Tropic of Answer

Neurotropic virus – a virus capable of attacking or affecting the nerve cells, or does so preferentially.

Day 6

Last night I was alone with the kids. D had to work out of town for work and I realize I am afraid. I am trying to find a place in my head that can put this. I have to keep it all packed tightly so that it doesn’t overtake me but the pain is consuming and I can’t get the lid on all the way.

Mom arrives and I set up the kids and head to my doctor’s office. I love my doctor. She’s a tiny lady that I have I’ve been with for 15 years. I drive over state lines to see her, which isn’t that often. I am lucky that way.

The last time I was there was about 9 months ago. Today, I am early because, while she is amazing, her office staff is the pits. For the past 5 years she has struggled with them. I have waited hours before for a sick call because I was forgotten, once in the waiting room, another time in the exam room and other assorted ridiculousness. I know that it is a volume business but getting rid of the loud, mean lady at the front desk who held it all together was a big mistake. Huge.

My anxiety rises with the elevator to the second floor. I have been in a state of “don’t truly freak out, yet, just stay in pre-insane limbo” for as long as I can take. I am ready. The door opens. I am sweaty and stinging. I reach the office and it is dark. There is a sign:

“We have moved to a new location…”

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

There is an address on there, thank God, but I don’t know anything about new development in this area. I call the office person and she says, “Oh yeah, we moved about 6 months ago.” She explains where they are located and I say I am going to be late because I am at the old location and she says, “Don’t worry about it. It happens all the time.”


I find the office, arriving 10 minutes late, sweating. It is freezing outside. My face is burning and when I breathe in the cold air it lingers in my mouth like a film of pointy, polar ice cubes stabbing me on the tongue. I shut my mouth and cover it with my hand. I race to this new door. Lights are on.

I check in and wait the allotted 50 min before I am seen. I am doing a small chant inside to remain calm and reduce any perspiration which is making my skin sing with pain. Finally, I’m led back to the room by a nurse who checks my vitals then leaves me alone. I am so uncomfortable I want to scream. I begin with this tic I now have of pulling my sleeves down around my hands and then pulling them back up. Down. Up. Down. Up. There is a knock at the door.

In walks, not my little doctor lady but, some Josh Groban look-alike. He’s a med student, helping her with patient histories before she comes in. Great. Way to get efficient in the back of the house. Maybe you should get this kid on a bulk mailing about the address change while you are at it.

“Ok, so you are here for leg pain. Tell me a little about that.”

I begin. He is typing it into the computer and I am naming all the symptoms and goings on of the past few days. At some point during my list of bizarre issues his typing stops. Slowly turning away from the screen, he looks at me as his hands hang motionless, like spindly spider legs frozen over the keyboard.

I conclude, “…and I can’t really touch anything cold or any water that isn’t warm without pain and if something is warm or hot, I can’t really tell the difference, and everything tastes like a fizzing, burning sensation and I have all these bug bites and I just don’t know what to do.”

He’s looking at me.

Blink. Blink.

He says, “Wow! You know…you hear about this kind of thing in medical school (he smiles) but you just never think that you are going to see it out in practice, in real life. The real thing. You, know?! I mean…wow.”


Well, this is the most inappropriate response that I can think of but I am oddly validated and as long as he doesn’t break into song before Teeny Doc comes in I decide to go with the Groban.

He completes his typing and then gives me an exam. Finally, someone takes the time and actually looks at my skin and touches it. He, then, does other strength and sensation tests running his fingers down my face. Can you feel this? And this? And this?

I pass.

Knock, knock. Teeny Doc comes in and she is like, “So, how is the leg pain?!” I say, “Well it’s a little more than that…” then, Dr. Groban, excitedly, interrupts and recounts my report.

She does not pull a spider-Groban. She…doesn’t seem too concerned at all. “Well, you didn’t have any leg pain last night so it sounds like it is getting better. (umm, wha?) You know, you probably have a virus and this will all clear up in a few weeks. Let’s just wait it out and it should all subside. If something lingers, we will send you to a neurologist.”

I tell her that the ER said to go to Infectious Disease and she says that by the time I get in to see them I will be all better.

She stands to leave and says, “You know, when you go to these places…you pick up things…and then you have to deal with the consequences.”

I wanted to shake my stinging finger in her face and say, “Umm…did you just scold me?! It’s not like I was down there temping in a brothel or something. I was lying on the beach with a bunch of retired people!” But I don’t say that. I just ask so what should I take for this pain. Tylenol.

Josh looks a little deflated and cut short as she rushes out the door. He gives me a wistful look and exits stage left. Thanks for the polar opposite reactions. Way to go, team.

Now, I have no idea what to think.

I make my appointment for the Monday after Thanksgiving, as she directed. That’s 14 days away. I am less afraid because in 14 days I will be better and thankfully filing this whole thing into a nice, big, holiday bag of reasons why vacations are overrated. Two weeks. I can make it. I can work with a deadline. I am a professional.

14 Days Later

My holiday bag is not packed. I am not better. I am worse.


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