I got the idea a few months ago to write a short story about a girl in her twenties who ages rapidly from the inside out. Her outside remains that of a young, nubile, muscular body, but her insides are that of an eighty-year-old woman’s.
In short, me.
I haven’t written the story yet, and I’m hereby copyrighting the idea, so please don’t steal it from me. Of course, now that I’ve written down my idea in a public place, the story will probably never get written. That’s what happens with writing, I’ve found. It’s best not to talk about it ahead of time.
Anyway, I have the body of an old woman, except you can’t tell by looking at me. I have arthritis and bursitis and acid reflux and astigmatism and eye floaters and tracers and who knows what else. A brain tumor? Sure. Maybe my ovaries are also probably empty and my uterus shriveled up. Never can tell.
And now I have a herniated cervical disc.
It took two sets of X-rays, an MRI, and six weeks for the doctors to determine that this is what is wrong with me. When I called my mom to give her the diagnosis, she was quiet for a bit, and then said, “You’re a little young for that.”
An injury such as this is usually the result of some bodily trauma, such as a car accident. My chiropractor said that my neck looks like I’ve got whiplash. Over and over, doctors ask me what happened. My answer?
Y’all. I got a herniated cervical disc from sitting down and bending over ads all day.
I was working on a theory that my body is literally rejecting my job, like that time I didn’t want to be married anymore and got a urinary tract infection anytime then-Husband even looked at me. But then I got a UTI recently, presumably from now-Boyfriend, so that simile went to hell, but I think the theory still holds.
Either way, I’m pretty sure the human body simply was not meant to remain seated, much less hunched over, for eight hours a day. And the fact that I’m sacrificing my body for work I don’t really believe in doesn’t much help.
As part of my treatment I have to go see an orthopedist whose office I hate.
These are some of the reasons I hate it:
It has a huge aquarium, and aquariums are depressing to anyone who’s seen Finding Nemo. The fish can’t swim anywhere but in the same loop around the coral, and they are meant to be swimming freely in the expansive ocean. (Do you catch the correlation between the fish and me?) However, today I looked the zebra-striped one, who seems to be fond of me, in the eye and said, “at least you’re not in the Gulf.” A cold comfort.
It is decorated like an early ’90s department store, dusty rose everywhere, like something out of any one of the Saved by the Bell episodes that took place in a mall.
There is no constant presence behind the front desk, only people who mill around among the files. Sometimes they copy things, sometimes they shred things, but they never do anything else, including speak English or help me.
Perhaps correspondingly, a regular appointment takes about three hours on average, and every time I go, a disgruntled patient is complaining loudly about how they have been there for THREE HOURS, and they have a JOB they need to get to, and it’s like this EVERY TIME they come, what kind of operation is this, ANYWAY?
The magazine selection is terrible: A/W, ESPN, Sporting News, WebMD, Texas Highways, Outside, Discover.
The lighting is dim. Creepily so, like something out of a nightmare.
Every room contains the same diagram of “The Amazing Back,” which does not at all look like my current back sitch, and basically proclaims, “Your back is NOT amazing. It is fucked up. From PROOFREADING.”
You see the top of the spine, how it curves slightly to the left? Yeah, mine curves to the right. I’ve got X-rays to prove it.
The nurses always leave the examination room doors open. I’m not fond of other patients walking by and gawking at me.
And the visits are always such a joy. Today I got a three-inch needle containing a large amount of cortisone stuck into my right shoulder, and now it hurts worse than my shoulder ever hurt before.
For your sake, I did not take a picture of the needle.
But the real reason I’m writing this post is not to complain about my maladies, which would make me evermore like an old person.
It is to tell you this: after the physician’s assistant injected the lidocaine into my shoulder to prep me for the real (painful) shot, he said, “These needles are fun because you can do this,” and then he tossed the used needle like a dart into the seat of one of the chairs in the room. The nurse playfully said, “Don’t you do that!” to him as he laughed maniacally, and I wondered aloud, “Isn’t that a biohazard?”
Won’t be sitting in these chairs again.