How Much is Your Eye Worth?

The phone rang the other day–it hardly ever does that–so I answered. A telemarketer named Peter was on the other end. He wanted to tell me about the special deal my bank is now offering on personal injury insurance. Intrigued, I listened as Peter explained injuries that could occur and what the payout would be in a much too enthusiastic voice. “If you break your leg you receive ??? pounds. If you break both legs you receive ??? pounds. If you loose an eye you receive ??? pounds.”

I had to stop him at “loose an eye” to tell him I wasn’t interested. What kind of phone call is that to make to people all day? I don’t want to pick up the phone and hear some stranger talk about the possibility of me loosing an eye. I like both my eyes right where they are. I don’t intend to loose either of them.

“We’re offering this insurance free until the first of September to all our customers,” Peter said.

“I’m not interested.”

“Why aren’t you interested? It’s free until the beginning of September.”

“I’m not going to loose an eye between now and September,” I said.

“That’s really not the point. An accident could happen at any time.”

“I’m just not interested. Thanks.” I hung up the phone.

Peter just didn’t seem to understand that to me buying that insurance would be like saying I’m going to loose an eye. I might as well have grabbed a spoon out of the kitchen drawer and used it to pry out my eye as I talked to him on the phone. I could never buy that kind of insurance. It’s bad luck. Doesn’t Peter understand bad luck?

I wonder how many people actually purchase the insurance. I wonder how many of those people’s eyes drop out of their heads as soon as they hang up the phone.

The Examination

Here’s an essay I wrote soon after my first miscarriage, two years ago.

The Examination

“Scoot down to the edge of the table,” she told me.

I did as I was told–silently. The white paper beneath me crinkled. I looked at the construction work out the window next to me. A yellow crane hoisted a large concrete beam in the air. It swayed precariously over the workers’ heads, but they paid it no mind. I had watched them attach the cables to the beam as I waited in the examination room for the doctor. I’d sat in the blue plastic chair near the window and watched two workers, one in a yellow hardhat and the other in a red one. They’d moved quickly. I listened for the sounds of the crane, but the hospital walls were too thick. The air conditioner clicked on.

“You’re going to feel two fingers and some pressure,” she said.

I closed my eyes and imagined the beam free falling to the ground. The workers scatter. They would escape but only just in time. When I opened my eyes again the beam was still in the air, but the workers were out of sight.

After the examination, she left me in the room alone a little too long. I changed back into my clothes. I paced the dull white tile floor and fought my temptation to look in all of the drawers and cabinets. I studied a model of an IUD and questioned the safety of putting something that appeared to be coiled copper wire inside your uterus.

When the doctor finally came back, I sat in the blue plastic chair by the window again. I wanted to sit on the soft stool with wheels, but I knew that was the doctor’s seat. She wore a gold diamond studded wedding band and an engagement ring with a large diamond. I wondered if she had children.

She flipped through my file like she had never seen it before—like she wasn’t the one who wrote most of its contents. “So…” She looked up at me. Her shirt was cut low, a contrast to the blue scrubs she wore two days ago when I saw her in the emergency room. A diamond studded cross lay nestled in her cleavage. “Had you been trying to get pregnant?” she asked.

“No, it just kind of happened,” I lied. I don’t know why I felt the need to lie. I felt ashamed. I had been trying. I wanted a baby desperately—a girl. I had already given her a name.

“So you weren’t really trying, but weren’t doing anything to prevent it either?” She wrote something in my file.

“Yeah,” I continued the lie. My purse sat in my lap. It was heavier than usual because it contained a library book. I’d planned on reading in the waiting room but couldn’t focus. I’d looked at the same paragraph for half hour and finally turned the page out of embarrassment. I felt the weight of the bag with the book inside and wondered if this was how much a new baby would weigh.

“Because if you were trying I could refer you to OB.”

“No that’s okay.”

She eyed me suspiciously and flipped another page. “Have you passed any tissue?”

“No,” I lied again. A beige lump had come out of me two days earlier. I’d tried to pretend it wasn’t my daughter. I’d flushed it down the toilet and acted like I hadn’t seen it. I always wanted a girl with tight ringlets and an infectious laugh. I wondered what combination of my husband and me she would be. It was easiest to imagine her at four with full pink cheeks and bright eyes. I’d never imagined her as a beige lump of flesh swirling down the drain.

She wrote something else down. “You’ll need another blood test next week to make sure your hormone levels are still dropping.”

“Okay.” I didn’t want any more tests. I was tired of making small talk with people poised to jab me with a needle. I didn’t want another ultra-sound or pelvic exam.

This is what I wanted. I wanted to miss my period one month. I wanted to go to the drug store to buy a home pregnancy test. I wanted it to be positive. I wanted to have a good pregnancy. I wanted to feel the baby kick. I wanted to buy maternity clothes. I wanted to give birth to a healthy baby. I wanted to love her. I wanted to watch her grow.

The doctor continued, “Our ultra-sound found that you have a large fibroid that could be altering the shape of your uterus. This may make it impossible for you to carry a pregnancy to term. We could do an MRI to get a better look and possibly perform surgery to remove it. That would give you a better chance at having a child.” She flipped back to the beginning of the file. “But I see you have no insurance and the MRI alone will be $1000.”

“I can’t afford that,” I said.

“Right.” She snapped my file closed. “Just come in next week for your blood work.”

“I will,” I lied again.

I was going to name my daughter Sabina Grace. She was going to hold my hand when she crossed the street. She was going to kiss me goodnight. She was going to call me mommy.

The 5 Best Things About Staying in the Hospital

In case you didn’t know, I was in the hospital recently. It was nothing serious, just an exploding fallopian tube and some internal bleeding. The doctors in the emergency room seemed to think that I only needed some painkillers to be fixed right up.

The following day, my doctor seemed to think it required emergency surgery. Imagine that! Such an over reaction. A little internal bleeding never killed anyone.

After the surgery, I got to stay in lovely Watford General Hospital for a few days. Hospital stays aren’t most people’s favorite things, so they usually do plenty of complaining about them. I think there are a lot of positive sides to staying in the hospital. Here are a few.

1. The nurses there cared so much about how I was doing that they woke me up every half hour during the  night to take my blood pressure and temperature.

2. I ate toast and strawberry jam for breakfast every morning. Living in a gluten free household, I never get to have toast and I love toast.

3. Every couple of hours someone would offer me hot chocolate.

4. Having a catheter means, you can drink as much as you want without having to worry about getting up every few minutes to use the toilet.

5. The absolute best thing about the hospital is finally getting to go home.

Make a Difference, Save a Worm

I hold a special place in my heart for earthworms. I don’t know why, but I can’t pass an earthworm in distress without coming to its aid. When I see their wriggling bodies on the sidewalk I carefully pick them up and place them in the dirt. That’s what I usually do, but it’s not what I did today.

Yesterday, when I walked to the grocery store, I rescued a particularly fat earthworm that had somehow found it’s way to the middle of the sidewalk. “Ah, look,” I said to my husband before stopping to pick it up and place it in the grass. I felt like I was doing my good deed for the day. I saved another earthworm.

Today when I walked home from th store, I saw an earthworm the exact same size and shape as the one from the previous day in the exact same spot. Seeing it there made me feel annoyed, so I stepped over it and kept walking. I thought, if it is the same worm from yesterday, it must want to be there.

I have to admit that for the rest of the walk home I felt guilty about not stopping to help my slimy friend. What if he wasn’t the same earthworm? I even considered going back to help it but didn’t. I wonder if someone else helped it.

Ikea

I forgot to write a post last week. Can you believe it? I don’t know how that happened.

My parents made a special day trip to Ikea on the 4th of July. My father was so excited to tell me about it. He doesn’t realize that after our struggle to find affordable furniture when we first moved here I’ve had just about enough of Ikea.

According to my father the highlight of Ikea was the cinnamon bun he ate there. “I like that place. I wouldn’t mind going back. That cinnamon bun was good too. I’m gonna get another one of those.” As long as he can get sweets at a place he likes it there.

My sister went to Ikea with them and bought a rug and throw pillows for her living room. My dad had this to say about that. “You should see here living room. It looks so cute with the new rug and pillows. She’s got that house looking so cute.”

My dad comes back from Ikea and now “cute” is a regular word in his vocabulary to describe interior design. He must be quoting my sister. I don’t think he’d say something like that on his own.

What’s That Smell?

The other day, I was sitting in the living room writing as usual while my husband cleaned up the kitchen after lunch. My husband and stepson were talking about dictators or something. I kept noticing a strange smell while I tried to write yet another ehow article about how to give a massage. But I didn’t pay attention to it because I was busy.

Finally the smell got so strong that I couldn’t stand it any longer. “Do you smell that?” I asked them as I went into the kitchen to investigate.

“Smell what?” my husband asked.

I looked around and notice that the knob to one of the burners was turned on. My stepson had been leaning against the stove and had accidental turned the knob. Our flat was filling with gas! We promptly turned it off and opened all the windows.

Can you believe it?! We could’ve died! What if the phone rang? I saw a movie once where the phone rang causing a tiny spark that caused a whole building to explode. That can’t really happen, can it?

The Weight Watchers Identity Crisis


This is my mother. She’s biracial. Her mother is white and her father is black. I don’t think she ever really struggled with her racial identity until now.

The other day I got a phone message from her that went something like this. “I’ve only got 31 more pounds to lose before I hit my goal weight.” She’s doing Weight Watchers. “You’re not even going to recognize me. The next time you see me I’ll be a skinny, wrinkled, white woman.”

My question is, since when does joining Weight Watchers make you white? I had no idea when she joined that she’d turn into a white woman. I wonder what my father thinks about that.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Last week we noticed that my stepson seemed to be turning green. The front of his arms and his neck were a kind of greenish color. Since he has a habit of eating things he shouldn’t–once he chewed up a paintbrush handle–we were afraid he had some kind of poisoning. After freaking out about what kind of poisoning it might possibly be we sent him to bed. He said that he felt fine so it seemed like the natural thing to do. We thought we would take him to the doctor in the morning.

The next day he was still green. It hadn’t gotten any worse but he was definitely still green. After much consideration my husband told him to take a bath so that he could take him to see a doctor. When he was in the bath my husband said, “I have to find out what’s going on while he’s in the bath because it might be dirt.” Then my husband disappeared into the bathroom too.

I’m happy to report that it was dirt. We don’t have a shower in our place and my stepson seems to be more interested in splashing around in the tub than actually washing himself. I think he’s learned his lesson now, because he was quite worried about his greenness too.

Your Apartment Smells of Spices

So I’ve complained many times about my apartment complex in this blog. My first issue was when we moved in we had no running water on Tuesdays for about a month or maybe even longer. Then there was the famous Valet Waste incident. For some reason I thought that moving out would go relatively smoothly. I seem to have difficulty learning from the past.

When I went to give our thirty day notice the apartment manager suggested that I pay an extra eighty dollars for a cleaning service they “offer”. I said I’d clean the apartment myself.

We moved out today and an office person came to inspect our apartment. The first thing she said was “Your apartment smells of spices. That’ll cost thirty five dollars to fix. The burner plates are dirty and they’ll be thirty-five dollars each to replace.” The fees kept racking up.

I couldn’t believe it. It’s all a scam to get you to pay the cleaning service fee. Of course our apartment smells of spices, we cook in it. Did they expect us not to cook?

Never move into Camden Lake Apartments or any apartments affiliated with Camden Living. That’s my free advice for the day. I don’t give much so savor this morsel.

Tongue Sandwich

A few months ago, I decided to stop eating meat. It was a spur of the moment decision. I didn’t put very much thought into it. I’d been a vegetarian before in college. I didn’t think it would be difficult for me at all and I was right. It hasn’t been difficult and my taste for meat went away pretty quickly. Now it smells kind of gross. I still cook meat for my family, I just make something else for me.

The thing that surprises me about my new diet is how other people respond. Most people seem baffled by my decision.

“You don’t eat meat?” They wrinkle their foreheads at me and cock their heads. “Why not?”

“I don’t think it’s good for you and I feel better,” is all I can say and that answer doesn’t satisfy anyone.

“What do you eat then?”

This is my favorite question. What are people’s diets like? Do they think meat is the only option? “Vegetables, beans…” I say.

“Oh.” They look at me with pity. “Don’t you miss it?”

Why do they think I’d miss it?

On Sunday I went to my sister’s house. She’s on some version of the Atkin’s Diet right now so she was eating a big pile of beef and eggs for dinner–not a vegetable in sight. “I’d offer you something but all I have is steak,” she said. “Are you sure you don’t want any pro….I mean an egg?”

I knew that she was going to say protein because she has, somewhere along the line, convinced herself that being a vegetarian means that you don’t get enough protein. Never mind, the fact that I explained to her before about beans and legumes and protein. I’ve decided that it’s not really worth explaining again. “No thanks,” I said.

There are times when I need to hold my tongue. After my mother shot me down when I asked if she was concerned about the amount of artery clogging saturated fat in my sister’s new diet, I decided that this was one of those times. So I didn’t mention that a doctor friend of mine once warned me against high protein low carbohydrates diets. She said they caused kidney problems. I also didn’t mention that they cause bone density loss. There’s the obvious risk of heart disease too. If I were really holding my tongue, I guess I wouldn’t be writing about this now. I guess I’m not very good at holding my tongue.