Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's all fun and games until someone trips over their pee bag...

Flashback to two weeks ago:  

I'm at the hospital, hanging out in the waiting room, waiting to get a pre-surgery ekg.
I'm extremely annoyed.   I'm annoyed because I have to get an ekg, I'm annoyed because I'm having to sit in the waiting room for over an hour because the hospital can't find the order.  I'm irritated because there are gross people who may or may not have Ebola wandering around aimlessly coughing in my air space. I'm ready to bitch slap the old lady spewing mucus and phlegm every 8 seconds while she hacks up a lung and loudly discusses her bowel habits with her gal pal from the senior center who can't hear her and keeps asking her to repeat herself.  Most of all, I'm super fucking pissed off at the elderly man who walked in carrying his urine sample in his hand, sat next to me, and then set his exposed pee container on the arm of the chair separating us.
Seriously, who does this?  Who pees in a bottle and then drives to the hospital carrying it in their hand?  Who wouldn't put it in a bag, or have their (much more compassionate than I would be) wife stick it in her purse?  Or, I dunno, buy a man purse for urine toting purposes?   There are thousands of options, all of which make more sense than carrying your pee jar in your hand and walking around in public with it.   I mean, why not just wait until you get to the hospital and pee there??  That's what I always do.   Then you just stick the pee in the slot next to the toilet, wash your hands, and go your merry way.
I sit there, actually seething with rage over how little thought and consideration Urine Sample Guy put into this whole pee thing,  and kind of want to burn my arm off when I get home, just in case some of his pee germs escaped the jar and landed on my skin.  I'm contemplating all the scathing things I'd like to say, only I don't want to risk opening my mouth just in case there are vapors or something.  (Other people's pee is not to be trusted.)

This hospital waiting room is literally my interpretation of Hell, as brought to you by my Karma, who thinks it's funny to put me in these situations and watch me slowly but surely lose my shit.

Or so I thought, until this week when Karma decided to up it's game.

I have been bitching about Urine Sample Guy since the moment it happened.
Urine Sample Guy prompted 27 text messages, 6 phone calls, several Facebook posts, and numerous retellings every time I encountered someone who needed to hear the story and express outrage with me.
Urine Sample Guy has made appearances with me at the hair dressers, the grocery store, the bank, the post office, the local market, work, a team meeting, a family get-together, and at the doctor's office when I was asked if I'd gotten my ekg.   He showed up at the hospital in the recovery room when I felt compelled to tell the recovery nurse about the trials and tribulations I'd had to overcome on my road to surgery, and possibly even during my operation, which may explain the fat lip I can't figure out (more about that later).
(Okay, I'll tell you now:  I came out of surgery with a fat lip that looks like I went a few rounds with Mike Tyson.  A week later and it's still puffy and sore.  The fuck?  It was vagina surgery.   Wrong end, assholes.)

Urine Sample Guy made a huge impact on me because who the HELL wanders around carrying their pee?  Just out in the open, in public, in your bare hand... WHO FUCKING DOES THAT?

Urine Sample Guy was almost my last straw.

(Fortunately, shortly after he sat his pee bottle next to me, my name was called and I left the room before my head shot off my neck and I beat him with my chair, but the potential of what could have happened stuck with me.)

A few days after the ekg/pee bottle incident I had a complete hysterectomy, during which they removed all of my internal lady parts, including my cervix (noteworthy, because for some reason I didn't realize they weren't leaving that behind.  My knowledge of female anatomy is woefully ignorant.  When I asked the doctor why she took my cervix she looked at me as if I were stupid, which it turns out I am, and said, "Because it's part of your uterus, which we took out..?"  Huh... who knew?  Everyone but me, apparently.)

One of the perks of surgery is that you get a morphine pump, which is super awesome (except for the part where it makes you feel like it's 7000 degrees and millions of bugs are crawling all over you).   I happily pushed my little button which sent trickles of morphine surging through my veins and left me blissfully unaware of all the other tubes and things that were performing services for my body that I usually handled on my own.
Several hours after surgery the nurse popped in and told me I had to get up and walk around.
"No problemo!" I sang, and made some random moves to try and hoist my ass out of bed.  (In other words, I laid there like a slug and wiggled my toes.   This is not an effective means of removing oneself from one's bed.  FYI.)
At that point I realized I had a tube inserted into my nether regions that was draining my bladder and more or less (more) peeing for me.

"Do I have a catheter?" I asked, even though it was obvious I did.

"Yep!"  replied Nursey Nurse, who gets mad props for bringing me bottles of iced tea when I cried over the orange Jell-O and chicken broth they brought me for dinner.  (Orange Jell-O?  They're kidding, right?)  "We will remove it tomorrow and make sure you can pee before we can send you home."

*queue generic movie music for impending doom*   Dun dun dunnnnnnn...

Me:  "What do you mean, make sure I can pee?  Why couldn't I pee?"

Her, perkily:  "Oh, sometimes we need to send our patients home with a cath after this type of surgery.  Because of the swelling, bruising and trauma to the urethra or because the mesh is too tight we can have some problems passing urine.  Don't worry, worse case scenario we teach you to self-cath and you would do that yourself for a while."

Oh HELL no.


I stressed about that in between pumps of morphine, and found myself grilling every nurse who came in to check on me about how frequently patients had to go home with a pee bag.  (Coincidentally, my vital checks went from every hour to every three hours.  Hmmm.)
They had different stories and didn't seem to want to talk about it, so I took to the internet, which is always a great idea when you want to find out worse case scenario for medical issues.

As it turns out, everyone on the internet has never peed again after the exact same procedure I'd just had.

I texted my sister, my sons, my friends, and my husband about the possibility of not being able to pee.   My sister sent me back horror stories about people she knows who didn't pee for a month (I love my sister)  and I obsessed into the wee hours, vaguely remembering a story I may or may not have heard about how that's possibly what what may or may not have killed my father's mother, until a nurse came in at 4 a.m. and told me my morphine and my catheter were going bye-bye at 5, so I needed to start clicking that little button before they took it away from me.

(I was distracted for the next hour by clicking my morphine pump every 10 minutes.)

Promptly at 5:00 (the only time they showed up when they said they would, by the way) all my tubes were removed.  I was given a jug of water and encouraging words that I'd better pee by 11, or the catheter was going back in.

I gave it my all.

I didn't pee by 11.  

I used my bitch voice on the nurse, so she extended my pee cut-off to 12.

I didn't pee by 12.

I refused to cooperate at 12 so they gave me until 1.

I didn't pee by 1.

At 1 my tears, my tantrum, my threats and my begging did not deter the nurse from her duty.  Catheter went back in while I sobbed like a big fatty cry baby, discharge papers were drawn up, and I was rolled out of the hospital on a double-wide wheelchair, like the ones you see on My 600 lb Life, which was like adding insult to injury and probably a pay back for being a pain in the ass, over staying my welcome, and being a bitch to the staff.   (Mea culpa, really. You guys were amazing and it's only partially your fault that I couldn't pee.  Honestly, if you'd never told me I wouldn't have stressed so hard about it and it might have been a non-issue.  Or not.  We'll never know now, will we?)
Also, my wheelchair pusher was an old dude named Chuck, who literally rammed me into every wall and door and hit every bump as he huffed and puffed in my ear and hustled me out of the hospital.
As he pushed me up to my mother-in-law's vehicle waiting curbside, he managed to get the wheelchair tires stuck in a giant crack in the sidewalk and almost dumped me out, right there, on to the cold, wet pavement.  Instead, he knocked the pee bag out of my hand and on to the ground, and ran over it.
He then backed up, announced "You dropped your thing," and waited for my poor mother-in-law to get out of the van, walk over, and pick it up.

(Chuck is an asshole.  Don't be like Chuck.)

That was the beginning of my long journey into the 7th Circle of Hell.

The catheter and accompanying pee bag have been hanging around for a week now.  Every attempt to pee on my own has been unsuccessful, and between the crying, the emptying, the discomfort, and the despair, I've found dragging it around not only humiliating, but also challenging.

I've tripped over the tube, stepped on the tube, had to stop the cat from pouncing on the bag and batting it around, didn't clamp the nozzle on one very sad occasion and dribbled pee from the bathroom to the kitchen, hooked it to my pajama bottoms and inadvertently pantsed myself in front of an audience.

And then yesterday, I had an epiphany.

I was walking down the driveway, getting some fresh air.  I kept hearing something that sounded like someone dragging a tarp across pavement.  Every time I stopped walking and turned around too see what was making that noise, the sound would stop.  I was getting really pissed, thinking one of the neighbors was messing with me.  (My neighbors are jerks.)
I walked faster and the sound got louder and closer.... so I whipped around without stopping.
And that's when I realized I was dragging my pee bag behind me, like a sad yellow shadow.
And right that second it occurred to me:

I am Urine Sample Guy, only on a grander scale.

Karma:  56,864

Dani:  0

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Call Girl Confessional

First things first:  I did not have sex with Charlie Sheen.  I've never spanked a millionaire or made a Republican senator call me mommy while I changed his diaper and told him he was bad.
And I know you're disappointed in me, because that sounds like a secret I might have.

(As am I, because that would be far more lucrative and interesting than what I actually do.   There comes a point in every woman's life where she hears about a call girl who is sleeping with a politician and making $10,000 a pop and says to herself, "I could do that...")

(Yes you have.  Don't lie.)

As a child, I had lofty dreams of being a famous actress/veterinarian.   I would perform on Broadway on the weekends and save animals during the week.  I would be a great humanitarian who had one of every breed of dog in my mansion and my own dressing room with a star on the door at a famous stage somewhere (I was rather vague as to where the stages were.  I more or less thought Broadway was a building where people performed.)

After I grew older and wiser (and lazier and discovered I was pretty and boys liked me) and found out that vet school took at least 8 long years, I decided to just be an actress who happened to own a lot of dogs.  My goal became less "Broadway" and more "National Enquirer."

Between one thing (pregnancy) and the other (life) that dream got away from me  (obviously) and some how, in some way, I wound up in New York working at a call center for a major corporation.

(Believe me when I say I was just as surprised as you are.)

(I know, right?  The hell?)

Don't get me wrong... I enjoy my job, mostly because I enjoy eating and living indoors.  I also like my co-workers, love my supervisor, and overall, don't hate every customer I talk to.
For the most part my customers are polite, friendly, reasonable, and want one thing and one thing only:  to lower their bill.
I'm cool with that.  I get that.  I don't want to pay more for something than I have to.  I use empathy (sometimes.... though it has been pointed out to me that saying "I know, right?" doesn't count as empathy).  I'm helpful, I work my magic and tada!  Bill is lower, we're chuckling about something amusing that I said, we're making plans to meet up for cocktails, we're besties forever.  (Not really.  But the vibe is there.)


There is always that one customer.

You know the one I'm talking about.

That one. damn. customer.

They come in different forms, that customer.  They can be mad and screaming about an imagined discrepancy in their billing, and even after you've explained it 473 times using graphs, hand gestures, smoke signals and words of one syllable, they still don't get why their bill is that high.  So you break it down as simply as possible (and even preface it by saying, "So I'm gonna break it down as simply as possible for you, Bob" and then hope that this is not the call that is pulled by quality control) and say, "Your bill is this high because of math.  When we add these numbers together, and you've agreed that all those numbers are correct, they equal this amount.  Would you like me to hold while you get a calculator?"

To which Bob responds, "But why is my bill so high?"

Me:  "Math, Bob!  It's math!!  Do the math!"  (But only in my head.  In real life I say, "Let me go over this with you again, Bob..." and Bob says, "It's not adding up.")

(Don't be Bob.)

There is the customer whose demands are so ridiculous that you have to mute the phone repeatedly so you can look at the person next to you and say, "What in the actual FUCK?" because those words need to be said, and you're afraid you are going to say them to the customer.

Newsflash:  If you can't afford to pay your bill, then you probably can't afford the attorney you are threatening to hire so you can personally sue me for informing you of the terms and conditions (that you signed and agreed to) of your contract.  And yes, when I offer to add your imaginary lawyer as an authorized user on your account, I am being a bitch.

You might be surprised by the number of people who believe we can control the weather.  (Or not... if you work in a call center you are actually reading this and nodding your head.)  On one hand, it is a bit of a power trip to know that people think I have that close of a connection to the Almighty.  They demand to know what we are going to do about the snow/rain/wind/tornado they are having in their area that is interfering with their service.  They have been transferred three times because none of the previous representatives have been able to perform a miracle.  By the time they get to me (yes, I'm that person at the end of the road) they are so enraged by the apparent incompetence of my peers that I have to listen to them complain (scream, swear) about how much of their time has been wasted because no one will just "flip a switch" and fix it for them.  Because that's how nature works.  It's a switch.  A big switch.  And if you don't ask me nicely (which you never do) I won't flick it for you.
So I'm all, "Let me place you on a brief one to two minute hold while I get Jesus on the line."
Okay, I don't.  Well, I do, but I mute the phone first and say it to the person sitting next to me.

So I listen.  I reach deeeep within myself for patience and empathy (I knowwwww, riiiiiight?).  Then I explain, again, and again, that we cannot control the weather or give them free service because of their debilitating sense of entitlement.  At this point they lose their shit and hurl their abuse through the phone and into my headset.  I'm supposed to say, "I'm sooooo sorry, I completely under your frustration."
(I usually don't say that.  What I usually say is "Uh huh.")
They say, "Aren't you going to fix it??!"
And I say, "I really wish I could, but it's against our policy to interfere with Acts Of God."
And then my eyes roll so hard in my head that I'm temporarily blinded.

I could go on for days (and I will... which is why I have a blog) but I will cut it short (for now).  I just need to give an Honorary Mention to the "Let me speak to your supervisor" customer.  (Because I had two of those last night.)

If you are that person, stop it.  Unless you have been treated egregiously by a representative, were sworn at, called names, or told to fuck off, there is literally nothing a supervisor is going to do for you that I can't.  I do not spend my nights waiting for you to call so that I can piss you off and refuse to help you.  Dispense with the belief that supervisors are sitting on stockpiles of cash that they are dying to throw at you because you didn't get your way.  Your case is not special, your circumstances are not unique, and if I can't waive your early cancellation fee or all of your back charges because you didn't want to pay your bill, neither can they.  When I say, "I understand your frustration but transferring you to my supervisor is not going to resolve this for you," believe me... because there is nothing I would rather do than stop talking to you.  Trust me.  TRUST. ME.  I WOULD LOVE TO LET SOMEONE ELSE TELL YOU NO.

Whew.... venting.  It's awesome.

Until next time...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The clumsy life chose me.

I'm clumsy.  I know it, you know it, strangers who have seen me crash and burn over a small pebble in a parking lot know it.  If it can be tripped over, fallen off of, bumped into.... I will find a way to do it in the most painful and embarrassing way possible, with the largest audience available to witness my shame.  (My Shame always has witnesses.  Always.  If I fall down while crossing the street, which I have, it is always in front of a school bus filled with horrible children or a prison bus filled with inmates.)

I was the kid who always had a bruise, a scrape, an open wound or stitches.  I used band aids as an accessory.  (Sadly, my options in the 60s and 70s were limited to Flesh Tone  or Darker Flesh Tone.  No Disney characters or Pixar pals back then... we took our bandaids straight and rocked them with panache.)

My parents thought (hoped, prayed) that I would outgrow it, start paying attention to what I was doing but alas, that has simply never happened.  (Chalk up another way in which I have disappointed my mother.)  I have no idea what I'm thinking about that is more important than whatever act of mobility I am currently engaged in, but obviously it's very crucial that I focus on that rather than walking.

Long story short, I'm kind of a train wreck, and not the Amy Schumer version who has sex with strangers because John  Cena just isn't quite enough for her.  



Typical conversations in my life go like this:

Dan:  "How did you get that giant cut on your elbow?"
Me:  "I banged it on the tampon disposal thingy in the bathroom at work.  I was worried I might get something gross like chlamydia or herpes so I dumped a bunch of hand sanitizer all over it and I haven't died yet, so I'm pretty sure it's all good."

Dan:  *kissing me on the top of my head*
Me:  "Ouch!"
Dan:  "What's wrong?"
Me:  "I slipped on a dryer sheet while I was doing the laundry and fell down and banged my head on the washing machine.  I may or may not have been unconscious for a minute, I dunno.  I went to sleep later and didn't die so I'm pretty sure it's okay."

Dan:  "How did you get that huge bruise on your shoulder?"
Me:  "Oh, that?  I was leaning out of bed trying to reach my water bottle on my night stand and I underestimated the distance and fell off the bed.  I didn't land on the dogs or anything breakable and after lying there for a few minutes I was able to get back up, so I figured it was fine."

Dan, in a letter written in all caps and littered with exclamation points, placed prominently on my coffee pot for me to find when I got out of bed:  "DANI!!!!  IT IS VERY ICY OUTSIDE!!!  WEAR BOOTS WITH TREAD AND BE CAREFUL!!! I MEAN IT!!! IT'S DANGEROUS!!!!"
Me, texting back indignantly:  "I'm pretty sure I know what to put on my feet when it's icy out, Dan.  I'm not stupid.  Seriously."
Me, 5 minutes after shooting off my annoyed text:  *taking the dogs out while wearing slippers and instantly plummeting knees-first onto the frozen tundra that used to be my front steps*
Dan, later that same day:  "Why are you limping?"
Me:  "I dunno.  I'm old.  I think I have a bad hip."

My youngest son, Brennan, has inherited my unfortunate tendencies.  In his lifetime he has escaped death by mere inches without even really trying.  He's like Mr. Magoo, wandering obliviously through life while pianos and anvils drop from rooftops and 15th story windows behind him.

Last week we were talking on the phone when I heard a loud crack and bang coming through the wires from his end.
At the same time as I said, "What was that?!" He yelled, "Mom!  You will not believe this!"
As it turns out, seconds after he had walked under a tree, a giant branch broke off and landed right behind him.  He was a little shaken up (not dramatically so, as things like this are not entirely unheard of in Brennan Land) and asked, "Mom... why am I so unlucky?"
Me:  "Did the branch hit you?"
Him:  "No..."
Me:  "I personally see it as that you are very lucky."  
(Of course, he had a broken hand at that time because he was helping a friend get rid of a computer.  I'm not sure of the details but apparently it involved breaking things, including Brennan.)
Him:  "How am I lucky?"
Me: "It's like, when I see a hearse and I'm not in it?  I'm like, WINNING!  Score one for the Dani Girl!"

I have injured myself stupidly and painfully so many times that the only explanation can be that Karma is amused by my antics.  (Or maybe I pointed and laughed once too often in a past life at some poor soul who biffed it in a big and public way, which is entirely possible.)

Years ago I broke my finger because of the stupid dog.  It was the middle of the night, she was barking her ass off, and I got up to find her standing on the dining room table barking at the curtains.  I reached out (somewhat forcefully, not gonna lie) and rather than getting anywhere near the dog, I banged my hand on the corner of the table and broke my middle finger, which was ironic, considering how I felt at that moment.

And then there was the time I opened the closet door one night and my rarely used iron flew out and dropped like a ton of bricks, landing on the top of my foot and crushing all the little bones in there, which, in case you were wondering, are tiny, fragile, and numerous.  (This is my reason for never ironing.  Thank you, Dryer Sheets, for saving my life.  It's not because I'm lazy, it's because I'm cautious.  And might have PTSD.)

I gave myself an actual concussion opening the freezer.  I was talking to Dan (friggin' Dan) and turned to look at him at the exact same second that I pulled open the freezer door.  I smacked myself so hard on the side of my head with the door that I burst a blood vessel in my eye and knocked myself out.

Then there was the night I broke the toilet at my in-laws house, which endeared me to them forever.  (Just ask them, they'll tell you.)  I got up in the middle of the night to pee.  I had taken an Ambien and was wearing earplugs because of the snoring machine that is my husband (in other words, what happened next is not my fault.)   I wandered sleepily into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, only to be knocked entirely off balance and have my bare ass plunging the depths of the icy cold toilet water.  I frantically struggled to pull myself up, with the lights off, earplugs in, and drowsy from the sleeping pill.  I couldn't quite grasp what was happening until Dan burst into the bathroom (quite dramatically, mind you, because my husband is something of a drama queen) and turned on the light.  I looked down and saw water gushing out of the shattered toilet bowl and apparently creating a dazzling waterfall through the ceiling and into the kitchen below.
It was a proud moment, standing there with wet feet, pajama pants puddled at my ankles, and the entire family looking in to see what had happened, while Dan over-reacted and made a huge deal out of it.
(Silver lining:  As far as I know there was nothing disgusting in the toilet.  Also?  As it turns out this entire incident could have been avoided if my jackass nephew had put the damn seat down.)

You all know the story about how I stabbed myself in the ass with a steak knife and almost bled to death, so there's no reason to repeat that one.

It doesn't surprise me anymore when a baby bird lands in my hair or I step in the one hole in the yard and break my ankle.  

Nor does it surprise any one else.

I called my mother last night to let her know about an upcoming surgery I am having later this month.
I had a brief moment of self-pity and said, "How come this stuff only happens to me?  You and my sister breezed right through getting your period, childbirth, and menopause.  And then there's me.  Debilitating cramps, endometriosis, long, difficult, almost fatal labors and deliveries, and now this."
Mother, chuckling:  "Oh, honey... why on earth would you expect anything to be easy?  It's YOU."

Silver lining:  I'm never boring.  And Pandas are my spirit animal.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Left My Shame In California

This dazzling ensemble is what I wore to the post office this morning.  I literally rolled out of bed, threw on an ugly, stained, ratty sweatshirt, stuck my feet in my boots (I'm not even wearing socks, yo... because I'm a rebel.  And I couldn't find any within a foot of where I was sitting), ran my fingers through my raging bedhead, got in my car, and went.  

I even went inside, talked to the post office lady, smiled at a few old people, and gave zero fucks.

As I was driving the half mile home (shut up, it's raining.  Not that I'd walk if it wasn't, but still) I had a brief moment of clarity:  Dude... you have completely left your Shame in the dust.

Shame is hanging out at the beach right now drinking Starbucks and eating a scone and I'm in upstate New York wandering around in public in my jammies hating on Dunkin Donuts.  (Seriously, it's gross.  Weak-ass coffee, greasy sad donuts.  Toughen your shit up, Dunkin... I want my coffee to taste like coffee and I want a damn maple oatnut scone.  And green tea that is actually green... but that's a complaint for a different day.)

(And then I totally forgot what I was talking about.)

I felt wistful for a moment.  I remember Shame.  Shame was that voice of reason that made me shower every day, shave my legs in the winter time, do my hair, and put on pants.  Shame walked behind me and nagged me until I put on a bra, ate my vegetables, and reminded me not to announce "That's bullshit!" every time I disagreed with someone.  Shame gave me a filter, helped me shop, and reminded me I wasn't invisible when I had an itch that needed to be scratched in public.  Shame would have advised me not to sit in the open hallway at work and pick carrot cake crumbs out of my cleavage.  Shame would have been like, "Gurl... PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU."  Shame was my bestie, that friend that let's you know that you've had enough to drink, you can't dance, you can't sing, and you do, indeed, look fat in those pants.

In hindsight, Shame is kind of a bitch.

After moving to New York I kept in touch with Shame for a little while.  I made an effort when going out in public.  I kept my thoughts and opinions (mostly) to myself, I put on pants before leaving the house.  I worried about how my ass looked in those pants, was self-conscious about my muffin top, and cared if people liked me.

Then it occurred to me:  I don't know anybody here.  Not one single person gives one single shit about how I look standing behind them in the grocery store.  They don't care if I'm fat, they don't care if I'm nice, they don't care if my knees are growing bangs or if I go home and cry because I have no friends.  I am completely anonymous, there isn't a chance in hell that I will encounter anyone I know.  Not one.

(Also?  Depending on where I am at a given time, it wouldn't matter what I had on... I'd still be the most fashionable person there.  Thank you, Amish people.  *fist bump*)

It's incredibly freeing to not give a damn.  I rock my jammy bottoms and my Bear Paws, I wave hello to people who don't know me (and don't want to), I call bullshit on the masses when duty calls, and I've become mildly feral.  (Am I wearing a bra under this sweatshirt or am I not?  Only my boobs know for sure.  In case you were wondering, the answer is usually not.)

I'm good with that.

Don't get me wrong... I do wear clothes to work.  I make an effort with my hair and makeup.  I'm polite to customers and only declare bullshit when my phone is on mute (so far).
Long story short?  I don't miss Shame.  When I go back to California to visit we'll probably hang out... we'll have drinks, sing karaoke, and I'll be properly embarrassed in the morning.  And then I'll return to New York with no regrets.  None.