Is having a problem over here.


So I’m writing this essay for this contest, and it’s about my personal journey from sickness to health. Well, I mean, it could be about anyone’s journey to any old place, really, but for me it’s about that. There’s a cash prize, also, so I’m especially motivated to make it a good read. And, as usual, I’m fine with talking about my depression, my anger, my marriage, my stay in the Bin, but it is SO HARD to describe how I got well. The journey from there to here is impossible to relate, and, in some ways, more painful to remember than my days in despair.

I mean, how do you describe how your husband left you, and you were living in the apartment alone with a cat who pissed not just everywhere but EVERYWHERE, and you barely had heat and you slept on the pull-out couch, but how during that time the Universe saw fit to give you amazing friends, shiny fun toys, and a brand-new lease on life? How do you describe how you were actually GRATEFUL to your husband for leaving, and how much sorrow you felt about how everything turned out? And then, if you can manage all that, how do you convey the beginning with B! – how a phone call from an old friend turned into capital L-O-V-E in a matter of weeks? Like, crazy fast but it was gravity, and the realization hit like a crash-test dummy faced with 65mph of brick wall.

Maybe it’s hard because those last days with Katsu were so hazy and strange. Maybe it’s because the months after were stranger yet. Maybe it’s this way because I’ve yet to figure it all out. I never want to come at my story from a position of being totally well – I mean, I’m still amazed by each day without utter catastrophe – but it’s true that my mind is much better now. Regardless of whether I win or not, regardless of how I tell the story, the essay will bubble up here eventually. It’s good to have things to rely on.

hates everything sometimes. I can’t be the only one.


Driving home after a crazy day of work, you pick up your boyfriend on the way to the gym. The mere fact that you have to pick him up kind of sets you sideways – you like to be direct in your errands, and this stopoff has you crimped. Then you have to swing by FedEx, which always sucks, and your boyfriend’s bought salmon for dinner when what you really wanted was restaurant pizza. And it’s raining, right, and dark, and there’s all sorts of traffic on 1A so you take this back route through Eastie which brings you through Chelsea which gets you very lost. And of course your boyfriend’s GPS just SAVES THE FREAKING DAY, which irks you tremendously.

By the time you get to the gym, you’re in a “throwing-this-goddamn-mimosa-right-across-the-room” mood. So you decide to use the treadmill and really whip yourself calm. Except the treadmill aggravates your shinsplints and is a lot harder than the elliptical. Seriously. Ten agonizing minutes later, you retreat, red-faced and panting, to your usual machine, and sweat out the next half-hour in a fury of self-loathing and despair at your lack of athletic prowess. And the rain. And especially the GPS.

It occurs to me, however, that I used to live my whole LIFE with this kind of angst. Every minute of every day was spent restraining myself from completely freaking out. So, in that respect, one snowball of frustration isn’t so bad after all. And maybe I should just chill out and be grateful that it’s not how it used to be.

How Not To Spend Your Time: Pt 2


Last Thursday, I just sucked it up and went to the doctor. I didn’t have high hopes – after the failed mono test of the previous Saturday it seemed anything was possible. Except, like, the opposite of that.

So I hauled over to Eastie, parked a half-mile from the health center, and enjoyed the smell of early-morning secondhand smoke during my stroll down Porter St. It was $170 to get in, with a Nurse Practitioner, no less, so I intended to make the most of things. I read a pleasant book in the waiting room after checking in with a woman who looked like a young Salma Hayek (if Salma Hayek had an 18-inch waist and a 36-inch bust), and, as usual, I was weighed facing toward the irons on the scale. I kind of wish they would ask you first.

My nurse was a hip young man with shoes I adored and glasses I couldn’t help but covet.

“I hate rashes,” he confessed, with a sigh, after I showed him my arms.

“So do I,” I said, scratching absently at my lower back.

Together we spent considerable time looking through a large medical book containing every skin disease known to mankind. There were suppurated lesions, cracked and bleeding flesh, swollen fingers and languishing toes. Eventually we settled on Pityriasis rosea, a mild but mysterious affliction that lasts about a month, has no known cause, and, thus, no known treatment.

“I could prescribe you some steroid cream,” he offered, “but you couldn’t, you know -”

“- put it ALL OVER YOUR BODY.” we finished in unison, as I turned my attention to a particular itchy patch on my upper thigh. “OK, well, I also wanted to ask about getting Chantix – that ‘stop smoking’ pill, or whatever.”

He turned back to his monitor and tabbed over to my medication profile. “You know,” he said, rather sadly, “I really wouldn’t feel comfortable prescribing that for you until you talk to your other treaters. Chantix has some pretty serious side effects.” A valid point, since the newly-introduced Seroquel is giving me such vivid dreams that I occasionally wake up and smell my subconscious burning.

I liked this nurse. He treated me very nicely. I liked his rash book, I liked his sweater, I liked his wedding ring. I wanted to have him over for kebabs. He suggested that I come back in a week to check in, and then asked me, as an afterthought, what kind of insurance I had.

“It’s the shitty kind.” I laughed, and I told him all about the crazy deductible and the problems getting my scripts, and and the huge bill I now owe my therapist. His brown eyes turned sad behind those incredible black-rimmed glasses, although he laughed along with me. I mean, I felt bad for the guy. He clearly wanted to help me, but was absolutely unable to. Like, in any way at all.

At least I’m pretty sure now that I don’t have Scabies. That’s a good thing.

How Not To Spend Your Time: Pt 1


B! and I went down to see my parents the other Saturday. Seeing the wretched state of my forearms, covered, as they were, in tiny red bumps, my mom gently steered me to the Minute Clinic at CVS. Together we waited there for about 40 minutes, observing the vast and varied pharmacy clientele, and were finally seen by a very nice Nurse Practitioner. After tallying off my boutique of psychoactive medications, she silently added “anxiety disorder” to my profile and then asked, in a very matter-of-fact way, if I was depressed.

“I think I might have mono,” I told the nurse.

The nurse produced a large binder from somewhere behind her computer, and flipped over to a page tabbed with “INFECTIOUS MONONUCLEOSIS”. It had more pictures than text. This did not instill confidence.

“We’ll do a test,” she said.

To me it seemed like spending a hundred dollars on nothing at all – there’s no cure for mono except just chilling out, and, realistically, I can’t afford to just chill out right now. But my mother persisted, and I gave in.

Carefully, with the air of a new hire navigating the supply closet, the nurse brought down a box labeled “MONO TEST” and began to read the printed directions. There was a needle, a vial, and three glass jars involved. She seemed a little confused.

“Um,” she said, squeezing dryly at the eyedropper bottle, and kind of trailed off. Turns out, they had run out of the solution that tests for mono, and so she couldn’t tell me anything at all.

Free advice: if you have a mysterious rash covering your entire body, are fairly sure you don’t have measles, and would like medical validation for why you’ve been sleeping 10 hours a day, don’t bother going to the Minute Clinic in my parents’ town. It’s totally not worth it.

FML. Really. No, REALLY really.


Imagine we’re on Facebook here.

Erinire A…

Just found out she has a health insurance deductible of $4,000. Good thing she’s not at all dependent on weekly therapy and expensive medication to keep her alive!

… Oh, wait.

Well, at least she’s incredibly wealthy, right?

… She’s not? Shit, OK, well…

At least she hasn’t racked up a lot of service charges, thinking she actually had REAL ACTUAL health insurance!

… oh, so you mean, she DID think she actually had real actual health insurance.

Alright… So then, um, at least she has that tax rebate coming back, huh?

Oh, she OWES.

Wait, what? FIVE GRAND? Get out of here, you can’t be serious.

You are serious. OK. Um…

So, then, like…

Yeah hey, know what, I have this, um, thing… around the corner, so… yeah. Gotta go. Sorry. Here’s my last Miller High Life.

… No, no really, take it. Least I can do, considering.

Oh, come on now, don’t start crying! Oh, man…


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