You know, it has come to my awareness that anyone at all visiting my parents’ house should get an Airborn cocktail and a sprinkling of Lysol upon exiting the premises. There is always, always sickness here. It’s unreal. Before I had temporarily moved back in with them this year, nearly every time I’d visit for a weekend, at least one of these people—up to all three—would be ailing. I frequently consider whether this house is cursed, the antibacterial Dial soap dispensers are haunted, or merely our particular genetic coding is meant to die out. Perhaps it’s the perfect storm of all three, and some day the entire lot of Hofer hearth and home is meant to collapse into a Biblical-level of plagues.

“And on that day, Walgreen’s closed its doors in mourning, and the pharmaceutical world wept bitter tears.”

I very much used to be part of this state of perpetual malady before I had moved away from home, continually falling to this flu and that cold, this infection and that bacteria. So, since moving back in here at the beginning of January, I’ve been particularly wary of anyone in this house who even sniffs in an odd manner, let alone gives up a cough or a pained expression of some sort.

And it’s not like my family doesn’t continue to hand me significant challenges. Currently, due to a minor back injury (see previous two posts), I’ve spent the last few days laying on their living room couch, first atop a bag of ice, and then atop a much friendlier hot water bottle. And meanwhile two out of the three house-dwellers have once again taken ill, parading around me with Kleenex all weekend. I have been handed beverages and pills from these people, all the while knowing that the people doing the handing are harboring millions of nasty little germs that would love to claim another weakling. But I was hurting, so I tried not to move too much. So far, I have sat in the bacterial lion’s den and haven’t gotten bitten. So far. Quick—everyone reading go knock on wood! Both of you!

How have I evaded this illness so far? Actually, how have I—a member of this group—managed to have avoided internal bodily calamities for generally the last half year? (Note: I’m not counting frequent migraines, asthma-related issues, or the odd cough and sniffle.)

Well, I’m not entirely sure. My best guess is that I appear to have managed to escape it so far this season by washing my hands roughly 45 times a day (by roughly washing my hands 45 times a day, too), a maneuver I highly recommend to anyone whose hand skin has grievously insulted them in some manner, since this will certainly kick the ever-loving crap out of it (if not beat it within an inch of its life). Who needs hand skin, anyway? However, if your hand skin has not offended you in some way, I really only would prescribe this for people like me—people who seemingly just have a wad of gum and an old “IOU” in a prevailing deity’s handwriting where their immune system was supposed to have been placed.

I don’t know precisely what’s kept me from falling subject to the wrath of family microbes, but I’m going to try to ride this out as long as I can. Now if I could only have a similar talking-to with my muscles and bones, I might be on track to becoming a normally functioning human being.

But then there’s always that pesky psychological factor. Hmm. Must hammer out the details a little more with my superego.

Until then, here’s wishing you (and me) good health!

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Picture this: laughter, gaiety, pleasant company, delicious dinner on the floor, Nerf darts flying through the air, giant piles of bean bag-esque dealies to sit on—a generally lovely night all around. Queue temporary anoxic nightmare. Queue emergency room. Queue nothing. Somewhere a doctor at Edwards Hospital retreats to his/her office and admires his/her own face in a solid gold plate before delicately eating a decadent truffle off it. At least that’s how I picture it.

Alright, so you tell me where the money went.

I am having an evening with my darling male escort at the home of a few of his friends about two months back. His friend is cooking us a superb dinner (which we will then eat, charmingly, on the floor. Having grown up in a home that was additionally a daycare in the basement during my formative years, I have an affinity for floor-eating, so I am in my element). The food being prepared far outweighs my abilities in the kitchen, and so I volunteer triumphantly to take the little Pillsbury crescent rolls out of the tube and arrange them on the pan. The ones I do look like multi-layered and variously sized sticks. Huh. Not sure how I pulled that off, but at least it does not affect the taste. We eat, all is right with the world.

After about an hour and a half eyeing their cat, whose name is Tribute (as I’m told, he’s not the greatest cat in the world), my cat allergies begin to overtake my fragile little body. Massive asthma attack (oh yes—I am asthmatic, too. My mother did not breed genetically superior progeny?). No uses of my inhaler (17 puffs in about a half hour will give you the shakes, child) will take it down. I inform Darling Male Escort, who since dinner has been engaged in a lovely Nerf dart gun fight with others, that I’m just a touch out of stuff like oxygen and seem to be getting worse by even the minute. I am trying not to panic; I feel like possibly Pavarotti has popped a squat on my chest. Knowing that Pavarotti died recently, I can be reasonably certain that it’s an asthma issue and I need to go home. I pop a Benadryl that the lady of the house is wonderful to provide me with, and we are off.

Alright, strike that “home” business. We have now left the house 5 minutes ago, and I cannot catch a breath. I am panicked and coughing, and I’m concerned I’m going to lose oxygen and pass out. To the ER, Jeeves! Step lively, step lively.

So, Darling Male Escort quickly gets me to an ER, where they promptly put the Swine Flu prevention mask over my mouth—my mouth which already cannot get a breath. Thanks, guys. One of those cruel to be kind things, I wager. Hack, hack, hack, cough, cough, wheeeeeze, as a mask sucks itself to my face like gauzy kidnapping gag tape.

I am then wheeled to an ER room and given a gown and a bed. I am already feeling a little better, breathing better, certain I won’t be passing out at least. Darling Male Escort and I wait for a doctor or a nurse or something. Someone to get my information. Someone to give me a nebulizer treatment, or even just half-assedly pretend to read my blood pressure. We wait for an hour.

An hour when you are unable to breathe due to environmental causes will accomplish one of two things—1.) you will die, or 2.) you will entirely recover. I’ll break the tension here: I did not die.

No, in an hour, I got entirely better. Apparently the Benadryl kicked in, and that was enough to stave off the allergy attack, which effectively released the stranglehold on my asthma issues. Let me tell you, gentle reader, one begins to feel a little silly lying pitifully on an ER table in a gown when the doctor comes in to find you a rather lovely shade of flesh-colored, no longer wheezing or coughing, and you tell him “Hey, um, so about that breathing. All better. Uh, thanks for all your negligence; how did you know it would be just the ticket? Amazing.” You feel silly because it’s actually the truth.

Ah, well. I collect my humiliation up to use at a later date, reconstruct my previous outfit onto my newly oxygen-occupied body, returning my hour-long hospital gown to the bed, and Darling Male Escort and I ease on down, ease on down the road back to his place so’s I can sleep it off. And as I drift off to sleep in a happy haze of Benedryl, Tylenol PM, and Xanax, a cynical thought occurs to me—I sat in an ER for an hour with no treatment whatsoever. I bet this is going to cost lots of money.

I had no idea. I received the bill this week in the mail. I got charged $22. I do not think I received $22 of service. I mean, I rented a gown that doesn’t close in back and a bed without a blanket from the hospital for an hour, but I’d probably only consider that to be worth about $10. And no tip! Bastards never checked up on me. Hey MD, you got other tables to serve here, guy.

But $22 was nothing compared to what my insurance company got billed. $850! Let me repeat that—they had to cover $850!! How do you people sleep at night? Aside from, clearly, on 1200 thread count Vera Wang Egyptian cotton sheets. With people fanning you and feeding you grapes. Goodness. $850 (plus $22). For a bed, for an hour. Whores charge less, and they at least make sure you leave the bed smiling.

Jesus. I hope that ER bed is rent-to-own, or someone might have been screwed here…

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nerd girl

Dorkiest thought ever?

I just thought, “Ahhh. There really is nothing like a brand-new inhaler.”

Yep, that’s me. The rebel. Rebel without a breath. *pushes glasses up*