CHAPTER I: Waking the Dead“Your Aunt G could certainly use a few days off from the Mortuary” my Mom fretted long-distance over the phone as my fever continued to spike. “She’s only a couple of hours away, and I’m sure she’d be happy to come take care of you”. (EEK!)
Granted I was a wee bit hazy from the elevated temperature, but as the phrase “take care of you” may imply a cold compress and a comforting cup of broth to most clans, in my Addams Family, more than likely I was looking at a full-on road trip with my Aunt G in the Hearse, casket with my measurements already on board, a lovely selection of satin pillows awaiting my final consent to descend.
“I’ll be fine!” I conjectured, cranking on the air conditioner until I was a proper blend of cold and clammy; an unnatural shade of gray washing over my face like a pall just in time for my High Holy Holiday of Halloween. (Hmm... Did I thereby qualify for the roles of both ‘The Decedent’ AND ‘Pall Bearer’? But I digress!)To be quite honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I’d truly walk amongst the living ever again. Would the postal carrier become frustrated by the overflow in my snail mail box and eventually dial 911? Would ever-so-handsome EMTs break down my door to strap me into a gurney as I sucked my last earthly breath? And if so, would I have the strength to daub on a bit of makeup before being rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital where all of the A-list celebrities seem to go to die?
>><<*knock knock knock*
“You look like Hell” my Midwest friend Tina stood on my doorstep, hamburger bag in hand (acutely aware of the healing powers of Cow). “I’m taking you to the clinic” she asserted, passing me the beef as if its presence might at least provide an modicum of comfort as I clutched Cow like a teddy bear.“Can’t tie shoes” I whimpered, staring down at my skull and crossbones pajama pants (with the festive green palm trees!), refusing to budge without my verdant matching sneakers. (Don’t know why, but in my feverish state, Cow and I determined that this particular fashion choice was non-negotiable.)
With my weight, blood pressure and temperature taken (all a tad elevated that day), a lovely Phlebologist dressed like a Supermodel clippety-clopped in her stiletto heels for a few vials of my vital fluids. “Do you always dress like that for work?” my friend Tina asked skeptically (Cow and I merely assuming we were suffering from delusions).“Oh, this? No, I have an audition in a couple of hours!” the practitioner beamed, temporarily blinding us with her Chiclet-white teeth. “Now you may want to look away” she suggested helpfully (yeah, like I could see anything after the ‘bleach party blingo’ in her mouth), under the guise that perchance I might be faint of heart at the sight of blood. Unfortunately however, apparently SHE was the one infinitely most uncomfortable as she mercilessly poked and prodded me like a toddler playing her first ever game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
“I hope you get the part!” I offered sincerely as the worst Phlebologist whatever lived clopped out the door, leaving me wincing at the disturbingly monster-sized bruise developing in the crook of my elbow. (“And call me if they need to cast the role of ‘Heroine Junkie in Skull and Crossbones Pajamas’, FFS”, I thought.)Now despite my friend Tina’s angelic attempts to help keep my spirits up, the longer I sat in that God-Forsaken room, the higher my anxiety levels became. And picking mindlessly at a patch of dry skin my chapped lip, I suddenly found my face spurting blood like a hemophiliac. “Here’s a tissue” lovely-but-useless Chiclet-teeth gagged as the paper membranes stuck unpleasantly to my mouth like mummy wrappings.
“A wet towel is best” another woman jostled her way past, urging me to apply pressure to the wound.“I take care of this” a Doctor suddenly appeared with gauze and a styptic pencil, dabbing at my face until a large black coagulated lump appeared; an ugly blob which left me looking like I’d barely made it through one boxing round with Mike Tyson. “I speak to you when test results are back” he informed me smugly lest I sat unaware of his brilliance, his intuitiveness and overall generosity for not performing a labial amputation.
“We’ll just get a urine sample from you now before you leave, and you can bring the rest of these items back tomorrow” Ms. Wet Towel informed me, politely handing me a to-go goodie bag. (Oh boy! Trick or treat!” I thought happily. “I hope it’s the good candy like Snickers and not the cheap crap!”)Hmmm...
While I’d not in fact been given any Snickers, clearly The Universe was having a hearty chuckle at my expense; as for the life of me (if you will), I stood stupidly in my kitchen, unable to mentally process the utility of the items before me.Now granted there’s not much of a formal dress code on the streets of West Hollywood (particularly around Halloween and Carnival), but how on Earth was wearing a plastic cowboy hat with only half a brim going to cure me of that which ailed me?
Regrettably, examining the accompanying vile vials with the “TOXIC” labels and the enclosed instruction manual, I learned far too quickly that whilst the Stetson may be one man’s fashion choice in Texas, my “hat” was clearly designated for a, shall we say, more southern destination – the mere thought of which immediately trussed up my giblets like an uncooperative turkey on Thanksgiving Day.However, assuming that the worst of my woes were over, and texting my friend Tina for a ride the next day (my fever had broken, but I had no business driving just yet), I simply typed “the eagle has landed”. And scuttling back to the clinic with my “goodie bag” (joke’s on me!) and the same God-Forsaken room, we waited ‘patiently’ (if you will) for the benevolent Doctor to grace us with his presence.
Unfortunately, “malevolent” would’ve been a significantly more appropriate adjective, as I sat in a stupor whilst Dr. “Ish-Kabish-I-AM-speaking-English” trampled all over my native tongue in an attempt to explain my blood work, my mortally critical condition and my perilously on-the-verge-of-death diagnosis. Had he his way, apparently I needed to be shipped IMMEDIATELY to a facility in The Valley for weeks of observation, followed by extensive visits to his colleague Internist Dr. “Tabouleh-Salad”, wherein I could theoretically live out the rest of my pathetic life in Western Civilization under the thumbs of a team of Middle Eastern “shah-men” intent on dressing me in draperies and pelting me into submission with rocks until I subserviently agreed to whatever the f**k else they could think of to hemorrhage my insurance carrier.Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Did he say “The Valley?” (Insert blood-curdling scream!)>>><<<
CHAPTER II: Dawning of the DeadBlissfully back under the care of my Chicago-born primary Physician (now that’s an accent I can understand!), he admitted to being baffled by the interpretation from Evil Dr. Ish-Kabish. “Your cholesterol’s good, thyroid’s good, you’re not anemic; frankly there’s nothing here to suggest anything other than you probably had the flu and maybe some wicked menopausal hot flashes that kept you from eating right and getting well” he handed me my clean bill of health. “In fact the only number which strikes me as kind of low is your platelet count.”
“Meaning?” I inquired.“Eat more leafy greens and take a B-complex vitamin with Folic Acid” he suggested. “Platelets help to make your blood clot.”
And just like that, my world made sense! No WONDER my lip had bled so profusely! Why, I hadn’t eaten anything green in probably three>>><<<
And as if The Universe wished me to be in on the joke, I couldn’t help
but laugh that with all of my vampirific tendencies of lurking about on
unemployed late nights, my monster bed lovingly named Vladimir and the fact
that for decades I’ve had a coffin as the centerpiece of my bat-cave’s décor,
OF COURSE my body had selected an appropriate albeit unusual malady! (I was
about to insert a blood-curdling scream of delight here, but until I ingested
some leafy greens, I didn’t wish to waste valuable platelets on “curdling” lest I needed to clot later.)
CHAPTER III: Twilight of the DeadWith an early morning appointment set up for a couple of routine ultrasounds as a baseline for Dr. Chicago, I polished off my daily salad (no Cow, but plenty of cheese!) and chilled out for the evening. As I had been forbidden any food or water 8 hours prior to the testing, I’d barricaded the refrigerator so as to remind me should I sleepwalk for some refreshing H2O in the middle of the night, and as I slurped my last sip at 1:29am, I curled up in Vladimir for a relaxing, rejuvenating respite.
*sniffle, sniffle, sniffle*And nonchalantly reaching for a tissue, I innocently blew my nose as a warm stream of something very, VERY wrong poured down my elbows. “Well, that can’t be good” I surmised, stumbling into the bathroom for a look-see as oceans of blood drained from my nostrils like a faucet without a stopper.
Oh, but I’d had nose bleeds before, so how bad could it be? More than likely, one hearty blow and the irritant would be dislodged, right?
WARNING: Those of you who are TRULY faint of heart at the sight of blood, need IMMEDIATELY scroll down past the photo below.)Hmmm...
Forcefully pinching my nostrils shut with fistfuls of tissues and toilet paper, I managed to scrounge under the sink for some old tampons – a nifty little trick I’d learned from an episode of “Sex and the City” – and cramming a couple of Tampax up my nares, I was certain that I’d fixed the problem.Unfortunately, saturating useless tampon after useless tampon, each with its own gruesome dangling globule, I was beginning to panic as the Tampax box was nearly empty, and the clock evinced that I’d been hemorrhaging for a full 45 minutes. EEK!
“911, what is the address you’re calling from?” the lady on my landline inquired as shared my location and asked if she might send over a Paramedic to assist me. “You just sit tight Penny, and try not to move too much” she spoke comfortingly.Try not to move too much? But I had a million tasks to tackle before I could POSSIBLY allow strangers into my Sanctuary!
Remarkably, I had the presence of mind to kick a rock under the security gate to prop it open (as well as slide an area rug over a carpet stain); I too managed to remember to leave my door ajar with the living room lights on (brushing away a cobweb); I’d already pulled on my skull and crossbones pajama pants, but as matching verdant sneakers were un-tie-able with only one hand, the laces needed to be tucked into the shoes themselves. Additionally, I’d moved my purse with ID, cash, credit cards, proof of health insurance and cell phone onto my coffin-table (and recycled an Amazon box so as not to be deemed a ‘hoarder’), confirmed that my house keys were within reach, and finally settling down in the bathroom to switch out my blood-soaked paper towels (yeah, “twice as absorbent” my ass), I waved in the Firemen and Paramedics who wished me to meet them halfway. “OK” I replied with a muffle. “But you’re going to need to see this” I pointed to the carnage splattered all over my restroom like a scene straight out of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.“Just sit down here” a female voice guided me by the elbow to a chair as I couldn’t quite see through all of the red streaks on my glasses. “I’m sure it’s not that bad” she assured me as I twice challenged her choice to have me lower my paper towels. “Okay, WOW, it IS that bad!” she grimaced, immediately placing my hands back over my sanguine streaming face. “We’re going to have to take you to the hospital” she announced, waving over two EMTs (I couldn’t even see if they were handsome, darnit!) to strap me onto the gurney.
“Where are we going?” I asked as the rest of the life-saving team thoughtfully collected my purse and keys.“Cedars-Sinai” someone replied.
Of course.To be continued...