New Faces

My friends and I, every weekend, we talk about how we might see each other. How we might do something. And every weekend seems to pass and that does not happen. We all have a very low virus tolerance. Indoor dining? No way. Indoor wine tasting? Not going to happen. Gathering inside someone’s house just to sit on the couch? Sounds lovely but it’s a no. We think about doing something outside. Anything. But it is pretty chilly (it was “feels like” nine degrees the other day). So we talk a good game and then it is Monday. And I have only seen my mother from a distance for like ten minutes and my son. He is the only person I always see. 

I had been running every day but I put my knee out right before Election Day and it is still not right. I feel like maybe I have a stress fracture on the top of that foot. My knee hurts and generally does not feel great. Running was the thing that was helping to keep me sane. And now it is off the table. I decided to go for a longish walk yesterday. I wore long underwear. A beanie. And two pairs of socks. Gloves and a scarf. Out of the wind, it was not dreadful. I like to be outside. Anyway, on the latter end of my walk a car passed and called my name. It was a woman who I met through church out practice driving with her youngest daughter (same age as my son). It was so nice to see a different person. We chatted a bit. It was lovely. I miss that so much. It felt normal. I have buried normal so far down. I can’t have it flitting about the surface because it makes me too sad.

Despite the pandemic, our library is still trying to offer services to the community. They have put cooking online and crafts can be picked up and done at home. One of the offerings this month was a writing class. I saw it in the email. It is online. The instructor is with the local community college that I graduated from with an Associate’s Degree a million years ago.  I stopped by the library to renew my card. They could only take the payment for class by check or cash. I stopped by the next day with my check. Made out to the library. I gave my email to the lady at the circulation desk. 

The class starts on Thursday. I am petrified. I keep checking my junk mail to make sure I have not missed an email that says that I need to do something, write something, before the class. I am afraid that I will need to provide some sample of writing. Some piece of me. I feel like there are so few pieces. And I have not been writing. Not writing at all. Maybe I can dredge something up that is older. But I was really hoping to use this as a means to force my hand. To make me write. To get something down. I am afraid that I will not be able to do that. I am afraid of being judged. Afraid of letting people in like that. Through my writing. In a way that seems very personal when compared to posting to my blog. Which seems much more anonymous. So much easier. But it felt like a good idea to do this. To tiptoe out of the bubble. My comfort zone. But I’ve paid. And I will be there. Because at some point I need to get out.

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What If

I have been stalking the NY vaccination sites for days. I wake up in the morning and try to see if I can schedule my mom, my aunt and my uncle. I plan my days around the top of every hour just in case that is the time when it opens up. I obtained pertinent information from my aunt, just in case I needed it to make the appointment.

The other day. I was doing laundry at my friend’s house. It is what I do every Wednesday. And I planned my driving to his house so I would not miss eight in the morning just in case. At some point during this morning, I checked the site and I think that it had the vaccination in the drop down menu, allowing me to set up an appointment. I can’t lie. I nearly fainted. I sort of hyperventilated. And almost passed out.I almost felt like I couldn’t do it. But I did. Or I thought I did. And I did it for my mom. And I did it for my aunt. And for my uncle. The menu prompted me to provide information on how I heard about the Northwell site. It asked for insurance numbers. It wanted me to take a picture of the ID cards. I did not have much of this information for most of my relations. The site assured me that I did not have to provide it.

I made them all. And I just burst into tears. I called my mom and told her to put it on her calendar. I called my aunt and left a message on her machine. Half crying. 

Once I had finished (all appointments on February 1st) I went back to the site to see what was available. And on the drop down menu, the vaccine was no longer there. And then, the doubt started creeping in. What if I just chose to make an appointment but it was not for a vaccination? The text that they sent me does not say what the appointments are for. They do not mention vaccines. I tried to call. The woman on the phone was super helpful. But she told me that she could only tell me about the appointments scheduled for today. She could not look and tell me about the February 1st appointments. She told me that I could find out on that day. I did ask if there had been vaccine appointments available today and she said yes. Hopeful? I’m not sure.

My friend kept telling me that I have made vaccination appointments. But I just don’t believe it. And that is me. That is me always questioning myself. The self doubt. Since then, I have been trying to schedule backup appointments, just in case. Today, for my mom, I got all the way through to the “register” part at one of the further sites before the page just crashed.

Then tonight, I received a text from a new number saying that they could not accommodate the vaccine appointment. I am hopeful that this was for the up island one that I made for my mom today. The back up one. Then I got an email cancelling my uncle’s one. For sure. The email was addressed to him. But it was the only email that it got. So I am hopeful that my aunt’s and mom’s appointments stand. But I am not sure. What if that text message was for one of those? I just don’t know. And just now, I may have made two appointments for March in Stony Brook but I don’t know about those either. The site said that the sending of my email confirmation failed and now there are no more appointments available. 

I admit that I called my aunt today crying to tell her that my uncle’s appointment had definitely been canceled. She was so great but I just want it to be scheduled. I want to know that they will get it. I think that it is harder because my son was contact traced out of school today. Yesterday he sat across from a girl at lunch who is positive. They were outside but he is quarantined at home until the 26th. And that means that I could be exposed if he does get it. We have no space to truly separate. My aunt kept telling me that I should not stress. But it was the sheer happiness factor in scheduling those appointments. That may have been taken away. And, right now, it sort of feels like, that is all I have. And that it has all slipped away.

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The Big Prize

Today is the day that NY opened up vaccinations to the next group. The 1b group. The group that includes those over 75 years of age. The group that includes my mom, my aunt and my uncle. NY has a site where you fill out a short form to verify that you are actually in the 1b group and then it will reveal where you can schedule the vaccine. 

I got on this morning and it took me a bit to figure out what I was supposed to do. The scheduling was not available until eight. When I did finally get the list of sites, the closest one was 64 miles away from my mom’s house. There were three others which were even further. I tried to call the one that was closest. For some reason it was listed as a realty company. Do they have a giant parking lot? So many questions. The line was busy. I took a breath and gave up. I figure that at some point over the next few days, closer sites will become available.

One of the health systems has information on their site for places in Riverhead (the largest, closest town to us). It almost looks like you can make the appointment. But you can’t. It is only listing today’s date. It says there are four available appointments. I actually had the site up and it looked as if I could have scheduled a shot for 6:45 this evening (it was like six). I briefly thought about just doing it. But there is no way that would have worked out. If it was just me. If I could have just jumped in my car and gone to get it, I would have but I am not 1b and would have had to convince my mom to hightail it out of her house. It did not seem feasible. So I let it go. And there have been no more posted.

I have been monitoring the sites all evening but so far nothing. Another local health system did send my mom (via me) an email saying that she was in the 1b group and that they would be “offering the vaccine to eligible patients over the next few weeks”. That made me feel better. But I am still going to try to schedule it myself.

I am also trying to schedule for my aunt and uncle. They are also in the 1b group. I told my aunt that if a vaccine drops in her lap, she should say yes. I may set up an account for the health system for her as well since that seems to be the way they are communicating. I feel like we need to have all avenues open.

I know some people who have received it. I know some people who may be considered “essential” who feel like maybe they are not. They feel a little guilty about it. Maybe they should. Or maybe they shouldn’t. I don’t know. I only hope that there is a way for folks to schedule without having to do it online. I am certain there is a large population out here that is not set up to do it. And while the process is vaguely reminiscent of trying to score tickets to a hot show, it is so much more. So much scarier. Some days it all just feels bad. Today may have been one of those days.

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Walking All Over

It was a walking kind of day.

I walked with my mom. We trespassed down the road of the currently empty property next door. There were two deer laying down in the woods. The female got spooked and stood to run. The male, sporting antlers, did not move at all. He eyed us leerily until we moved on. My mom told me that I should talk to her. This is still a thing that is more difficult than it should be for me. I told him that my son, since turning 16 years old, is going to start learning how to do different things at work. Like fry french fries. And cook burger. That was about all I could muster.

I walked with Joe. We went into the town closest to him and my mom. I do not think that I went there in 2020 at all. We did not go inside any stores but just strolled around outside. Went by the fancy tea place but they are closed till spring. One of the restaurants seems to be building a large outdoor deck, no doubt in preparation for outdoor eating resuming in the spring. The marina has two buoys at the entrance to the harbor saying that it is closed. The only boats around were the ferries running to Shelter Island. The only people not wearing masks were seated outdoors eating. My nose was running freely under mine. 

I walked with Joe and Mary. We went to the Audubon Society trail. There was someone with a really large pickup parked in the bow hunting spot. I have no doubt someone was bow hunting. We passed families. And a group of hipsters ended up following us on the way out. Perhaps not the best choice as we traipsed through mud (Mary’s shoes did not like that) and ended up having to walk on the main road to get back to the parking lot. On the main road, the people driving all seemed to be leaning their vehicles in towards us. Maybe it was our mask wearing that diverted their attention.

I walked with my son. I made him walk with me in the preserve that borders the far edge of the farm. He did not want to come but he did. I have that- I don’t feel safe as a female walking alone in the woods thing- even though it is ridiculously safe. There was a group of young boys at the end of the wooden walkway that extends into the marsh, about halfway through the walk. We just kept walking. My son cut back through the property and took a wide berth around the barn because there were people out there. Then he complained that I just did what I wanted and that he did not want to walk with me any more. I told him that I took the route that I wanted to take. 

It was nice to do different things. To be different places. With different combinations of people. I am not one for resolutions but I am trying to invoke Bigmouth’s Gratitoad. Trying to be grateful for what I have right now. Today. To not worry about all of the what ifs. It is not an easy thing. I’ve succeeded for the entire year so far. We’ll see how it goes. 

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It’s been a month. A month since the election. A month since I’ve been able to run. A month of increasing virus rates. So long and so short. It could be a year instead. But only a month.

We Thanksgivinged in an unorthodox way. It was a little less stressful from a cooking perspective. We swooped into a friend’s house, exchanged food while wearing masks and went back to our homes to eat. With our unmasked mouths. Commando Thanksgiving. 

My mom has been in pain. Pain that had her screaming out. I took her to the ER. I question that. Should she be in there? With the COVID? I knew that they would not really do anything for her. But they did prescribe an opioid painkiller. Maybe that is what I was after. Luckily she does not really like them. I worry that she will take too many. She will forget if she took one and take another. And then maybe drink some wine. I took them away. 

She got an injection on Tuesday in her spine. She had one just the week before that did not work. This one seems to be better. She is no longer screaming in pain. She is not spending long days laying on the heating pad. But she can’t walk her dogs. She can’t groom her dogs. She is not happy. And for some reason, with all of the doctors she has, none want to help me manage her pain.

The shot guy told me that his shots should take care of the pain. When I tried to make an appointment to actually sit down and talk to him, his office told me that they were not having appointments due to COVID and that they were not allowed. I know that this is not true. I know that this is not true because we saw a spine surgeon on Friday. In the office. 

So since no one will manage the pain. And she can’t manage the pain. I have become the pain manager. I am the one she calls to ask if she can take two Aleve (probably not a good idea). Or I tell her to try to mix it up with some extra strength tylenol. Do you know what I am not? I am not a doctor. I do not feel good about this. Tomorrow we should get the pill tracker thingy that I bought on Amazon. I will lay out some random assortment of pain killers that may or may not work. That may or may not destroy her kidneys. Or her liver. The lady from the shot guy who told me we could not have an appointment told me she could take two Aleve a day. But I knew that. It says it right on the label. But it also says not to take it for more than ten days. Then what? What if she keeps taking it? Telling me what is on the label is not helpful. Although I am not a doctor, I can read. 

We are going to see her doctor on Friday. I will ask all the questions. We may go to a different pain doctor for a second opinion. The spinal surgeon could only offer her a total spinal reconstruction which would put rods and screw in her back with an extremely long recovery time. I’m certain that would kill her.

The weather has turned cold and the days are short. The muscle I pulled behind my knee seems to slowly be getting better. I took a janky run/walk around the neighborhood today that was not entirely terrible. Mostly. But not entirely.

Maybe we all just need more time. To get better. To heal. To get it together. The light at the end of the tunnel is like a pin prick but it is there. I can feel it more than see it. I hold on to that. 

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Musings of Poll Worker

I really did not want to do it. Be a poll worker. Aside from the truly sucky hours (show up at 5:00 a.m. and leave sometime after 9:00 p.m.), virus. I have low virus tolerance. But I kept hearing about the need. Then my two best friends out here signed up and I had no excuse. I went to the training and when I had to take the oath, I kind of choked up a bit (yay masks). I told one of the women I worked with yesterday that it felt like I was tasked with holding up democracy. She said that she understood and that it did feel that way. 

I would say that we generally had few glitches, aside from the pandemic related ones. First, we had a guy show up without a mask and would not wear one. The protocol for this is to clear all the other voters out of the polling place and then let the maskless in to vote. Somehow, a local police officer convinced the guy to put a mask on. It may have helped that all of the folks on the line behind him were getting aggravated. So that was an unpleasant situation. 

We had one woman and a family of three show up to vote and at least came clean that they were positive for the virus. It was a little nerve wracking. It was simple enough to deal with the one woman (she got a wide berth and everyone stayed away from her) but the family of three was a bit rougher. To their credit they were masked and they had face shields. But, we had no training on what to do in this situation, at least I did not. The family of three were kept together. They all used the same voting booth. It was deep cleaned as soon as they left. But it was used after that. It all seemed a little cavalier to me. I think that a better solution would have been to maybe have them vote via affidavit outside of the building. That way they would not have come in and they could have still exercised their right to vote.

We had a lot of young white men dressed like they were going to go hunting. They mostly wore gaiters and not masks. For some reason, those always strike me as almost threatening. I don’t know why. We had a mom and a daughter and a dad with a son who came to take pictures of their kids voting for the first time. At the very end of the night, a family with three small kids came in. The two oldest, not more than maybe five and four, came over to a man who was scooting himself across the gym floor in his wheelchair and got behind to push him. It was a moment of laughter and levity. It was a moment where people who may have been vastly different ideologically shared something. A small piece. If only that could happen more often.

Some of the work at the polling site requires individuals of different parties to work together. At our site, we were thick with “D”s with a scattering of “I”s and very few “R”s. The one R that stands out in my mind is the older gentleman in a large suede cowboy hat with a feather on the front. He wore flannel and cowboy boots and his mask seemed to be homemade with a plastic frame on the outside that barely covered his mouth and nose and stuck out in a very snout-like way. It was lined with something that could have been part of an old sock. He really came across as a typical grumpy old man but when I was assigned to check people in with him, I decided that I would go with it. We had a rush at the outset and I ran the check in on what is basically an ipad like thing. When we slowed down I had him take the lead. He was a little slow and seemed a bit technologically challenged like my mom. We had a lull and he made some small talk. He asked if I was married. I told him I was unmarried. He asked where I worked. I told him for a health insurer. I asked if he was retired. He said that was and that he was a pilot. Then he turned his attention to the poll pad we used for check in. He went on to tell me that the technology in the instrument was alien from a UFO crash in South Africa. I think that I actually told him that I did not think that was true. He told me that he had a video of the crash. He told me that people who saw the crash, who somehow survived, had picked up technology, put it in their pockets and walked away. Then I took a dinner break.

Part of me is endlessly amused at this. But the other part of me is just frightened. This denial of science and willingness to accept fiction as fact. When I got home from poll working, after 10:00 p.m, I opened a beer and got in the shower. I did not watch the returns. I really can’t. My anxiety is off the scale. And even if we end up with a new president, the more heartbreaking thing is that most of the people in this country are happy to embrace the racism and the anger and the thoughtlessness and the divisiveness. I replay the “parade” that came through my town. Those people scared me. It seemed as though they felt like they had the right to do whatever they wanted. Like stopping traffic on major roadways. It feels like the country is circling the drain. 

But working the polls felt important. It felt democratic. Because who thinks that all the votes should not count? Not me. 

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When I was very small, my mother took me with her to vote. I remember very distinctly what the voting machines looked like back in the day – giant metal closets here in NY. There was a panel of little switches on the inside with a giant lever in the front that would close the curtain to ensure privacy. I would get into that booth with my mom. I don’t remember her ever letting me flick those little levers, as much as I wanted to. I do remember her letting me move the lever on at least one occasion. It was so exciting for me. I didn’t really understand what was going on but it felt important and I was happy to be a part of it.

When I got old enough to vote myself, I am pretty certain that my mom and I ran (literally ran) up to my old high school together to cast my first ever vote. I was so excited. My mom would never tell who she voted for. She said that it was private and that she did not have to share. I still do not know if she voted for JFK or not. She has relaxed this rule since then.

When I worked at the Hawaii State Capitol, the State Representative that I worked for almost lost his seat to a challenger by just nine votes. I always hold this close to my heart when people say things like their vote doesn’t matter. Or it doesn’t count. I know that is not true. 

During the last presidential election, I was in NY for my dad’s funeral (I voted before I went). Four years ago. I felt certain that we would have our first female president. I remember thinking that watching returns here in NY is at a much more disagreeable time of the day than when watching them in Hawaii. I was lying in the bed in my friend’s guest room and I finally just went to sleep. Pennsylvania had been lost. I woke up the next day with a sense of dread about the next four years.

I held out hope that there would be some voices of reason in the Administration but that all went completely off the rails rather quickly. I worry for the future of this planet. I don’t know what kind of place my son will have to live in. If places we have lived will become uninhabitable. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it should be that there is no place to go. Money can’t buy you escape from globalwide situations. 

My friends committed to be poll workers on Election Day. I was the last one to actually commit. Virus anxiety was to blame. I went to the training with a dozen or so people in a room where we were socially distanced but our trainer took her mask off. I came close to walking out. But the training made the job feel important. It made me feel like I was helping to hold up the scaffolding of democracy in this country. I had to be sworn in. It felt real.

Since I am a poll worker, I had to vote early. I went to our early voting site on Monday morning. I stood in line for about an hour before I made it to the building to cast my vote. I interacted with two folks doing the job that I will be doing on Tuesday. I took my ballot to one of the little privacy booths, nothing like the old school metal lockers of my youth. And I voted. I voted my heart and my soul. I voted for my son. For the future. I was so worked up about it at the time that I barely recall doing it. When I got back to my car I cried (something that I do quite frequently these days). I am borderline panicked to be indoors for many, many hours on Tuesday with every stranger in my town but it feels more than important. It feels like everything.  

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Who is the Silent Majority?

Sunday my mom and I blew off church. It was just starting to feel like part of the same terrible weekly routine and we wanted to do something different. I asked her if maybe she wanted to go to the state park in Orient (the end of the island) instead and do some walking around outside. She agreed. It was lovely and breezy and fall-like. There were families walking and families fishing. It was very pleasant. Afterwards I hung out at her house for a bit. In the yard. On the way home I passed a couple of really large Biden/Harris signs in her town. It was so heartening to me. I live in a district represented by a Republican Congressman. He spoke during the RNC. There are Trump flags (plural) on my running route. My son went to someone’s house and this boy had a confederate flag on his wall. It’s like that here. 

So I was feeling good. I was feeling good that maybe we could oust our red guy for the scientist and democrat candidate running against him. And then I turned down from the North Road to the Main Road and on the corner and across the street were bunches of people. Bunches of people with Trump flags. And American flags. Sitting. With pickup trucks. It was kind of odd. And surprising. I thought it was just them. Just those people. But after stopping and chatting with my friend (who lives on the Main Road) she told me that there was a parade. A caravan. Of Trump supporters. Driving from up island to the town just before my mom’s. As we sat in her yard, there were giant pick up trucks with flags flapping in the wind. There was the tooting of horns in support of the side-of-the-road folks. It was a lot. So I went home.

On the way I passed about a dozen people out in front of the Marketplace. They had Dump Trump signs. And one Biden/Harris sign. And an American flag. I tooted at them. I shaka-ed at them. And then I went home. But I really wanted to join them. I came home and told my son. He was very much against it. He reminded me of what happened to protestors in Charlottesville. I told him that I felt afraid but that I had as much of a right to be out there as anyone else. And I felt like I had to do something. So I went. 

The guy I ended up standing next to told me he had just come out to the market to pick up some groceries. The first guy that cursed at us after I got there stuck his head out of his sunroof while he was driving to call us “retards.” His lovely wife, stuck her head out next to call us “fuckfaces.” The group that I was with was very passive. No one was responding in kind when attacked in this way (apparently other groups further East had been a bit more aggressive in their responses). The “parade” was still headed East but some of the participants were headed back West as well. At times the traffic stopped right in front of us. One woman in particular just kept yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump” out of her window. Many, many people gave us the middle finger. Many people yelled “fuck Biden.” One man, while stopped at the light, was ranting about how all the criminals were going to be set free and how would we like that. At one point, three elderly folks walked over to join us. They lasted about ten seconds before understanding what participating was going to feel like and immediately left. My friend, from the Main Road joined me for a while though. A family with an approximately twelve year old girl stopped as well. I would like to say that people were more civil once we had a child in our midst but I can’t.

A car full of Trump supporters pulled into the Marketplace parking lot. A man, a woman and two near teens jumped out. They had a Trump flag and ran out of the car with it. They ran over to us and held the flag in between us and the road. The teen girl stumbled towards traffic a bit and I couldn’t help but wonder what this was teaching them. It all felt like madness.

And what it also felt like to me was fear. Power. Dominance. What it felt like was Trump supporters who seemed to be emboldened to do anything. To say anything. And that it was okay. And this was one of the reasons that I really wanted to be out there because as absolutely ugly as it was, I wanted the other people. The ones without the flags. The ones not participating in the cult of personality, to know that we are not all like that. That there is hope. The people in those cars. Many were brown. Many were young. Many had children in the car. Many were female. Many of them did not honk. Many just waved or gave us a thumbs up. Because showing support there in that moment, in any way, seemed really scary. Seemed like then you would be a target as well. And who wants that?

I was able to do it for about forty five minutes and then I had had enough. I came home and literally just sat in the sun for a while. I could still hear all of the honking. Part of me could argue in my head that the majority of the trucks, the flatbed with the sound system, the motorcycles and sirens, were from up island. From a place that was not where I live. But the crowds on the sides of the road were from here. Sitting in the back of pick up trucks. Or on folding chairs on the side of the road. With their American flags. And MAGA hats. 

Today when I dropped my son off at school. The nice man in the mask who took my son’s temperature gave me a wave. Was he there yesterday? Cheering on the anger? Did the old guy I saw on my run today give me the finger yesterday? What about the people who work in the post office? Or my local Starbucks? I knew. I knew what it was like out here. I can’t say that I didn’t know but it almost feels like my world has experienced an earthquake. An earthquake and everything that I thought I knew is potentially wrong. My world feels askew. I thought that people could disagree but still be kind and decent. But I don’t know. It’s like a license to terrorize. To berate and belittle people who don’t agree with you. And I am certain that that attitude is not one that solely exists here. If it did not feel like the end of the world before, it most certainly does now.

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My Butt is Not Broken

I have a new health plan. I had to pick it myself. Off of the NY health exchange. It was a scary process. I tried to make sure that our PCPs were in network. That we could go to the hospital if we had to. I thought that I had chosen okay. But then when I needed care from specialists or a dentist, I ran into issues. Trying to find a provider that was not far away. That I would not have to wait months for. I happened to take a look at my card the other day that lists the co-pays. $20 for my PCP. $40 for a specialist. $175 for a visit to the ER. 

Yesterday, I was leaving to go pick my son up from work from the farmstand. I was wearing my slippers (flip flops for you mainlanders). About halfway down the stairs, I just slipped. Just slipped. Even though the stairs have metal grippy things on them to prevent slippage. My feet went right out from under me and I landed on one of the steps firmly on my tailbone. I managed to sort of sprawl out and hold on. I managed to not slam my head against another step. I managed to not break my leg. But it hurt really badly. And it sounded like I heard something crack when I landed. I gave myself a quick assessment then ran upstairs to grab my donut cushion to sit on. I ran up to pick up my son, who of course was calling me because I was not there when he thought that I should be there.I told him I had fallen down the stairs which made him more sympathetic. 

I drove home and got myself up the stairs. I called a friend to see if I should go to the ER. I googled a broken tailbone to see if there was anything that could be done. There is not. I just felt like I really needed to know if it was broken or just bruised. I needed to know so I could plan my road to get back to running. I thought that broken versus bruised would entail a much longer recovery. I sat at home contemplating the ER for like an hour. Contemplating the $175 copay. Should I go? Should I not go. My friend said that she would not go. Her husband said that maybe I should go.

I ended up going anyway. I was triaged. I was x-rayed. The doctor told me that the coccyx bone was vestigial from when we used to have tails. I knew that. And it was not broken. I was told to take painkillers and only run if it did not hurt. That made sense.

While I was at the ER, the lady in the room next to me had been in the day before. She had a tooth infection and no insurance. While I was in the waiting room a doctor chatted with the intake nurse about his relationship. The guy’s name who took my x-rayn was Rock. Everytime I talked to someone else, they asked me how I had hurt myself. I wondered why. Did they have to ensure that I had not hit my head? That I was not on drugs? That the story that I told was consistent? I don’t know. I almost asked but I didn’t.

It was the longest amount of time that I had been inside anywhere. And even though a hospital is a scary place to be, it was nice to talk to other people. To people who were not the same ten people that I have seen since March (no offense to those ten people). 

 It has been a week since this happened and I am still pretty sore. I have trotted about very slowly and it does not hurt more. I have a hard time lying on my back. This is only an issue for the cat who expects to lie on my chest in the evening for nighttime loving. I try to do it for a bit for her but I eventually have to dump her off.

I”m glad that my butt is not broken. Maybe it was a warning. From the universe. A kick in the butt as it were. Or maybe it was to remind me that there is nothing normal And wishing won’t make that happen. That pain. As if I needed a reminder.

Posted in Aging, fear, midlife crisis | Leave a comment

Bone Density


A few years ago, I ended up getting an unexpected root canal. My gum was sore. I was having all of these weird nervey face issues. And then I went to the dentist and he was like, you need a root canal and we are going to do it right now. Since then, I do not like going to the dentist. My root canal tooth is, for all intents and purposes, a black fang hiding under a crown. I often say that if I had to get another root canal I would have them just pull the tooth.

A week ago I started to have weird feelings that felt like the bad root canal days. I have heard of teeth having to be re-root canaled. I was sure that I was going to be that person. The person who needed a second root canal during a pandemic. I needed to have the tooth looked at. 

I have individual insurance. It literally costs a fortune. This individual insurance includes dental coverage. When I chose it myself, a scary prospect, I made sure that our primary care physicians were in network. I did not really look at the dental coverage. Perhaps I should have.

I called around locally to see who takes our plan. I was striking out. Completely. Finally I went to my insurer’s website and checked the provider directory. I found a dentist a few towns up. I called and explained that I thought I was an emergency. I was able to wrangle an appointment for today. I tried not to get all worked up about going. 

The office is in a strip mall in between a Chinese buffet and a nail place. It had a very 1970s  decor vibe. The waiting room was full. An African American family with a dad and three kids. A Hispanic couple. The ladies behind the front desk were speaking Spanish to the patients coming out and those on the phone. The only other white people in the office were what seemed to be a couple of office managers and a technician. And the reason that they really stood out was that they were not wearing masks, Not even pretending. Not on their chin. Or hanging off an ear. Not one anywhere. And I could not help but think how disrespectful this was to the patients. To everyone else in that office wearing masks. And I really wanted to report them. To someone. But then I felt like this was my privileged self talking. Knowing how hard it was for me to find a dentist that took my insurance, I felt like I couldn’t take this provider away from these patients. I felt like a reverse Karen. 

When I come across this type of behavior (see blog post on my conspiracy theory stylist), I want to just walk away. But I stayed. I really wanted that x-ray. While I waited to be called into the back, I did so outside of the office entirely. I just couldn’t sit in there with the unmasked people. Unmasked white women. When I was taken in the back, I was put in the station closest to the front. That was good for me. There were no plexiglass shields between where I was sitting and the patient in the next cubby over. That was not good for me. The woman who seated me told me that I could take my mask off. That seemed like a bad idea. So I didn’t. The technician was a young African American guy. I explained my situation to him and he took one x-ray of my root canal tooth. It showed nothing. He ended up taking two more x-rays of the area. The dentist came in. He was Indian and spoke with an accent. He looked at my tooth. Looked at the pictures of it. Ultimately the diagnosis was that I am suffering from bone loss in that area. I will need to go to an oral surgeon. He told me that he liked my last name. He said that it was how he always thought about things that went together. That they just clicked. He took the time to show me my x-rays. He showed me where I am losing the bone. And the root canal tooth that looked like some alien plant life was living inside of it. He told me that I should stop using whitening toothpaste. And he referred me to an oral surgeon. 

So my experience on the inside was so much better than what my initial reaction was. To the outside. I wanted to say something. To the ladies at the front desk. To the technician. But I did not. And I struggle with my responsibility when it comes to this. Where does that lie? Should I report them? Or does that cause more harm? 

I have no answers. And I feel like I should quarantine myself for 14 days.

Posted in fear, New York, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment