Brutal Life Lesson #2

I was one of those kids that chased anything that moved – bugs, lizards, birds, cats… I’d pretty much pick up anything that wasn’t fast enough to escape my clumsy, but well-meaning clutches.

So, when my parents took me to a beach that was covered in scuttling crabs I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of the little beggars rushing about, popping in and out of little holes in the sand. They were so cute and I was having a blast chasing them around trying to catch them, when suddenly, I hit the jackpot! I found a huge crab and I wanted it so freaking bad.

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This crab seemed to know it was bigger than the others; it didn’t even try to run away from me. It just sat there – daring me to pick it up. Although I wanted more than anything in the world to do so, I was very aware of the size of its claws. So, I just stood there for a time trying to work out the best way to pick it up, while also trying to estimate the potential pain if those claws got a hold of me. As I was pondering these things a kindly old man wandered by and saw my dilemma.

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He explained to me that if I just reached from behind and picked it up with my thumb and index finger then the crab’s claws wouldn’t be able to reach my fingers. It sounded plausible; he seemed like a nice old man and why would a nice old man lie to me? Plus, old people knew stuff about the world. Now that I was armed with this new knowledge I decided to pick up the crab using the kindly old man’s technique.

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I picked up the crab feeling super confident. I turned the crab to face me so I could look at it closely. I was so cool – I knew how to pick up crabs! Suddenly the crab began to reach underneath itself with its giant claws. I didn’t care, because I knew how to pick up crabs!

 

Apparently the crab didn’t know about my special crab-picking-up technique because it casually reached under its belly, grabbed my index finger and pinched it violently until it drew blood. I let out a blood-curdling scream and flung the poor crab to the ground. The old man was nowhere to be seen and I ran off bleeding, screaming and crying to my parents.

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It was about another fifteen years before I understood their enormous amusement when I told them, while crying hysterically, that I was never, ever trusting an old person ever again!

Where did the old man go and what happened to the crab? Who knows?

I have a pretty good idea, though.

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You might also like Brutal Life Lesson #1

Brutal Life Lesson #1

I was not a pretty child when I was five. I had a really bad hair-cut, big, ugly glasses and, for several months, a giant, brown eye-patch over my right eye (to try and strengthen the left one – which didn’t work). I wanted so desperately to be beautiful. If I were beautiful people would love me and buy me presents and I would be a better person all-round. Yep, in my five year-old mind, life would be all rainbows and ice-cream if only I were beautiful.

I remember my first day of school very well because it was the day I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life.

This is what she looked like.

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She had gigantic green eyes with long black lashes, long, jet-black, wavy hair and ivory skin. She looked like a princess and that was exactly how I saw her.

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I was incredibly drawn to her because, from everything Disney and every fairy-tale I had ever read had taught me, I knew that her nature would match her beauty. Why, she must be the kindest girl in the whole school! So, even though I was incredibly shy, I knew that she would be sweet and nice and set off immediately to introduce myself.

This is how it went down.

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By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating about how utterly goofy I looked, here’s my class photo from grade one.

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Hypochondriac

I’m a hypochondriac. This basically means that when I get sick, or something weird happens with my body, I become completely unbearable to live with. It’s not that I am unaware, I totally get that I am ridiculous, but knowing this is not enough to prevent me from spiralling completely out of control into a crumpled mess of histrionics and self-pity.

It’s all about perception. For example:

Hey, I’d love to be one of those people who is totally stoic, never complains and just grins and bears it, but I’m not built that way! Can I help it if I’m just super aware of my fragility, my physicality, my mortality? I’m a control freak, so when my body starts behaving in ways I can’t control I pretty much curl up into the foetal position and await death. I’m hoping by exposing my craziness in a light-hearted manner that my long-suffering husband will perhaps understand me a little better and maybe someday forgive me for the weeks of sheer hell that I’ve just put him through.

It all started about a month ago with a sore throat and earache. After some Googling, I discovered it was most likely throat cancer. This knowledge prevented me from going to the doctor when I should have; I just wasn’t ready to hear my death sentence yet – it was nearly Christmas, for crying out loud. Just let me get through Christmas!

About five days before Christmas my husband made me go to the doctor (not my regular doctor, either, so I really didn’t want to go). I was told I had laryngitis (but I didn’t believe the diagnosis was correct) and was given antibiotics. I started feeling nauseated and dizzy towards the end of the course and blamed it on the antibiotics. A week after finishing them I had vertigo so bad that I could barely move my eyes.  My extensive Internet research told me that the ongoing nausea and dizziness must have another cause (as antibiotics don’t stay in your system for that long). The fact that the antibiotics hadn’t made me feel better only proved to me that the original diagnosis was wrong.

My regular doctor was away over the Christmas/New Year period and when she finally did come back to work she was immediately booked out for a whole week. Why didn’t I want to see another doctor? Because I’m loyal, dammit. I love my doctor. I trust only her and will never leave her (barring some kind of restraining order). Anyhoo, I made an appointment for a week’s time and spent the next seven days trying to find a cause for my symptoms like some kind of obsessive House wannabe.

It wasn’t long before my husband couldn’t take it anymore and marched me off to the walk-in centre. I didn’t want go, I wanted to wait and see my regular doctor (who is some sort of squishy, lovely, angel doctor with the logic of Spock, the patience of Buddha and the sweetness of Shirley Temple). I waited for two hours and paid forty dollars for a consultation that literally lasted less than two minutes. The doctor didn’t even sit down; he looked at my throat for less than a millisecond, said, “Yes, your throat is very swollen”, gave me a script for Stemzine (medication for the dizziness) then told me, and I quote, “If the dizziness does not go away in six weeks, get a brain scan because it might be a brain tumour.”

Might.be.a.brain.tumour.

My husband and I had quite different reactions on hearing this. It looked something like this.

It was just what my husband needed at this point. A doctor telling his totally manic, hypochondriac wife that she might have a brain tumour.

This is my perception of how the consultation went down.

I was absolutely horrified. What kind of doctor tells you that your throat is swollen and then does absolutely nothing about it? What kind of doctor tells you that you might have a brain tumour based on almost zero information? Walk-in centres blow. Big time.

The appointment with my squishy, lovely, angel doctor could not arrive soon enough. She put me on a course of stronger antibiotics and reassured me that I don’t have a brain tumour as the dizziness is most likely due to my hayfever and throat infection. I felt comforted and happy when I left her office. Everything was going to be juuust fine.

Or, so I thought. I woke up this morning with my right ear completely blocked and my left ear throbbing painfully. But it’s okay, I’ve narrowed it down to vestibular neuritis, Menier’s disease or referred otalgia due to a decaying tooth that desperately needs looking at.

I really should go see my dentist.

Socially Inappropriate Security Guard Guy

I’m pretty sure we’ve all met someone like him. He’s the guy who approaches you with what, at first, appears to be a simple, friendly greeting. You respond with an equally friendly greeting because, well, it’s polite (and you’re not a total bastard). However, after about four minutes of mind-numbing small talk, interspersed with disturbing, uninvited insights into his personal life, you realise you’ve been tricked. But by then it’s too late – you’re in a one-sided conversation with socially-inappropriate security guard guy.

I recently visited country Victoria to spend Christmas with my parents and my sister and her family. I was warned by my sister that a large number of inhabitants of a nearby town (which shall remain nameless) seemed to be “not quite right”. Intrigued by this information, my husband and I jumped in the car, and took our son and nephew along for the drive.

When we arrived we bought the kids some bakery delights and sat at a table on the sidewalk of the main street.

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This also happened to be the exact moment that socially-inappropriate security guard guy went on his smoke break. (I know back when I was a smoker and went outside for a cigarette, the first thing I always did was find some young children and light up right next to them.)

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Now, I tell you with no exaggeration that this man proceeded to talk non-stop for fifteen minutes. After what we thought was just going to be a pleasant (and brief) greeting we suddenly found ourselves held captive by a man who apparently had millions of things to say and not enough people to say them to.

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He didn’t care that we had stopped listening. He didn’t notice our uncomfortable body language. He didn’t see my husband and I exchange glances of disbelief. He was even oblivious to the fact that my son had somehow managed to swallow his loose tooth.

Socially-inappropriate security guard guy just kept on yammering while my husband and I attended to my son’s emotional distress. I eventually had to interrupt him, “Excuse me, my son just swallowed his tooth”. He barely even skipped a beat. That’s right, he just kept on telling us things while I tried not to vomit at the thought of swallowing a mouthful of chocolate eclair mixed with blood and tooth.

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Eventually we said goodbye to the insane, annoying security guard and drove back to my sister’s house to relay our adventures of the town nearby. The moral of this story? Don’t drive to the next town over in the hopes of finding people who seem “not quite right”, because you might actually find them.

Oh, and it is my firm belief that this is what happened after we left.

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Happy New Year!

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I don’t normally do the whole New Year’s resolution thing, but there are some pressing things that I know I need to work on, and I figure that the coming new year is as good a time as any to start. So, here’s my list (which is subject to change at my whim):


1. Stop Googling my symptoms at 2 am

2. Do more yoga

3. Leave my house occasionally and mix with the other humans

4. Turn 40 in November with some sense of grace and dignity (not likely)

5. Get back into my size ten clothes

6. Drink fewer White Russians (which will help with #5)

7. Produce more art

8. Read more books

9. Grow my own vegetables

10. Try harder

Happy New Year, everyone, and if you want to share your resolutions with me I’d love to hear them!