“This cannot be happening.” I was staring at a bloody tissue that I just took out of my ear. I also stared at the swollen muscle in my forearm. I threw the tissue away and popped 800 milligrams of ibuprofen.
“What are your plans for today? Do you want to head to the market with me?”
Yeah. I should probably do a thing. I still can’t believe this. I was so close. So close to being done with it. I sat down and began a Google search
“Blood coming out of ear.”
Cancer. Also perforated eardrum. Hmm…
“If your eardrum had burst then you’d know.” Josh explained.
“Yeah well, I’m not in that much pain. And I can still kind of hear. I’m okay, right?”
“Yeah like, I think your body is just dealing with that infection you had before. It’s just cleansing itself.”
Yeah. My body is doing me a favor. It’s working properly. It’s a champ. I’m definitely going to the market. And you know what, I’m not going to see a doctor because eff that. I’m done with doctors. I am fine. I’m totally fine.
Josh and I took an Uber to Mission Beach and I got myself a free coffee. I chatted with Mackenzie and was feeling pretty good. Soon we were on our way to the ferry building with a wad of cash and plans to get ramen. I chatted with Tommy, I called my mom. She also thought it was something minor. Like, everything is all connected there, so it’s reasonable to think that this will run its course in a day or so. Besides, I was feeling fine. I even decided to walk home. After I finished some delicious ramen, I was off. One ear-bud in, cruising down Market street on a sunny day. No problem.
It wasn’t until I got back to the apartment that I started to get uncomfortable. Like, lots and lots of pain. And then it hit me: I wasn’t feeling any pain before because of the 800 milligrams of ibuprofen I took for my wrist. I. am. an. idiot.
It hit me all at once. Excruciating. I was frantically Googling free clinics and my head was throbbing. I called an appointment-only clinic just in case they had something available. Unfortunately they did not. I then sprinted to the free clinic a few blocks from my apartment to try and get there before they closed. I was met with chains and padlocks on the doors. I stood there for a few moments, taking it all in. So much pain. Crack heads walked in front of me, behind me, they said things to me. I just stood there in shock and pain.
I said out loud to myself: “I should go to the hospital.”
Then silently answered myself: “No, you cannot afford that. Just go home and take more pain killers and deal with it. Who knows, maybe it will go away tomorrow? Yeah, okay.”
I made it home, immediately took another 800 milligrams of ibuprofen. I laid down on Zach’s bed fully clothed, shoes on and everything, and waited. Why is this happening to me? I have been in such a state for days and days and I found myself slipping into these daydreams where someone was sitting on the bed beside me, and just had a hand on my shoulder or back. The mere thought of human contact brought me to tears. And so I just cried silently until I fell asleep.
This morning it wasn’t better. I went to the farmer’s market and barely made it home without crying. I sat down and really contemplated my situation.
“I should probably go to the doctor.”
But I really don’t want to. My insurance from work doesn’t kick in for 90 days, which might as well be an eternity at this point. But I should do something. As I mentioned in my Brief Medical History, my concern is that I have a ruptured eardrum caused by the staph infection I had. It’s the only things that fits my symptoms, and it’s the only reasonable explanation. If that is the case, it will require me to go on antibiotics, which I am quite unable to take because I’m literally, deathly allergic to antibiotics. I am afraid. I don’t want this news. I don’t want to see a doctor. But I have to because there is no other option.
I decide to take a walk. I end up at Lush (because I was probably subconsciously going there the entire time). I’m convinced Lush exists to remedy bad days and celebrate extremely good ones. I leave with a rainbow and glitter bubble bar because I just can’t think of anything better than. When I get home I call the clinic.
“Are you in any pain?”
“Well, not right now. But I did take a lot of ibuprofen earlier so it’s hard to say.”
“And you said there was blood?”
“Hold on, please.”
“Can you come in today at 2:45?”
“Uh, sure. I mean, is this something urgent. Should I be worried?”
“No, I think the doctor doesn’t think this will take very long so she can fit you in.”
Well that’s good news right? I’m feeling better about this. Things are looking up. I cab over to make sure I make my appointment on time and after an hour in the waiting room I finally see a doctor. She asks me to start from the beginning, and I tell her the whole story. I start with January 1st and I’m crying, again, obviously.
“Wow, you’ve had a really tough month. 2014 hasn’t gone so well so far has it?”
No, wait. That’s not true. Things are awesome actually, everything except this. Except that my body is betraying me every chance it gets, despite being as healthy as possible. I try to explain this to her, but she’s right. January hasn’t been going very well. I mention that the irony is not lost on me. She asks me to describe my lifestyle. I tell her I don’t drink or smoke (anything), I walk between 3-6 miles every day, I am vegan (the good, whole-food kind), I take vitamins, I exercise, I don’t put anything on my skin I wouldn’t eat. This is all just some horrible cosmic joke at this point.
“Well it does look perforated, and infected. I would say you’re right and that it was due to the staph. Let me get my resident and she can take a look just to be sure.”
“It’s a really good thing you came in to see us when you did. You know that right?”
“Yes. I know. Thank you.”
She made very direct eye contact with me. I could tell she was feeling sorry for me. I allowed it though because I was also feeling sorry for me.
As soon as she shut the door I threw off my glasses and buried my face in the crook of my arm. It’s done. I can’t believe that is what happened. The worst-case scenario. And that’s when I decided I was so desperate, I might as well post a super ultra-needy cry of desperation over social media about needing someone to just come and hug me. I regret nothing. I knew no one was available. I knew I would be alone the entire night, but it was important to me that someone at least know that I was in need of this. It was the best I could do. I was helpless. I was alone, on a cold table, getting bad news. I was scared. And there was no one there but me.
She returned with her resident and I was examined a second time.
“Unfortunately, you need to take this antibiotic. The thing is, we are currently out of stock and there is a shortage. It’s expensive, but we will try to help you as much as we can, okay?”
“Ok.” I’m terrified.
“There is no reason to believe that you will have a reaction to this. Of course we can’t be 100% sure until you take it. But, it’s the only thing we can do right now. If you don’t treat it well…you run a lot of risks there as well.”
“It doesn’t sound like I have much of a choice, do I?”
“No, you don’t.”
Hoping for the best
It’s not so much that all of this was happening. I don’t really want to be told that it’s going to be okay, or that the money isn’t a big deal. I know it’s going to be fine. My course of action is clear, all things considered I’m taken care of. I know I can deal with it. I’m an adult and I’ve probably gone through worse. It’s just that, I have been so relentlessly sick with one thing after another for and taking care of myself for a solid month. It’s really getting to me. I really do just want a hug and to cry on someone. As incredibly hackneyed and melodramatic as that sounds.
I left the doctor’s office and got on the bus, the first bus that stopped. Messages were pouring in from my embarrassing status update. I decided to hop off early when I noticed that I was at Divisadero and Hyde. I grabbed my stuff and realized I didn’t have my wallet so I pried the doors open (practically) and found it on the floor. God, could you imagine? I just sat on the sidewalk in disbelief for a moment. Thinking of what could have happened had I not realized it when I did. It was settled, I was going to take comfort in The Mill after all. I actually didn’t think I had time, but I decided to prioritize this experience I had been looking forward to all day, because of the terrible state I was in. And to celebrate not losing my wallet on SF public transit.
I asked the guy at the counter to give me something vegan that would fix the worst day. He told me he knew just the thing and charged me for that and a coffee. I didn’t even care what it cost. He ended up bringing me a thick slice of wheat toast with honey, almond butter, pumpkin butter, and a pinch of sea salt along with my favorite coffee.
This was definitely the closest thing I’ve had to a religious experience with food. I was suddenly okay with my solitude. I realized that I should take this opportunity to get better at dealing with things on my own. After all, it’s not like I am truly alone. There are so many people who love and care about me (as evidence by my phone blowing up so much it ran out of battery). This wasn’t so bad. I was going to be okay. I had my coffee and toast and a way out. It may not have been cuddles, or a hug, but the effect on me was pretty damn close.