Blaark vs. Hippocrates and the Blue Shield
Silly as it may seem I thought my pants were just too tight. Sunday I did laundry and, in observance of hygiene, swapped my worn and tattered pair of jeans for a cleaner worn and tattered pair of jeans. They always are in need of some breaking in when the transition comes but, I recall even now, this time round they seemed especially uncomfortable. Didn’t have time to lounge around the house letting them stretch, tho, since I’d been invited at the last minute to a BBQ out in the Richmond and they told me specifically they had some beer. The jeans were chafing as I cut through Golden Gate Park past little families walking little dogs around the Polo Fields while a murder of crows (okay, probably ravens) spat insults at me from the trees.
There was noticable irritation in the crease between my leg and pelvis later in the evening but I was still walking around, drinking under the plaza beneath St. Mary’s, and nothing could be done short of stripping and it was a little cold. By the time I reached the sanctity of home and readied myself for slumber the irritation had given way to pain and, behold, some sort of fluid. I congratulated myself on being the first person in the history of humanity to have a popped blisted as the result of wearing pants and trickled off, with mild discomfort, to sleep.
Blisters, to the best of my experience and knowledge, have a way of healing themselves and as the week progressed this failed to occur. Come Wednesday I stopped at my friendly pharmacy to procure generic neosporin and gauze with which, in addition to some toilet paper, I attempted to fashion a serviceable bandage to protect the ragged flesh from the constant movement of my leg and clothing. I was able to prove that I’ve not a future in nursing. Here’s a fun experiment– get some gauze and try to tie it in a fashion which keeps a square of toilet paper in the crease between your leg and pelvis and walk around all day. Still there? Walking to the bus to catch to work on Thursday I shortened my limp to prevent the fruits of my labor from spilling out of my pants cuff.
So now I’d been limping for the better part of a week, finding a disgusting pus on me everytime I took a shower. I began to grow concerned that I either had an infected, popped blister from wearing tight jeans or had something frightful from God knows what. Now, as I rule I don’t have sex but the proximity of this pus-oozing sore to my unmentionables began to send my mind whirling into uncharted waters of abject panic. What the fuck do herpes actually look like? Genital warts? It’s not on my genitals but maybe that’s just something catchy for school-children to remember it by. I’m gonna have to see a fucking doctor and they’re gonna tell me I have herpes, or they’ll suspect it and they’re gonna give me a fucking pap smear and I’m not sure I can survive that. Seriosuly, have you ever had a q-tip inserted into your urethra? I almost passed out just from writing that.
The silver lining was the odds that the infection was a simple popped blister that hadn’t healed properly, but now it wasn’t because I walked on it every day causing tissue damage and great irritation but because my immune system was shot. That’s right, I assumed –not for the first time– that I hate late stage AIDS and was going to begin enjoying horrible lesions all over my body, catch pnumonia from a rusty nail and die.
Thankfully I am provided medical insurance through the workplace. Not a week and a half before I gave myself herpes and/or AIDS by wearing tight jeans I had actually, for the first time, attempted to exercise my membership with Blue Shield. If you’re unfamiliar Blue Shield is some bureaucratic shadowland that collects various doctors’ names in a hat and you stick your hand in and get a phone number. I had called about this bit of ugliness on my face that has longtime friends asking me if I’ve taken up chewing tobacco (no joke, two people in three days with a third person asking if I had a tooth ache– the rest of the world can’t stomach my countenance enough to comment) and had been told by the receptionist that my doctor is only in the office twice a week and that I can see him in a month.
This works great for me since I’m essentially putting off having to deal with a possibly scary procedure or operation or tongue depressor or suggestion that I make an appointment for some sort for some sort of physical examination. I once went in for strep throat and the fucking nurse tried to transfer me to the shrink after she was done swabbing my tonsils with a q-tip. I had an ulcer and they felt it neccessary to drain my veins and confided in me that most medical theories that the public is aware of are actually being proven wrong all the time. A friend of mine who used to work at a jet propulsion laboratory said the same thing about higher physics.
My favorite recent medical memories (discounting the early, formative years at the Potrero Hill free clinic where I spent a lot of time hiding under desks from a)needles or b)the fire marshall) are when I used to have to go to the chronic pain ward for injections of steroids into my spine. This is the same room where they strap old women to the table and scrape their cervix looking for cancer so I would sit preparing myself for being violated bodily by a needle the size of a pencil listening to polite conversation about winery tours descending into animal screams, curses and crying. I’d get two shots of novacaine first, then had to lean forward off the table to seperate my vertebrae while some Irish woman made fun of me for freaking out and some hack put his shoulder into it. Afterwards they’d spin me around and lay me on the table until the bleeding stopped and they felt it was okay to let me take the bus home alone.
But my throat, spine and a case of food poisoning were all handled by Kaiser which is a self-contained unit, not Blue Shield which has a phone book-sized directory I don’t know how to use. I want a drop in center but don’t want to give my insurance company permission to bill the living hell (before I die of AIDS/herpes) out of me for not following protocol. I call the helpful 800 number and press buttons for the automated answering service while hyperventilating. I press zero for a person to talk to but it’s Sunday and the automated answering service suggests I may want to call back on Monday. I pace around the house while listening to commercials on televsion talking about the great new genital warts medication that helps prevent spread of the virus.
On Monday the happy Blue Shield operator sends me to Mt. Zion where the happy receptionist tells me they don’t have a drop-in center and maybe I should drop in across the street at Kaiser. I’m pretty sure Blue Shield cancels your life insurance if you pull that shit so I end up crossing half the city, limping and pussing all the way, to UCSF on Parnassass. I sit in the waiting room and read a book for a couple of hours.
The nurse asks me routine questions but she seems pretty unhappy with my answers and by the time I’ve told her about my half a pack of cigarettes and my couple beers a night she’s ready to see me suffer. I notice she’s written ‘groin’ on my info sheet. She ties my arm off and takes my blood pressure. This freaks me out, my leg starts spasming and my breathing reaches lamaze rates of speed. Suddenly I’m right back on the Canadian border with a machine gun next to me, stipped to my shorts and telling this fucking mustache I don’t have any drugs on me while he stares at my nervous knee jumping like a kitten on a skillet.
The doctor seems nice, maternal, like she could be someone else’s mom. I’m trying to convince her I can show her my festering wound withing having to take off my boxers and she seems to think that’s a wonderful idea. It almost works. She asks if I’ve been in any hot tubs recently and when I say no she apologizes, seeming embarassed at the suggestion. I was pretty embarassed at my suggestion that I picked the AIDS up from tight jeans but she tells me about a guy that came in earlier today who had the same thing as me– after a one night stand that included exotic oils. Who the fuck uses exotic oil? Wait, one-night stand? Like herpes?
I’m on the table and trying not to mind that my unmentionables are being shoved to the side and my pussy lesion is being prodded. Oh yeah, she says, I know exactly what this is.
Oh yeah, I’ve seen this before, don’t you worry.
You, my friend, have an infected cyst. It’s like a big infected pimple ready to burst. God, that must hurt like crazy. It’s so sensitive right there, you’re in a lot of pain.
Well, I only notice it when I walk…
No, that hurts so much but I’m gonna pop it and drain it and you’re gonna feel so good.
Oh God, ah…
I know, you hate doctors but this is gonna feel so good. Just lay back, just relax, I’m gonna make you feel so good.
(She takes, and I’m not kidding in the least, a sharp stick commonly used for sishkebob from her table of toys)
Okay, I’m gonna fix you right up.
That’s right, you just let it right out. You say whatever you want, you can call me all kindsa names.
Fuck! No, no, it’s not you it’s ah! urg! fuck, GOD! (at this point, confused and agonized yet concerned I’ve hurt this woman’s feelings, I almost pat her on the ass. I stop myself and writhe on the table some more.)
Oh yeah, that hurts doesn’t it? But you’ll feel so good when I’m done. Look, you can see all the pus.(fucking q-tips, again!) Okay, you’re better, that’s it. Now you’re gonna go take a bath and the longer you sit in the bath the better you’re gonna feel. I’ll go write up a prescription for anti-biotics.
The nurse comes in as I’m putting my shoes on and changes the bed mat which is now slick with my discharge. How’d it go? She asks happily. Oh, okay, I reply. The doctor comes back and hands me a script but she doesn’t seem to wanna hang out and talk about it with me. Everyone in the waiting room watches me limp out of the room.
When I’m in line at the pharmacy I notice, hey the girl behind the counter is really cute. She’s polite but she probably didn’t wanna talk to much to me either. I’m pretty sure the medication’s for genital warts or something.