Hear Me Out


June 23, 1998


I've been experiencing acute bouts of health lately. First, just for kicks, I had my hand operated on, and then I decided to have my semi-annual eye exam -- always a laugh riot. If I have much more contact with the health industry, I am going to scream until I bust a vessel in my head.

To begin my adventure, I paid an orthopedic surgeon to cut open my left hand and fool around. Orthopedic surgeons are the car body repairmen of the medical community. Their tools look remarkably like the stuff I buy at Home Depot. Things like glue guns, hammers and when they get really crazy, little saws and cordless drills.

Speaking of Home Depot, I should mention how my hand was damaged in the first place. Leslie decided that we should build a retaining wall in the back yard. When I say "we" I of course mean the royal "we". The same "we" Leslie uses when she says things like, "Why don't we take out the garbage?" Or "We need to go out and pick up the dog doo." To get the stuff, I went to the store and bought the concrete blocks. On the way home, I stopped to adjust the blocks because I thought they were precariously stacked. Turns out I was right. One of them dropped about 20 inches directly on my left hand.

To repair the damage, the doctor and I fooled around with cortizone shots and splints for almost a year. He'd fill a syringe with something like 5 gallons of this stuff that looked like nonfat milk and then stick the needle through my hand and pump it ALL in. I bounced between pain, burning pain, total numbness, no pain and then back to pain in about a month every time he did this.

After about a year of this foolishness we, meaning me, again decided that this was ridiculous. I met with the hand surgeon, and set the date. The surgery was fine. I watched for a while, until the knife actually made me bleed, and then I had a little nap. When I woke up I was in someone else's pajamas, I really had to pee and my hand hurt like hell. I got the nurse to take the IV out and went to the bathroom, shuffling like a 120-year-old lady with a bad case of gout.

I must have been peeing for about 10, maybe 15 minutes when I realized I was also bleeding. The IV hole hadn't quite closed up so I was gushing like a stuck pig. I felt fine about it, though. The drugs were so relaxing I barely mentioned it to the nurse when I walked back to bed.

"Feel better?" She said, not looking up from the chart she was writing in.

"Yeah. Oh, I bled a little in there and it doesn't seem to be stopping." I held out my hand as drops of blood puddled on the floor.

We got that all straightened out and I spent the next ten days at home. The first few days were fine. I woke up, took some pain pills, wondered around in my sweats (no bra), read books I now have no memory of and waited for the next pill. I got a little ripe around the edges from not showering. After the pills ran out (those damned doctors are catching on to us junkies and only giving us enough for a few days) and I realized how bad I smelled and started joining the human race again.

With my hand in good condition, I thought I'd try some other sort of self-inflicted torture. I went and had my eyes checked. It's something I like to do on a regular basis. So, when I can't see the TV and have to squint to see the freeway signs, I take my ass down to the eye doctor.

Ophthalmologists are all the same. They are bored with you and the repitition of their job. They pull that Darth Vador lens machine down on your face and just start right in with the flipping and turning.

"Better like this or this?" He flips the little lens, turns something that makes everything fuzzy. "Better 1 or 2?" Flip, turn. "2 or 3?" Flip. "3 or 4?" Flip and sigh.

By this point I'm almost blind from focusing and re-focusing and I know the best is yet to come, so I start picking random lenses.

The climax to this whole experience, at least for the doctor, is putting in the eye drops. You know the ones I'm talking about. They feel like liquid fire and after a few minutes you can't focus on anything and the shine from the whites of your eyes reflecting off the inside of your lids is blinding. So, just as you are at the peak of light sensitivity, they lull you into security by sitting you in a dark room. Then, when you relax, they shine a magnified, high intensity, bright white light right in your eyes and tell you to look straight ahead with your eyes wide open. Because you fear going back to the Darth Vader machine, you do it.

Just to top off the experience the nurse gave me a pair of "sunglasses" to wear for the rest of the day. I should have suspected something was amiss when she handed me the small tube with that huge, maniacal smile on her face. The tube was about the width of a toilet paper spindle but much shorter.

This wicked torture devise was a pair of wrap around, reflective, plastic eye shades that fit under my regular glasses. At first I refused, knowing how goofy they would look. But then I went out onto the streets. My eyes burned and my sight was blurry and the sun was burning holes into my corneas. I decided to throw coolness to the wind and put the damn granny goggles on. There I stood, eyes watering, in the street with a little tube of sunglasses in my hand and no way to read the fine print that explained how to open it.

I was finally able to gnaw the damn tube open and put them on. Thankfully they filtered out the killer rays from the sun. The problem was that everytime I caught site of myself in a store window or the rear view mirror of my car and I'd rip them off only to feel my eyeballs start to sizzle like bacon. I spent the rest of my day with them on and trying desperately to avoid reflective surfaces.

Next week I'm joining a gym.

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Copyright 1998 by Laura Jiménez.


Updated 07/08/98
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