduce fever, and which ones you can’t eat grapefruit with.  I’ve got Advil, Tylenol, Excedrin Migraine, Sudafed (currently helping me breathe), and all the rest.  I’ve learned that drugs are my friend, and that DARE is a program full of scare tactics and bad skits. 

I had a drug-seeking roommate in college with whom I had the misfortune to go on a 7-week backpacking tour of Europe.  This was a girl on so many medications for asthma and allergies and post-nasal drip, and anemia, and probably others, she used an entire Bed, Bath, & Beyond plastic wheely drawer thing for her drugs.  Anticipating one of her hypochondriacal illnesses might flare up during our trip, she acquired from her pathologist mother a supply of antibiotics “just in case”.  She did use them, and on our last day, came down with some other mysterous malady which could only be cured by protein.  After crying out for chocolate milk (somewhat hard to find in Europe), I assured her I could find her yogurt.  “Does that have protein?”  Come on.  If you’re going to be a successful drug-seeking hypochondriac, you at least have to know your stuff.

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