Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nnekay Goes to Kaiser

A few days ago I went to the hospital.

Not in a OMGYOUAREDYING sort of way, more like a "crap, I need to check this weirdness out".

Last week, I started getting pains under my left eyeball. I thought it was nothing, but during a dramatic after work ramble of exhaustion to my roommate, Heather, I flamboyantly mentioned the pains of my eyeball while theatrically covering it with my right hand. I expected her to calmly shrug off my pleas like she normally does to my insanities, but instead she looked tensely at me, and suggested that I at the least call a nurse for advice. Not expecting this reaction, I became a little more worried than dramatic and dialed the advice nurse. After 30 minutes of smooth jazz I found myself trying to explain my problems... which out loud sounded SO. LAME.

Me: um... under my left eye... it hurts.
Nurse: is it red?
Me: no.
Nurse: does it hurt when you move your eye around?
Me: yea... uhh... no.
Nurse: are there bumps on or around your eye?
Me: ew...no.
Nurse: is your sight tinted with red?
Me: no.
Nurse: swollen?
Me: no.
Nurse: Discharge?
Me: no.
Nurse: Vision worse?
Me: no.
Nurse: Yea, you should probably come in and see a doctor.
Me: What?!

She explained that eye pain around the muscle could be bad, so the next morning I made an appointment to have some random doctor poke around my face.

Kaiser is a large looming type of multi-building complex in the middle of Downtown Oakland. When I was circling the parking lot the large colored numbers representing each floor brought back floods of memories from when I was a sickly clumsy child. I had a folder the size of an dictionary due to my frequent falls and gangly limbs that were prone to breakage. As an adult, I suddenly realized how expensive I was as child.

When I initially called to schedule my appointment the receptionist who clearly hated life and all humanity, delicately placed the fear of God in me, when explaining that I could not be late:


As a result I was 45 minutes early.

Sitting in the waiting room, I thought to myself, "this will be fine- you brought a book and you have your fancy new iphone."

Twenty minutes into checking my Facebook News Feed for the 50th time, a mother and her two sons showed up. One kid was probably 11 or 12, still kinda dopey kid style, but starting to get that teenage grossness about him. The other was a bald little warrior of a three year old. He had on a rad sweatsuit and a wild flair in his eyes. The mother exhausted tried to wrangle the warrior, but he being the brute that he was, freed himself and went running wildly around a group of chairs. He kicked, screamed, jumped, swatted, and finally a full battle cry complete with two arms fisted into the air. Just looking at this kid my eye throbbed. He didn't stop for a full 20 minutes. Until the doctor, a mild mannered man with a gold pinkie ring emblazoned with peace signs poked his head out, looked directly at me and said, "I think... I'm looking for you." I sighed for once in my life I would love it if I actually got to experience a doctor or nurse come into the waiting room and say "Nnekay FitzClarke, please" instead of the:

"err... um... fitz...clarke...ah...um..."

I followed the gentleman into his exam room which was filled with so many gadgets I half expected a beaker with bubbling green fluid tucked in somewhere. I sat down on in the clinical exam chair, and after some mild chuckles he placed my face in a vice sort of thing and began to poke around my eyeballs with a long q-tip... oh excuse me cotton swab.

This started the water works.

As he poked around, my eyes began to pee all over my face- I kept apologizing,

"I'm so sorry... I dunno why my eyes are doing this... I'm so sorry.. oh my god... I'm so sorry."

Which I now believe is possibly one of the lowest moments of my adult life.

He paused and muttered, "Ooooo, I see some swollen glands chuckle chuckle chuckle. Let me get a squeeze. This might hurt."

It hurt like a bitch, which cause real tears... I guess... my eyes were a constant stream as soon as he started harassing them with that damn q-tip. "Yes," he continued to mutter, "There seems to be a waxy toothpaste-y type substance coming from your glands... you have an infection."

Yes, dear reader like you... I almost barfed.

He gave me a prescription for some meds and I fled, leaving Mr. Stabby and his pinkie ring behind.

The waiting room for drugs was drab... even though it was filled with windows. After going up to the counter a woman with a spiderwebby hairline informed me that it would be a 30 minute wait. She was definitely trying to convince me to leave, but I was tired and my eyes were pointing in different directions, so I figured a 30 minute wait would do me well.

Five minutes later my name was called.

I sighed and went to grab the small bottle. As I was walking away, some young baby of a man decided it would be an appropriate time to approach me... perhaps to invite me out to an elegant dinner,

"EH!! Lil' Miss, EHH! Lemme talk at ya for a minute."

I have to say, I've been approached in some random spots, but a hospital pharmacy has got to be the worst. I mean I could be picking up swabs for the exploding sores on my ass... we're all here cause something is wrong with us... call me picky but I probably wouldn't be looking for a future bedroom companion at this joint. So I continued on, he wasn't even worth the "I HAVE A MAN." defense.

As I descended down the spiraling stair case to freedom, I heard a faint, "shit, you ain't gotta be so rude..."

I laughed as I entered the warm sunlight.


  1. The next time some idiot hits on me - and I'm not on the subway - I'm totally shoving my finger as deep into my wide nostrils as possible. Or - if NO ONE else is around - I might consider pissing myself. #classy

  2. It's called the Ida Friend Infusion Center
    at UCSF
    On the 5th floor
    it's busy
    a lot of hustle bustle
    nurses and small clear plastic tubes
    dripping drugs into veins
    while the sunlight streams in from the blue sky

    Constant beeping as the intravenous bags empty
    Some of the sick reading
    some snoring
    some listening to ipods
    while many loved ones sit nearby
    keeping them company

    Yesterday was the worst
    A mother and daughter
    perusing upscale real estate magazines
    million dollar homes in Marin
    their haughty faces cold and appraising
    i wonder what man created them
    what was he like
    i imagine a real bastard
    as i watch her scowl and frantic empty eyes
    searching the glossy full page ads for trinkets
    to complete an amputated soul

    Another odd couple
    a wife dressed in orange and black
    like some pixie grandma with an electrified wig
    flittering around with hard candy lemon drops
    my husband and i have been together
    since the 4th grade she says
    52 years
    he is the best man in the world
    god told me so

    Oh that's just wonderful the other ladies exclaim
    Our husbands are wonderful too
    they coo
    it's like an idiot convention
    her husband just sits there grinning like a fool
    i'm looking around for the vomit bags
    and wondering just how high
    they plan to shovel this shit

    Finally the nurse comes in
    I'm saved
    Mae has her headphones on so she doesn't hear
    any of this nonsense
    thank the fucking gods

    When I see the nurses here
    I always think of you
    they are incredible human beings
    many take the time to explain things
    with the clarity and patience of saints
    we learned how to give Mae an injection yesterday
    to boost her white blood cell count

    These meat machines we walk around in
    I feel the bones
    the muscle the fat the organs
    all pumping and churning and humming
    imagine what aliens from other planets think
    when they see us all puffed up
    and full of ourselves

    The Alaris Medsystem III 2863 infusion pump
    drips the Paclitaxel into her blood
    through the plastic port in her chest
    she smiles
    and holds my hand
    chewing on the rolled baklava from Falafel King

    I quietly read her stories
    from the 2006 Best of SciFi by Gardner Dozois
    While the wrinkled baby boomers
    are politely annoyed
    and mutter euphemisms about
    how if the Giants beat the Rangers
    it's like sticking it to Bush
    fucking are you kidding me

    An hour later it's over
    and we walk out into the beautiful day
    And the trees say it's ok man
    some of these meatbags will feed us soon
    just be you