Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Lake Inside

Coffee smell and lilac skin….we’re listening to Jeff Buckley's "Everybody Here Wants You"...everybody here thinks he needs you….Talk amongst yerselves…

OK, here we are. Apparently my love for my beloved Cimino (pronounced Shemina) Bay is symbiotic, because as I intrepidly crossed it’s liquid Hope Diamond depths on a daily swim, with a varying troupe of fellow swimmers——including swimmer emeritus my cousin Carolyn, my sister T, Moira, Eve, Chris, Mike, Nick, MZA, Joe, etc.--a wavelet lapped into my ear, causing a dual infection and trapped liquid in the inner sanctum.

I went to the crack team of docs I go to—ear nose and throat specialists—because I am just THAT sort of prima donna who always goes to a specialist. Just that sort. These specialists are listed in Washingtonian magazine’s Top Doctors issue, which is like Hypochondriac Porn. Love it! Except it can be faulty.

When I had strep throat back in March, I went to this crack team and the doctor looked at my ravaged throat and said it’s not strep but I’ll take a culture anyway. My sister T, like many people in my family, is an unlicensed doctor and she said it's strep and to hell with it. And she and the culture were right. Dr. Crack was wrong.

So this time I thought I’d be crafty and not go to Dr. Crack but a different member of his team, surely another doctor who would be the reason they were listed in Washingtonian’s Hypochondriac Porn edition.

Dr. D did not look promising, as he looked like the jerk shuffling in front of me in college for four years, knock-kneed and headed to the gym to shoot some hoops, but surely not like a guy off to med school to learn the fine points of aural maintenance honorably enough to analyze the delicate inner workings of my fluid filled head.

I saw Dr. D on Friday, wherein he gave me a spectacular misdiagnosis—a dermatological “problem” in the ear canal caused by my skin’s reaction to a resident mold. Ew! Dumbass. I said, "But there is drainage and I think there is liquid in my inner ear," (I am also an unlicensed doctor) and so he grudgingly blew some stupid black tube in my ear and flashed a bulb and determined that no, there was no water in there. You sure? Yes he was sure and he had a blond med student there that he was far more intent on impressing anyway.

Saw him again on Monday and he realized that there was water in there. Quack. I resisted the urge to ask him where the hell he went to med school. He said, "How did you feel after I treated you the first time"—he had extracted some wax and thought that should cover it—the equivalent of phoning it in in the ear nose and throat world. I said, “It felt like you hadn’t gotten to the root of the problem.” Things were going great!

He said he was going to send me for a hearing test. I was like dude, I don’t need a fucking hearing test to tell me I can’t hear. I am deaf! I am Johnny Belinda! I told MZA this morning, “Now you are my ears!”

He was getting peevish at this point and said I could get a second opinion if I wanted. Oooo, you know when you’re getting into Huffytown, doncha? All doctors say it is absolutely positively your PEROGATIVE to get a second opinion and they don’t mind, but THEY DO. Especially men doctors. It’s all penis related. Like, I’d like to get a second opinion that you really DO have a small wanker. That sort of thing.

SO he said he could drain the ear with a puncture—gasp—or I could take steroids. Of course I said I didn’t want to take steroids but asked what would be the best approach, as if he would know, and he said the steroids because that is the second method of medical phoning it in—prescribe inappropriate strong weird internal drugs to treat a problem instead of directly addressing the problem in a medical arts fashion.

So like the lame-o that I am, I opted for the drugs because I have a double infection and he said it would be better, bla bla bla. I took the steroids yesterday, with visions of me morphing into the Incredible Hulk and bursting through some scenery or something, and then I got really really nauseated and I read the side effects. Don’t EVER do that. It said, if you experience “coffee ground vomit or black stools contact your physician immediately.” I sure as hell felt like I was going to experience coffee ground vomit momentarily, both from reading about it and from the heave inducing drugs coursing through my innocent body. I try to keep my contaminants organic, as in wine. As Carolyn says, “It’s natural! It’s a fruit!”

I took a shower and was feeling covered with that clammy horrendous chilled feeling of perfect nausea. Nausea freaks me out more than almost anything. So you’ve got the vertigo from the inner ear disaster abetted by the sinister steroids. I had to take another one this morning, so I am trying to beat the clock before it kicks in today.

The upside of inner ear vertiginousness, mixed with a horrible pharmaceutical cocktail, is that you have to leave work early so as not to puke on your colleagues or your phone. So I came home and lay in bed like Camille in my muffled padded seasick world. A loss of one sense is supposed to make your other senses more acute. It has only served to dull all my senses in unison.

When I felt well enough to wade down the stairs, I watched the clear-eyed Judge Roberts face his questioners. It was kind of fascinating, but my favorite part was everyone tossing around stare decisus. Seriously, what a beautiful Latin phrase. Who is this Starry Decisus anyway? It sounds like a Tennessee Williams character. I watched him; I watched him dodge the abortion questions; I watched Diane Feinstien doing a bang-up job, even though I am sure most women younger than I don’t have any idea why she is peppering him with those questions. Because Roe v Wade has been so protected by stare decisus all these decades.

I was impressed with him, even though I kept nudging myself not to be. But the plain fact of the matter is, it’s stunning to be in the presence, if only through TV, of someone with such raw and blatant intelligence. Intelligence is usually a liability in the States, hence the stubborn adoration of our Commander in Chief, that’s the only way I can explain it. But when you see someone like Roberts or, say, Clinton, it’s pretty humbling. To see them respond extemporaneously on such a wide array of topics.

I read this op-ed piece by Ellen Goodman a coupla weeks ago that I meant to put here about paying attention and listening. She said in this hurried technological world we have lost the ability to listen to one another and that in the future paying attention would be the coin of the realm. I want to inhabit that realm. Where doctors and politicians listen and answer thoughtfully.

In my deaf world, the loss of sound, especially peripheral ghostly nuanced noises, has left me feeling empty and queasy. We need to hear the hushed sounds all around us, in order to respond effectively and meaningfully.


Cynicism is another word for reality

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