Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oh, the nerve!

Suddenly I’ve become a shaky lady. Well, that’s better than being shady, for sure!

Two days ago, I paid a visit to a neurologist at Mount Sinai Hospital because I suspect I have thoracic outlet syndrome. No, that’s not one of discount malls on the outskirts of town! I’ve been a computer jockey for so long that my ulnar nerve, which runs down from the spine to the pinky and ring finger, is most likely compressed. So my pinky finger shakes, gets numb, tingly and hot. (If you want to feel your ulnar nerve, strike your funny bone.)

But I digress … I had to wait three hours to see the doctor. Is anyone else annoyed by the fact that a 2:30 appointment means 5:30? This is billable time! Can I send the doctor an invoice? Due upon receipt?

So you arrive, write a Russian novel about your medical history until your hand starts to cramp and then realize your handwriting is just as bad as the doctor’s penmanship, straight from the school of illegible chicken scratch. At that point you answer questions like “have you been treated for this before?” with “no, that’s why I’m here, you dumb ass!” Then you sit your dumb ass down and wait. Yes, wait. That’s why it’s called a waiting room and why you are patient.

Two and half-hours into my appointment, the receptionist ushers me into a second waiting room, where I tested my vision with the chart and fumbled around with plastic skeleton parts. Not knowing what to do next, I sat down on the edge of a chair, put my hands in meditation position and started to perform yogic breathing. And that’s when the shtick started, because it took me a few minutes to realize that the doctor was standing right in front of me watching me with a somewhat puzzled smirk on his face!

The doctor – let’s call him Zhivago -- led me into his office and shook my hand to meet me officially. He then looked at my Russian novel and commented that I had written more than any patient he had ever treated. Zhivago was very impressed with the fact that I knew big words like THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME, CUBITAL TUNNEL and ULNAR NERVE ENTRAPMENT. “You’re very smart,” he commented right there under the very unflattering fluorescent lights. (How come that sort of compliment never happens under better lighting when you meet a guy at a bar?)

Our chitchat diverted into my personal life, because you know, a good patient tells a doctor EVERYTHING. Shaky pinky digressed into a marathon kvetch: “How am I? You want to know how I am? I'll tell you how I am! What with my weight gain, my travesty of a relationship with my ex-boyfriend, how I sank into depression, had succumbed to anxiety attacks and agoraphobia, how of all the damn psychotherapists on Miami Beach, the one I chose for treatment lived and worked in the same building as my ex-boyfriend, come on, what are the odds? ... " (Why you can only pour your heart out to a compassionate professional after shelling out some bucks, God only knows.) At that point, I didn’t know if I was at a neurologist or a shrink. And then I had to wonder, when you are nervous wreck, who better to cure you than a specialist on nerves?

But Zhivago was very compassionate. “Don't worry, M, everyone’s depressed about something at some point in their lives.” And this was followed by the final obligatory evaluation question: “Are you nuts?”

Pregnant pause. “Nutty, yes, nuts, no.”

Then Zhivago led me by the hand to the examination table like a gentleman, as if he were pulling out the chair for me at a restaurant and saying, "ladies first." Nice touch, doctor!

I’d learn more about this doctor’s nice touch in the ensuing minutes. I had no idea that an initial neurological exam involved feeling up the patient! Not in an OB/GYN sort of way, mind you, which is very clinical and boring – this was far more interesting: fully clothed foreplay!

The first thing he did was to take my hands and put them on my lap. He noticed the shaky pinky. “Don’t be nervous,” he said. “I’m very easy to get along with.” (Yeah right ... famous first words!) Then, after asking me to grab his hands really hard to test my strength, he proceeded to gyrate my wrists and elbows. I looked out the window because he was standing rather close to me. Then he said, “I like to close my eyes so I can feel every sensation.” And I’m glad his eyes were closed because I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Then he asked me to close my eyes and he gently caressed my face and squeezed my ear lobes.

Zhivago: “Can you feel this?”

Interior Monologue: Well, of course I can feel it, you idiot! And it feels amazingly good!

Then the exam went from vanilla to kinky in two seconds flat. He took a pin and started to gently prick me over every bit of exposed skin.

Zhivago: “Can you feel this?”

Interior Monologue: Ooooh, that’s kind of nice …

And like every good Russian novel, this medical exam had a beginning, middle, and climactic end. After tapping my knee with a rubber implement to check for reflexes, he brought out some metal instruments, my favorite being a vibrating rod used for the medical equivalent of an activity that would be appreciated by anyone with a foot fetish.

Zhivago: “Take off your shoes, please. I’m going to test sensation on the soles of your feet.”

No interior monologue this time. I just let it all out, with a very giggly, high-pitched “ooooh, that tickles!”

Ah, yes, so sad is the condition of being chronically single, that a visit to the neurologist gives you cheap thrills.

So will this Lara see her Doctor Zhivago again? Oh yes indeed! He gave me plenty of opportunities for additional poking and prodding: Thyroid, just in case the old gland went the way of the tortoise instead of the hare. MRI, just in case a tumor made its way into my brain like a meatball in the old noodle. Oh, and a nerve conduction test: that’s when they attach sensors to your body, sort of like an electric chair that doesn’t kill you.

I can only imagine what the second visit will be like! Who wants to be a nervous wreck when you can have nervous bliss?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Big Fat Famous Cuban Ass

Why is everyone obsessed with my ass?

This year I put on weight after going on birth control to please my ex, Mr. Huge. BIG MISTAKE, and I mean BIG. I got depressed and fat, but fortunately enlightened to the fact that when women fall in love, we also fall stupid. I'll never do anything again to please a man who doesn't respect my body!

But I digress .... now I'm working with a personal trainer -- and I mean work -- he's busting my ass into marathon shape! So in spite of the fact that I was blessed with a great figure, right now it's concealed in a soft, cuddly layer of blubber. And I already regret the day when in just a few months, the topic of my ass will be "so last year."

You see, I am now wearing size 12 petite jeans and they're still a little snug. My mother wants me to buy bigger jeans and I don't know about you, but buying the perfect pair of jeans, regardless of your size, is like getting a master's degree in personal humiliation. It takes weeks of research! And I wonder, what's the big fucking deal? So what if my ass is big now? Who really gives a rat's ass? It's as if my entire person, mind and soul included, is overshadowed by this monstrosity that clings to my backside, like a tumor. I'm not supposed to wear these fat jeans because apparently, God forbid, you can see that I'm fat and I have to hide the fact from the world, like David Copperfield making the Empire State Building disappear in a little black dress.

Horror of horrors! The repercussions of this are tragic! BOTTOM LINE: in my current state, you can bet your ass no man will even look at me! No man will ask me out on a date! No man will ever marry me or want to be the father of my children! In short, I'll never be someone's piece of ass!

And if all they see when they look at me is that Mount Everest of a rump, how will they even notice my shimmering blue eyes? My ability to saunter in stilleto heels? My big boobs? Yes, how come no one complains about the size of my boobs? For heaven's sake, isn't the possession of tits and ass a valued commodity?

The only people who pester me about my ass are the people who care about me the most. Someone's always trying to chew my ass about my jeans. "What did Maria wear? Is she making an ass out of herself in those jeans?" My ass is blemish on my otherwise impeccably perfect self; the Scarlet letter ASS I must wear because of the heinous crime of being well-endowed in the rear; oh the shame I cause to my family, all of whom have perfect supermodel bodies, of course!; so I'm not the black sheep, but the morally reprehensible black ASS of the family; oh woe is me, all I'll ever amount to is an apprentice to Kirstie Alley!

(And let's not even get into arms. Yes, arms. I've got enviable arms. And my mother, whose triceps have been long neglected, thinks that I have to cover arms and ass in black in order to be presentable.)

Here's what the people who don't care about me the most have to say about my ass:

1. My gay friend, Mr. Gerald Kosher, thinks I look adorable. And I do. He says, if a man doesn't haul ass to love and adore you as you deserve, he's not worth it.

2. My personal trainer, Mr. Tough Nuts, continually tells me I've got a great figure and athletic body with much grace and flexibility. He continually praises me on my form. Today, he patted me on the back and said "you're solid." (And no, he's not just saying that because I'm paying up the ass for personal training.)

3. The other day at the gym, I went to the restroom and when I came back out I went to the cardio room to get my ass in gear on the treadmill. The woman on the bike and I started gossiping. She confessed that "girls will be girls," and that my ass had been the subject of conversation between her, another client and my trainer. She said that they -- these two skinny, tall gals -- admired the "firmness, height and lift" of my ass!

This is me, my ass and I. Love it or leave it. You know the phrase, "as long ass you're happy." Well, I am happy in my kick-ass body. So BUTT OUT!

Reverse psychology has been a great boost to my ass-esteem. People who care about me who mean well: you're a pain in the ass. All of the assenine comments I've heard lately about not showing my elephantine back side to the world actually make me want to wear those jeans in proud defiance!

P.S. Thanks for caring about me ...