Saturday, bouts of dizziness, drops of blood on the floor and an impending iPod consolation prize

“Here… watch this.” My step-father, Jay, said to me and handed me his iPhone. A minute ago he had been complaining about the poor cellular service, since there is no 3G in Middletown, NY.

“There’s blood on the floor.” I said.


“Right over there…” I pointed to a spot on the tile below the disposal for the sharps. There were three bright red drops, organized in a way that could only be the result of random spillage. Since they were so bright red, I figured the drops were pretty fresh, possibly from the person that was there in the examining room before me.

“Don’t worry about it. Watch the video.” He insisted.

“Why are you here anyway? I’m 29 years old for christ’s sake, you can wait in the waiting room.”

“Dude, seriously? There’s more germs out there! At least in here they clean once in a while.” He made a valid point. “Besides, you saw the people out there… bunch of freaks, man.”

I looked back down at the blood on the floor and then back at him. “You’re sure about the clean part?”

“Oh my god… quit being such a wuss and just watch the fucking video.” He replied. It was a video of a barbershop quartet singing the Ewok victory song from Star Wars – Return of the Jedi. It was really good and it made me laugh.

“You know…” I began, “it would be really funny if I talked like an Ewok when the doctor came in.” Jay laughed.

“You could tell him that you don’t know what’s wrong with me, that I’m having bouts of dizziness and for some reason won’t stop talking like an Ewok.” My step-father laughed again.

“That would be awesome, you should do it.” He said. Just then the doctor walked in. He introduced himself and spoke with a heavy accent. I couldn’t figure out if he was French or African. Neither would have surprised me.

“How can I help you today?” He asked.

“Yub nub… e chop, yub nub.” I replied. He looked puzzled at me for a second and then at my step-father. Jay was struggling to contain his laughter.

“Excuse me?!”

I couldn’t maintain. “I’m sorry doc, I was just messing with you.” And I started balling laughing. The doctor wasn’t very amused.

“Ok ok…” I composed myself. “I’ve been getting dizzy all day today. It’s like whenever I’m laying down or sitting and stand up I get really dizzy for like, 5-10 seconds.”

“Are you in any pain?” The doctor asked.

“No pain… but it’s annoying as all hell.” I said. The doctor shook his head and checked my vitals. He did that thing doctors do with putting the stethoscope to your chest, tell you to breath normally, then put it to your back and tell you to breath heavy. Then he had me do a couple of fine motor tests, having me put my arms out and resist him pressing up and down on my arms alternatively. I wondered why he was doing this because I knew from my own reading these were nervous system tests.

“Ok.” He said, “I’m going to go look at your chart and be back in a few minutes.”

Ten minutes pass.

“Jesus. Is this guy ever coming back?” I asked rhetorically.

“Deal with it…” My stepfather answered. “He’ll be back in a minute.”

“Seriously though, this is ridiculous. How long does it take to look at a chart? I mean I know he’s going to come back and tell me that there is probably something wrong in my inner ear. And if he says I have positional vertigo I’m going to go ape-shit. I could have figured that out from Wikipedia.”

I had actually looked up positional vertigo before I left for the doctor’s office. In fact, it was after reading about this that I stood up to go use the bathroom and almost immediately lost my balance and went to the floor. That was when I decided it was time to go to the doctor. Unfortunately it was a Saturday, and I would have to settle for a doc-in-the-box walk in clinic.

The doctor came back in.

“What you have is what is called positional vertigo.” I looked over at my step-father in disgust. “It is likely caused by an issue with your inner ear. I’m going to give you a pill now and prescription for some pills that may or may not help with the dizziness. The nurse will come in shortly and give you those. I want you also to schedule a visit with a neurologist on Monday.”

“A neurologist?” I said, “… why?” But before the doctor could explain, my step-father interrupted.

“So he probably shouldn’t be driving, right?”

“Oh no… definitely no driving.” The doctor said, smiled and pat me on the leg. He turned and started walking out of the room.

“… no, no driving!” he yelled as he walked down the hall. I looked at my step-father.

“That dude is weird like a 9-dollar bill. Let’s get the fuck out of here.” He agreed and reminded me that we had to wait for the nurse to give me my medicine. After five minutes the nurse, a middle-aged woman, appeared and handed me a medicine cup with a single pill in it.

“So…” I began, “this is the one that makes me smaller, right?” My step-father chuckled but the nurse looked at me with a blank stare. I guess she had never heard of Alice in Wonderland? She looked at my step-father dumbfounded. He tried to help.

“You know… one pill makes you smaller, one pill makes you tall.”

“Oh… right…” The nurse said, “… and the ones that mother gave you, do nothing at all.” She quoted Grace Slick and White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. It wasn’t quite what I was going for, but it was something.

There was an uncomfortable silence and I took the pill.

“So how long before that thing takes effect?” Jay asked of the nurse.

“Oh not long…” She said. “I mean, it’s a low dose but when I take them they start working pretty quickly.”

I shook my head in approval. When the nurse wasn’t looking I glanced over at my step-father and gave him a concerned look. I mouth the words, “When she takes them?” I wondered why on earth she had readily available personal experience on medicines for preventing vertigo, or as the doctor had said, maybe… maybe not preventing vertigo.

I didn’t feel like asking. I didn’t want to be there anymore and just wanted to get out of the examining room.

“Fuck it, let’s go.” I said, and hopped off the examining table. Just as I did that the room started spinning and I shot my arm out at the wall to steady myself. Jay stopped and looked at me, and after a few seconds I waved it off, indicating I was ok.

We walked out to the front desk to pay for my bill. The co-pay was $30 and my step-father asked, “why does your insurance suck so bad?”

“You should be happy that you have insurance at all.” The receptionist stated, possibly wanting to stir up a conversation on current events but I wasn’t in the frame of mind. I handed her my American Express card to pay for the visit.

“Might as well get the points for it…” I said, “after this, I’ll have enough to get an iPod from the Amex website.” And that, coupled with the prescription in hand, seemed like a pretty good consolation prize to me.


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