I may have mentioned once or twice my displeasure with the medical establishment, a displeasure that arises from their inability to deal with my own heart condition, which for simplicity's sake I'll just refer to as Yossarian's Liver.
One thing I have learned from my repeated exposures to Big Medicine is that Big Medicine doesn't like it when you come in there all knowing what you've got and uppity and all. As I've said in the past, if you go into a doctor's office and tell them what you think you have, they will make up their mind immediately to never ever treat you for that thing and will probably use that little ear-light thing to inject your brain with test DNA they cooked up over lunch just to see what happens. That is almost certainly a real thing that doctors do, in my mind.
So I at least never tell the doctors what I think is wrong with me. My entire job in a doctor's office consists of two tasks:
1. Act like I couldn't possibly have any clue what's happening to me even if I saw it happen, like, for example, let's say you were in your backyard with your kids and spraying them with a hose because it was hot out, and you upset a nest of bees you didn't know was there and you rescued your boys from the bees without them getting stung at all because YOU ARE A SUPERHERO FOR CRYING OUT LOUD but you got stung 17+ times yourself (your wife will say it was 16 in the future but you will want to be very clear that it was "at least 17" and that "there may have been more" because while 16 is a lot, 17 is more but sometimes you also think maybe 17 doesn't sound like that many bee stings.
Let's say that happened to you and you go into the ER because you're having trouble breathing. The last thing you will want to do is tell the doctor that you got stung by a bee and are having trouble breathing, because that doctor will then not be able to treat you for bee-sting-related-shortness of breath while he goes to search for the experimental DNA to load into the ear thing, and you will be told "Okay, you're free to go" just moments before you pass out on the stretcher in the ER (which, if you are going to pass out on a stretcher, is a good place to do it.)
2. Act as though I am going to die at any time and can't possibly focus on what is going on. This is pretty easy if, for example, you go to the doctor when you can't breathe, or are having a heart attack (which they will diagnose as heartburn and try to send you on your way, also, something they only do when they run out of Ear DNA) but it's harder to do if you just have a sore throat and cough and can't talk.
I knew those rules when I took myself and Mr Bunches and Mr F, all of us sharing the same sore throat, cough, and lack of voice, to the Urgent Care on Saturday morning, but I also knew this: just about two months before, there had been a run of strep throat through the boys' school, and I had gotten it. I had lost my voice and had a cough and had a sore throat, and the doctor who I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING said "You don't have strep" also gave me antibiotics (he didn't say why he was giving them to me if I didn't have strep, so obviously he was just mad that I'd told him (A) there is strep throat going around and (b) I have it, but he was out of Ear DNA) and I was better in three days.
So that Saturday morning, I took a calculated risk and told the receptionist and the nurse and eventually the two different doctors we had to see ("On Saturdays, we have the children seen by the pediatric unit," Doctor One explained to me, all but adding "It's our way of further dehumanizing this entire experience and ensuring that it's as long and tedious as we can make it.") that I thought we had strep throat, and that also we were leaving on vacation just as soon as they were done and gave us antibiotics.
That led to THIS EXACT EXCHANGE:
Doctor: [peering into my throat with a popsicle stick jabbing my uvula]: Why do you think you have strep?
Doctor [removes stick]: Your throat is very raw and red.
Me: [hoarsely]: I had strep about two months ago and it was exactly like this. There was a case of strep throat going around. Now I have those same symptoms.
Doctor: I don't think it's strep. But we'll do some tests. Did you say you're leaving on vacation?
Doctor: They'll take a little while.
|Mr Bunches at the pool in our first hotel. That blur behind him is not a ghost; it's Mr F, who mostly moves too fast for ordinary cameras to catch proof of his existence.|
The problem with admitting to doctors that you're not at death's door, that you might only have a bug that they can knock out with one of their wonder pills they have right in their white coats is that it makes them feel unimportant, I figure -- after all, other people get to wear white coats, like scientists who discover Higgs Bosons or pharmacists who [foreshadowing] will try to sell you a drop that supposedly prevents water from getting in your ear while you swim, which is clearly impossible but which has definite applications for avoiding Ear DNA -- and so if all they are is people who come in, hear that you have strep throat, and give you a pill, they start to think "Why did I even bother going to medical school? I'm just a pill pusher. Is this why my wife left me? How is this guy so cool, for a guy who has strep throat?" and they have an existential crisis in which they begin to despair that they will ever be played by George Clooney in a long-running TV series.
So it's far better for you if you can, while you have strep throat, sort of lie on the floor in a fetal position and gasp weakly, possibly having an aneurysm or spontaneously amputating your own leg, if you can, because that will make the doctor stop reading that Why You Should Join Doctors Without Borders pamphlet and instead work on you.
In the end, two different doctors looked at our throats and listened to our chests and looked in our ears and made us wait in those little rooms which wasn't at all the punishment it was supposed to be because I'd brought my Kindle and so we played Plants vs. Zombies while we waited.
The fact that we were not dying in a heap led the doctors to conclude that they needn't bother doing anything about us, and they sent us on our way, saying that if the other tests came back positive for strep they'd "Give us a call," and with that, we decided to embark on a new career as modern-day Typhoid Marys and spread our message of goodwill and strep virus across America.
But first, we had to pack the car, which by now you have guessed was not the minivan we thought we had rented.
Sweetie had gone back to the rental place. She had that morning called up our credit card company and had arranged to electronically transfer enough money to pay the entire balance, so we had this credit card that had all kinds of credit on it and more than enough, at that, to rent two, maybe three minivans.
But when Sweetie and The Boy had gone to the rental company, the same girl -- who by this point was making it glaringly obvious that it would be a cold day in Hell before she let Sweetie take this minivan -- was again uncooperative, the difference this time being that the credit card company was imposing it's own arcane rules on her, too.
So what the credit card company told Sweetie she needed was the exact amount that the car rental would cost; Sweetie had to tell them, to the penny, what the car rental agency was going to charge her.
Sweetie, for some reason, thought it would be best to get that information from the car rental company, mostly because Sweetie was still under the impression that the car rental company was in the business of renting cars. So the car rental company told Sweetie it would cost $982.17 for the week, and Sweetie, like a sucker, believed her, and reported that to the credit card company.
Sweetie then went to the car rental company, where the car rental girl rang up her total and said "The total is $970.17."
And the charge did not go through.
Because it wasn't the exact amount. Sweetie called the credit card company and asked the problem -- with the car rental girl right there -- and they said it had to be the exact amount and this was $12 less.
So Sweetie, in desperation for something in this story to actually work, said to the car rental girl:
"Can't you just charge me twelve dollars more?"
But the car rental girl, who could have made $12 extra dollars that day, decided to live by the Apparently Very Strict Code Of Honor That Binds Girls Who Sit Behind Desks In Sears Automotive Centers, declined that bribe, and the entire transaction fell apart, resulting in me and The Boy sitting behind Sweetie's car in our driveway trying to figure out how to fit a minivan's worth of stuff into Sweetie's car.
|Main Street, Metropolis, IL, at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning.|
Here is what we were packing into the car for our vacation:
My laptop case.
My small case containing my Kindle Fire.
A case of all the cords and chargers for all the stuff we were taking.
Mr F and Mr Bunches' Ipad.
The Boy's suitcase.
The Boy's laptop case.
A bin of Mr F and Mr Bunches' favorite toys in case they missed them while they were in Florida.
A bin of Mr F and Mr Bunches' favorite snacks in case they don't sell the right kind of Cheesy Puffs and Cracker Sticks in Florida.
A foam mattress pad that would serve as a spare bed for Mr F and/or Mr Bunches in the hotels because Mr F doesn't like hotel beds and sometimes sleeps on the floor in hotels.
A suitcase for Mr F and Mr Bunches.
Another suitcase for Mr F and Mr Bunches. ("Really?")
Approximately 14,000 suitcases for Sweetie including a plastic bin that included a hair dryer.
A giant pink hockey-equipment sized bag of makeup, face cleansers, cold medicine, cotton swabs, and various and sundry other things.
Plus, we were taking us, but we were optional.
To pack the car, we used a time-honored system I like to call "Is this breakable?" To use that system, you pick something up and consider whether it is breakable. You can do that in a variety of ways, but the best way, I've found, is to ask a question: Is it yours? If it belongs to you, it's breakable. If it doesn't, who cares?
Once you've sorted out the breakable from the unbreakable stuff, you pack them: If something is breakable, you put it on the bottom of the cargo area and stack things on it after first putting pillows all around and over it.
If a thing is s not breakable, you wait until you have packed the car impossibly full of breakable things, and then you pick up armfuls of the unbreakable things (i.e., things that belong to someone who's not you) and cram them into the car as fast as you can before slamming the trunk door shut and thinking to yourself "I hope we don't have to open that again EVER."
With that done, I announced that we were READY TO GO.
"Let's hit the road!" I said.
"The boys have to go to the bathroom before we leave," Sweetie said.
10 minutes later, with everyone in the car, I announced that we were again READY TO GO.
"Let's hit the road!" I said.
"We have to stop and get gas," Sweetie said.
10 minutes later, having spent $57 on gas and repacked everyone into the car, I announced we were READY TO GO.
"Let's hit...," I said.
"Do you think we should get something to eat on the way?" Sweetie said.
And so, at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, which is at least 6 hours too late to miss Chicago Rush Hour Traffic, with a car packed to the gills (cars have gills) with medicine and Play-Doh Dentist Playsets, and all of us holding McDonald's lunches, we set out on our vacation!
|This is a city, as seen through our windshield. I'm not sure what city, except that I know it's not Chattanooga because it's not ugly enough.|