Like many recovering perfectionists, I pride myself on being productive and doing things independently. I enjoy being the “helper” not the “helpee” . . . Well, the universe lovingly sent me a lesson to smooth out this jagged growing edge. I had a fabulous start to my spring break vacation. I connected with my dear friend from graduate school and my mom. I very much enjoyed my visitors, but also looked forward to five days of me time. Time for ME, ME, ME – yoga, bike riding, writing, reading, and closet-cleaning. I would finally catch up with life until tonsillitis caught up with me. . .
Following a negative strep test, my primary care physician (PCP) informed me there was nothing he could do for me. He sent me home, told me to rest, gargle with salt water, and drink Theraflu. Forty-eight hours later ambulating and swallowing became herculean efforts. Sadly, my tonsils resembled something from Aliens – red, pus-filled, sacs which invaded the space I once called my throat. I sent the wonderful man in my life (WMIML), a dramatic text, “Something is really wrong, I feel worse. I need help. Come.” Fortunately, he came and convinced me to go to urgent care. I greatly appreciated his concern and patience as I attempted to pull myself together. This scene falls far from my best self. Fortunately, WMIML’s compassion eclipsed my pitiful pageantry.
WMIML: Where is your sweater?
Me: (Tears falling) I don’t know.
WMIML: Is it hanging over there on your coat rack?
WMIML: (Kindly brings it over to me and helps me put it on). How about some shoes?
Me: It’s too cold to wear shorts out. I need to find some pants (snotty nose blow).
WMIML: (Picks up the pair I’ve been wearing the past two days off the floor.) How about these?
Me: They stink. I need clean pants.
WMIML: Ok. Where do you keep them?
Me: Over there. (I pitifully point to a dresser drawer).
WMIML: (Pulls out a pair of jeans). How about these?
Me: Ok. Thank you (sniff, sniff). I can’t even find myself a pair of pants. I’m a mess.
WMIML: Yes, that’s why we need to get you to urgent care. Go put them on and let’s go.
Fortunately, the wait was short, and the compassionate physician complimented my coming in promptly. He gave me antibiotics and pain medication on the spot. WMIML drove me home, helped me into bed, and kindly took my sweet doggie out for a potty break. Ahh, back to the land of the living until . . .
I finished the 10 day course of antibiotics and the tonsillitis migrated from the right tonsil to the left. I felt demoralized as I trudged back to my PCP. Now, I was on antibiotics round two. No improvement after several days. WMIML returns to drive me to urgent care. I have not washed my hair in four days and given my malaise the idea of dreadlocks sounds somewhat appealing. I throw on a t-shirt, jeans and manage to corral my oily locks into a hair clip.
PCP: Given you haven’t improved and it’s been three weeks we should try a steroid. It’s like a “miracle” you should start feeling better right away.
Me: I want a miracle. Give me the miracle. Would it be inappropriate to hug you?
PCP: The miracle will involve a shot in your bottom.
Me: I don’t care. I want the miracle.
The nurse comes in and promptly administers the miracle. She mentions it “will burn.” What she failed to declare is that it will feel like a wasp stung you on the ass and reduce your stride to a pitiful limp. I texted WMIML that I received a steroid shot and swiftly hobbled out of the exam room. He politely tried to stifle his laughter to no avail. I was a sight, and I knew it. We climbed onto the elevator with another woman, and his snicker broke into full blown hilarity. I joined him because the only alternative was crying and rubbing my derrière in front of a stranger. She just smiled and commented, “we all have those kind of days.” I nodded in agreement.
After I tried to inconspicuously massage my bottom while waiting on my prescriptions in the pharmacy, I limped through the parking garage while WMIML tried to remember where we parked. The song This Sex is on Fire by the Kings of Leon echoed in my head. Except the word “ass” replaced “sex.” I hummed while I hobbled until the burning overcame my entire backside. I halted and yelled to WMIML, “time out!” He ran over, placed my arm over his shoulder and helped me stagger to the car. I felt guilty for monopolizing what could have been his enjoyable weekend. We had a trip planned for stargazing in the desert. I kept running through scenarios of how I could repay him. However, an African safari or a seat on the Virgin Galactic space shuttle to Mars was slightly out of my budget. I opted for an Amazon gift card.
Why do we find it challenging to be vulnerable and soak in the compassion of others? I know if the tables were turned I would have gladly cared for WMIML. I probably earned a B- during this vulnerability lesson and more will likely come. In the meantime, I’m going to go wash my hair. I wish all of you well and challenge you to embrace a smidge of vulnerability this week.
My splendidly imperfect dog had no problem with my oily locks.