My nine-month emergency room boycott ended on Tuesday. Around noon, the floor started to bounce. I crawled around my office unconcerned for about an hour, until a migraine threatened to take my vision. Benadryl, my magic duct tape, did nothing. I told myself I was probably anemic again, and all I needed was simple blood test.
The emergency room is always a gamble. Sometimes I receive great care; other times I am completely dismissed, regardless of my symptoms. This makes me incredibly nervous. When I am nervous, I tell jokes uncontrollably.
A quiet emergency room is a sign of good luck. On Tuesday, the check-in nurse led me straight to a room. Within a minute of changing into a hospital gown, the doctor appeared. I explained my symptoms and concerns, searching the doctor’s face for subtle reactions.
She asked, “Any chance you’re pregnant?”
“No,” I said. She might as well have asked if there’s any chance I had traveled to the moon.
“How do you know?” she asked.
I tried to think of the correct answer, the answer she would like to hear. I had given the wrong response once before. An anesthesiologist had asked me, “Are you sure?” and I replied, “Unless I’m having baby Jesus.” He ordered a pregnancy test.
I hate this question, because it second-guesses women’s knowledge of their own bodies. Yet, having watched an entire season of “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant,” I understand why it is necessary. I feel like a more pragmatic question might be, “Have you seen a penis in the past nine months?”
As I tried to carefully formulate words, I got nervous and blurted, “Because the newspaper printed that I’m allergic to men.”
For full effect, I dug out a copy of the local newspaper from my tote bag, and plopped it on the hospital bed.
“That’s you,” said the nurse, pointing to the front-page photo of me wearing the same green gown.
I’m not sure which was most disconcerting to the doctor: my allergy to men or that I carry a newspaper of myself? To be honest, I packed it out of fear that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. In the past, doctors have even disregarded my emergency protocol. Perhaps, a newspaper would be more convincing?
I hadn’t anticipated using it for self-sabotage.
The ER doctor did not laugh at my hilarious joke. This just makes me more nervous and want to try harder to elicit laughs. However, she did order the blood tests and fluids, and even offered Benadryl. I relaxed and the jokes thankfully stopped.
P.S. Yes, my local newspaper wrote an article about me. Check it out.