Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take 2 Aspirin and Google in the Morning

It started with the feeling of being hungry and led to cramps and severe pain. I tossed and turned in bed all night switching from a fetal position to lying on my stomach wishing to smother the pain. I woke after getting about 2 1/2 hours of sleep. The cramps retreated to the lower right section of my abdomen, localized near my pelvis.

On my way to work I stopped at the drug store and bought Gas-X. I kidded myself that it was simply gas; in the back of my mind I knew it was something worse.

After unsuccessfully getting 'real' work done, I decided to do some investigative work. Against the advice of J, I logged onto WebMD and entered my symptoms. All the results pointed to one culprit: Appendicitis. My heart thumped and I broke out into a sweat. This is it. This is what I have, I thought. I called my doctors office and asked if they could see me that day.

If you were to decorate a room using "Design Within Reach" furniture and photograph it for "Real Simple" magazine you would have my doctor's office. There a 2 large sofa's, a glass and steel coffee table, and a leather magazine rack in the spacious waiting room. With all of the soft lighting, I was expecting to see Diane Sawyer appear and conduct an interview. The receptionist’s counter was crafted from smooth white marble and it stretched wall-to-wall, which is about 30 feet. The only inhabitant on the deserted counter was a lone white lily. I imagined my doctor telling the decorator "Clean surfaces. I want to see clean surfaces, no clutter! If I didn't already know my doctor was gay, I would have guessed it the moment I walked in.

My doctor was unavailable so I saw his colleague. I had never met this man before and I don't remember his name now but for the sake of the story I will call him Dr. Tightpants. I told Dr. Tightpants my symptoms and that I believed it was Appendicitis. He ran through his routine of checking my breathing, blood pressure and peering into my eyes and ears. He asked to me lay down and pressed on the area in question. He told me he didn't think it was Appendicitis. He thought maybe it was something I ate but suggested I go to the emergency room if I thought it was serious. Not sure why I spent time calling the doctor's office, leaving work and taking metro to get advice I had already given myself. I questioned the legitimacy of his framed diplomas hanging on the ‘morning dew’ colored wall.

I begrudgingly paid my co-pay and left. I hailed a cab and told the driver to take me to George Washington University hospital. I surprisingly remained calm because I didn’t know for sure and there was a chance the doctor was right. 5 hours later I was being prepped in the O.R. to have my appendix removed. Thanks Dr Tightpants!

I've heard that men can go through a hormonal change as they get older so I recently Googled "Male Menopause.” Perhaps what I’ve been feeling lately is chemical. The medical community calls male menopause, Andropause and it’s essentially the loss of Testosterone (I honestly don’t think I had very much to begin with). I compared what my body has been going through to a list of common symptoms.

  • Reduced sexual desire (get the hell off of me!)
  • Infertility (doesn’t matter)
  • Loss of body and pubic hair (This hasn’t happened but I trim so it would be convenient)
  • Hot flashes and sweats (God, I sweat like Whitney Houston)
  • Poor concentration and memory (What is this list for again?)
  • Height loss and thinning bones (I’m still 6’2 and how can I tell if my bones are thinning?)
  • Swollen or tender breasts (my man tits are still flat)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Not So Tragic Event on 9/11

J and I met in a bar the last week of August 2001. He passed me in the crowd on his way to the restroom and stopped to introduce himself on the way back. We talked and laughed in the dark thumping basement bar. I asked if minded that I smoked; he pulled out a lighter from his pack of cigarettes and lit me. We talked about our jobs, where we've lived and family. As the night wore on, we got physically closer and made out. I'm not one of those people that engage in public displays of affection but it felt good and I didn’t give a shit. I wrote down my name and number on a matchbook. I know it's very cliché but then again so is making out in a bar. He asked my middle name and I told him it was Eugene. He got a kick out that so when I scribbled my name in the matchbook I included Eugene. The night was wrapping up and he offered me a ride home. I only lived 4 blocks from the bar but accepted his offer; it would give us more time to kiss.

We strode the street hand-in-hand complaining about the summer humidity in D.C. As we got closer to his car, he unlocked it with the electronic door opener. Parking lights flashed on a silver 2-door Mercedes convertible. I said "nice car" but thought "Holy shit!" He opened the door and I slid into the black leather seat. He glided in beside me, started the car, and hit a button that lowered the roof. I gave him directions to my apartment. The sticky air swatted at my hair as I looked up trying to find the stars hidden behind the haze. He pulled up in front of my building and we kissed good night. He said he would call me and I knew he would.

We spoke on the phone 2 days later. He was having his house remodeled and didn't have a lot of free time at the moment. I was ok with that because I wasn't really sure if I was interested. I knew I liked him but he was 7 years older, shorter than I preferred and seemed very stable. There's nothing wrong with being stable, I just didn't know if stable would be interested in me.

A few days later I was on my way to Michigan to visit a friend for a week. While I was away, J was going to Greece on vacation. Our trips would overlap so we decided our first official date would be Thursday, September 13.

I got to work early on Tuesday morning, the week of our date. I was sitting in my cubicle when my friend and colleague Dee appeared in my doorway with a look of panic. Dee was in her mid 20's, had a raspy voice, tons of curly brown hair and a crunchy edge; guys liked Dee. "A plane just hit the World Trade Center." I hate to say it but it took me a few seconds to recall where the WTC was and what it looked like. Like most people, we both assumed it was a freak accident. A while later Dee popped her head in my cube and told me another plane hit the second tower. I didn't know what was happening but I called 2 of my friends who lived in Jersey City. I was able to reach them and confirmed they were ok. Their confusion and fear came through the receiver loud and clear.

The office staff watched the horrific story unfold on the conference room TV and since our building was 3 blocks from the White House, we were told to go home. When I got back to my cube to gather my things, my phone rang, it was J. He said he wasn't sure why but he thought of me and wanted to make sure I was ok. A piece of my cynical heart melted and I was glad to hear he was ok too. He was stuck in the city at Union Station and was unable to drive over the bridge to get home. I told him I was leaving the office and suggested we get together for lunch. I gave him my work address and waited on the sidewalk for him to pick me up.