I cancelled everything

What I saw: Friday, I felt something itchy and found a tick on my leg. I was driving to Pilates. Somewhere near the church where I voted, I pulled it off and dropped it out the window of my car. I think that afternoon a tick began a comic book about a superhero arachnid who gets superpowers from biting a woman with a lot of energy and ideas. They named her the Amazing Woman-Tick. She wears 8-legged yoga pants and cusses.

What I did beforehand: walked the dogs in the woods. Because that’s where I live.

What I wore: Sweaty Betty yoga pants, Lululemon top, grippy socks.

Captain asks, “WHAT DO?”

Who went with me:
an audiobook recording of Tom Ryan reading his book about his dog, “Following Atticus.” Recommended for dog owners and hikers. Books about dogs are always sad, and this one has sad parts, too. 

How I got a tick: I walk my dogs almost every day.

Why I saw this show: because life is unfair.

Where I sat: driver’s seat.

Things that were sad: I have gotten good at pulling ticks out of my dogs, so I know how to do it so their heads don’t come off.

Things that were funny: I went in the kitchen at one point and found that Captain had stolen the butter off the counter and left it in his kennel.

You can’t blame the doll this time.

Things that were not funny: I had a busy day on Monday, with a mammogram first thing and several other appointments. By the second appointment of the day I was feeling weird and dizzy and out of it. Nauseous, even. I woke up on Tuesday with a very unhappy belly, but went to my riding lesson because riding usually makes me feel better. I had a tough lesson; my horse could tell I wasn’t 100% and took advantage of it. It was as close as I’ve come to crying in a lesson in a few years. I went home and got in bed. 
Schwartz thought it was glorious. When I woke up three hours later I took the dogs on a zombie-shuffle walk down the road and back up the road. I convinced myself that I needed to go to the doctor, and I hadn’t yet gotten around to getting the everything-but-the-lady-parts kind of doctor. I logged in to our medical insurance  company website and picked a doctor based on how close a practice I could find. Then I watched four episodes of “The Crown” on Netflix and slept another seven hours.


On Wednesday I woke up at the normal time and texted 19 to ask him to walk and feed the dogs. I starting sending more texts to cancel my Wednesday things. I saw a Tweet in Chinese about my husband planting a tree in India and decided I should go watch more of “The Crown.” My phone rang and it was the guy who was supposed to do some noisy work on the property tomorrow and he wanted me to know they had a change of schedule and were coming today. The trucks were rolling down my driveway before we finished our conversation. They left after dark.

I ordered some groceries to be delivered tomorrow, and this is something I am bad at anyway but I am especially bad at when I don’t feel good. And I really don’t feel good. I think there is some oatmeal coming, but no tapioca pudding because they didn’t have it. Maybe I will have to make rice pudding for myself if I can summon the energy for the stirring. Probably, that won’t happen.

In the afternoon, I went to the new doctor hoping to get a Lyme test and a prescription for doxycycline. The doctor was very nice, and completely certain that it was the wrong kind of tick because I wouldn’t have been able to pull out a Lyme tick in the car. Or something like that. He gave me a boyishly reassuring smile and said that I should let him know if I’m not better by Friday. 


Something I ate: a satsuma. A bowl of white rice.

What it is: a couple of sick days.


Who should see the Crown: people who stop watching shows because of unnecessary rape scenes, those who were disappointed in the historical inaccuracies and extravagant melodrama of Downton Abbey, but appreciate castles and posh accents and clothes of a bygone era, connoisseurs of love stories and tales of the burdens of responsibility, fans of triple strands of pearls. 

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What I saw on the way home: potholes filled to the rim with rainwater, because in my town the dirt roads are highly prized. When the colder weather comes, the water will freeze, white and flat, and the ticks  

I had my annual

What I did: went to the doctor for the yearly lady parts inspection.


What I did beforehand: dreamed.






What I wore: the jeans I found on my closet floor, collapsed into a pair of conjoined denim rings; enormous gray-brown I-can’t-even sweater.

Who went with me: my iPhone, which is a SE, which is like 6 guts in a 5 case, which I got because I broke my 6. 

How I got on the schedule: every year they have you address a postcard to your future self, which they mail in 11 months. I am often perplexed by the arrival of a postcard addressed in my own girlish printing. The postcard is a reminder to call for my next appointment. The calendar in my phone could also do the reminding. Like, I have an entry on November 16th of every year to order a 16 lb. turkey.

Why I saw this show: I would like to think that submitting to the yearly lady parts inspection will keep me from succumbing to a preventable lady parts illnesses. 

Where I sat: on the table, with the paper dress opening to the front. 

Things that were sad: I had to put a couple of 1s on the questionnaire (pictured below), but when my doctor and I discussed it, she said a lot of her patients are reporting all 3s. And canceling appointments because they can’t bring themselves to show up. 

Things that were funny: when I’m at the doctor I always take off my clothes in a very bizarre order like my bra before my shirt like I’m changing into my swimsuit in the car or something and then I snap out of it and feel obliged to try to tidy my clothes on the chair like oh you know I can’t leave them in a weird inside-out heap like I’m at home because the doctor might think I’m a nut job and but so I’m rolling clothes like that’s actually folding. The only reason my shoes come off first is because they always weigh you. Everything seems new and unusual every year, even though I’ve been around since the 60s and this visit was awkward but entirely predictable. I managed to make it like I’m 8 years old at my first sleepover or something. Also, I attempted to exert my will on the situation and kept my socks on even though the nurse said to take everything off.

Things that were not funny: last year at this appointment, the doctor ordered an ultrasound and I had a very memorable and unpleasant experience involving a tired technician who couldn’t get anything to save, an impatient and imperious doctor stuffed into a three-piece suit with a lavender shirt and enormous gold cufflinks who was not my regular doctor, a discussion of things in my body as if I weren’t a sentient being present in the room, and an unanticipated and abrupt encounter with Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s favorite government mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasound device. 

Something I ate: the second to last bagel when I got home. There’s a strip mall near Bedhead Hills with a decent bagel place with a Jewish name and flirty Latina women behind the counter who call me “Sweetie” and make me glad I stopped by.

What it is: probably too much information already.

Who should see it: no, actually. I took a selfie in that pink paper gown and it’s so very remarkably terrible I’m not including it.

What I saw on the way home: it started to rain again.

Cat Panic: Part 2

The next day, I woke up after having hit the snooze button on both alarms. I had to rouse The Battlefield and deliver it to school by 7:28 am. I had to rouse the Middle Child and deliver it to the train station by 8:24 am. I had to rouse the dogs and walk them up and down the driveway. I did the dishes, fed the cat, and looked at my arm.
Was it even puffier than the night before?    Was it turning red?
It certainly was very tender. None of the wounds themselves looked like anything, but my left arm was painful and swollen.
I cancelled my plans and called the doctor.
Of course, having only moved here in September, I do not yet have a cat-bite-doctor. I have a women’s-parts-doctor, and a dentist, and a dermatologist. I called the Middle Child’s internist’s office. I explained that I had an animal bite on my arm, and that it was swollen and painful, and I wanted to get it looked at that day so I could avoid going to the emergency room.
The nurse on the phone replied, “You need to go to the emergency room.”
To me, the emergency room is for people who were run over by a car, the kid who fell off the monkey bars and broke his arm, the rider who came off her horse, the sous chef scalded by hot oil. You know, emergencies.  “My cat bit me yesterday” is not an emergency, it’s a thing to take care of, today if possible. But not an emergency. An emergency is falling off a ladder, it’s a venomous snake-bite, it’s a tornado, it’s a heart attack, it’s a stabbing. Yesterday’s cat bite is a stupid emergency.
Northern Westchester Hospital (which I passed three times the day before without realizing) is doing some construction in its parking lots, so when you go to the emergency room there these days you get valet parking. Hospital administrators everywhere need to know this important thing: valet parking at the emergency room is the best thing since sliced bread, since the germ theory of disease, since the agricultural revolution, since Skype, since the birth control pill or even since the invention of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.   You drive up. You’re having an emergency! Hurry! You are greeted by a fellow who opens your door, and in exchange for your car he hands you a valet ticket.  You can even leave it running.
Inside, the Northern Westchester Hospital emergency room has a huge waiting area, with chairs for at least 75 people by my estimating glance. Behind a counter sat two pleasant, cheerful staffers, one of whom took my name and summoned a nurse. I sat in a chair and started to wonder how long the wait would be in a suburban emergency room at 9:30 am on a Tuesday. I never got to finish wondering, because Tammy, the nurse, had arrived to take me to a room.
Mine was room 15, though the door never closed. Tammy took my story, my name, my vitals. She told me they were very busy and to be patient.  Within the next half an hour I had seen the nurse who gave me the IV and the doctor, talked about what happened, and heard about other people’s cats. It was agreed all around that cat bites are nasty, and decided that IV antibiotics were warranted. I tried to read the paper, but never really had time. I was out the door again by 11:30 am.
I still say it was not an emergency, and that IV antibiotics could be administered in a doctor’s office.
A day later, my arm was still sore but no longer as swollen.  The cat seems to have resumed a normal activity level, though his toes bother him noticeably.


When I was growing up, in suburban St. Louis in the 1970s, my parents took us all skiing in Colorado at least one or two weeks every year.  Typically, we would drive there in our Chevy van, which was royal blue, and had the innovative sliding door on one side, and had two rows of benches and a spacious back area. Whenever possible, I would chose the way-back, because it was here that a small child could sprawl out with her toys and play uninterrupted except for potty breaks for a 900 mile, 15 hour drive. It is a straight shot on I-70, right across the length of Kansas, and many years my father drove the whole way without stopping for more than gas or food.  My father loved to drive.

One winter, we were making our annual trip to Breckenridge, just on the heels of my younger brother recovering from the chickenpox. Chickenpox used to be a pretty common contagious virus, and predictably, one could expect an exposed child to come down with a case 10 to 21 days later. The new patient is pretty contagious for a couple of days before showing any symptoms, which are the itchy red spots all over the body. The older someone gets, the worse their case of chickenpox will be, it is said. It was not unusual in the days before the vaccine for parents to take a child with a brand new case and organize a play-date with children who had not yet caught it, essentially to expose the unexposed and get it over with.
I was allowed to pack all of my new Christmas presents for this trip, which was one of the most memorable things about the trip. Other memorable things I recall are the game of strip poker the parents played (which involved taking a lap around the cabin outside in the snow), how my 16-year-old uncle contracted a whopping case of chickenpox, but missed barely a day of skiing by wearing a knitted face mask on the slopes, and how I never caught them.
When my two older children were small, the chickenpox vaccine was a pretty new thing. Their pediatrician took the time to tell me about it before it was recommended for all children. I mentioned that while I remember being around other children with chickenpox as a child, I don’t remember ever having it. The pediatrician told me to get tested to see if I was immune, because if I wasn’t, I was the perfect person for the vaccine.
As it turned out, I had no immunity to chickenpox, and was given a full course of the vaccine, which is two shots about 4 weeks apart. Months later, one of my boys contracted a case when I was just a few months pregnant. Since I had older children, I did not spend tons of time pouring over the requisite “How-To-Be-Pregnant” books that time around, but I had retained enough from my first pregnancy to remember that chickenpox was one of a long list of things you were not supposed to catch when you were pregnant. Later, I greeted the pediatrician for the hero that she was. She shrugged.
A willingness to sit and have a conversation with me about family history, or sports, or calculus is, to me, a prerequisite for being a good doctor.  Recently, my family practice doctor retired. He wrote prescriptions for things like “TLC,” and took the time to talk about stuff in general, and not just health. He always had a joke for me, and once told me the one about the sad mushroom who walked into a bar.