i dreamt that i was in college, wandering around the posh barracks i recognized as a dorm, trying to find a private bathroom. they were all occupied with groups of women primping, and man i had to go. wait. i thought to myself. how is it possible that i'm still in college? even felicity is done with college. eventually i found a bathroom and was midstream when i realized a girl i went to high school with -- natalie, not necessarily a friend regardles of what junior high traveling basketball team photos would suggest -- was passed out in the sink.
when i woke up i didn't need a dream interpretation guru: i needed urgent care.
it has been awhile since i've had a urinary tract infection. for a spell i got one everytime i smelled beer. i have attributed the recent health of my tract to red machine naked juice -- which is teeming with cranberries -- and my lifelong commitment to clear streams of urine at a cost of going to the ladies every 45 minutes like some sort of pee little winkie.
at first i thought i could cure it with a good ole fashioned home remedy: couch. green blanket. upward of 106 ounces of water. cranberry injections. sleep. some very important television tivo'd on monday night. two months backlog of the new yorker and, most importantly, an unimpeded route to chuck's toilet.
by seven, it was still possible to light candles with one of my urine samples; it felt like i was relieving myself of tobasco sauce. i drove myself to urgent care.
the waiting room was packed with limpers, wheezers, half the fire department, and shaken toddlers. kind of like the wal-mart parking lot. i've done this drill often. it's like watching a movie i can repeat verbatim. i know the cubby where they keep the urine sample kit.
painful and frequent urination.
i just know, okay.
i kicked my relationship with chuck up a notch by making him my new emergency contact. sorry, dad.
today was unique because i felt the most mild twinge of shame when i had to bring my clear baggie with the sample back past the guy who had checked me in, through the waiting room, and hand it to the woman working at the front desk. since i'd already been taking pain pills, my delivery looked like highly concentrated tang.
having not been to urgent care recently, i'd forgotten my book. instead i brushed up on the hospitals fare of current events. who knew that heath ledger died, kirsten dunst went to rehab and nichole ritchie and christina aguilara gave birth just a day apart?
meanwhile, the woman to my right gave a running critique of american idol -- a show i've never seen. apparently someone got his hair cut and looks much better; and blah blah blah dolly parton.
the next show was called "hell's kitchen" and featured swearing chefs. i looked to the glassy eyed eight year old boy coloring a picture at a nearby table and casually changed the channel to "the biggest loser" all while wondering if "the biggest loser" is a more child-friendly show, deciding it was because it didn't have the word "hell" in the title, wondering if "hell" is still a swear word, questioning the network's decision to air these shows at this hour and then wondering WHERE THE HELL THIS KID'S PARENTS WERE AND WHEN I TURNED INTO A FRIGGING PRUDE!
this sort of thing went on for two hours.
by the time i got a face-to-face consultation, urgent care had closed and i was ushered into the emergency room. this came with a new set of questions:
do you have a living will or a power of attorney?
do you feel safe at home?
have you had any bad falls recently?
do you live on your own?
a congenial game show host dressed as a doctor emerged a few minutes later, shook my hand, felt my kidneys, wrote out a prescription and tacked on some bonus refills since i "seem to understand what a urinary tract is without needing to come to urgent care."
"your sample was very infected," he told me.
and for some reason i felt proud. vindicated even. no half-assed borderline business. i have a fully raging, highly painful infection. only the best and biggest for this lady.