Monthly Archives: December 2012

Hit Me Again, Ditchdoctor!

We do a lot of rotating shift work here in the desert and sometimes I get so exhausted that my judgment suffers. Recently, in a flash of insanity that I can only blame on serious sleep deprivation I conceived the idea of boosting my energy with a series of vitamin B12 shots.  

I’ve taken these injections before – they make you feel like a different person. And you can buy syringes, needles and a really high grade of B12 over the counter here, so what’s not to love?

The problem, of course, is that I’ve taken these shots. As in, someone else has given them to me. Usually while I’m curled in the fetal position, making whimpering noises to myself. Still, somehow I got it into my head that I was going to be able to plunge a needle deep into the musculature of my own thigh and nonchalantly give myself a shot. Or rather, a lot of shots since, in my enthusiasm, I ran out to the nearest pharmacy and bought a 3-month supply. Go big or go home, is my motto.

In the midst of this streak of zealous medical independence a small detail slipped my mind: I’m so queasy about needles, flesh, and bodily functions that I’ve dropped out of nursing school not once, not twice, but three times in the last fifteen years. I always start out with lofty intentions: I’m going be a nurse! I’m going to save lives and wear cute scrubs and make a lot of money! (Not in that order.) I’m going to hold out hope to the dying and comfort to the suffering and, Florence Nightingale-like, single handedly reform any corner of the medical world that still needs reforming!

Then I’ll see a picture in a textbook of a bedsore, or an excised tumor, or I’ll read the words “seeping exudate” on a chart somewhere and before you know it I’m back on the streets begging McDonalds to let me flip burgers for them. I remember watching a woman give birth once, in real life. I’d already had four babies myself, so I was well acquainted with the process. And as the mother pushed her tender infant into the world, as a roomful of medical professionals around me sighed in raptures over the miracle of burgeoning new life, all I could think was – holy cow, that’s one disgusting, slimy mess

So it’s no surprise that I got cold feet at the last minute. I decided to get a paramedic (I work with several) to show me the ropes the first time around. 

“Easy peasy,” said Ditchdoctor Dan, the Sadistic Paramedic From Hell. “Look for your muscle landmarks first.” 

Landmarks? I thought he was trying to give me a geography lesson. 

“After you find your landmarks (???) just make a triangle with your fingers and slip the needle in. You won’t even feel it. Don’t go off too far to the side though, or you’ll hit a nerve and it’ll hurt so bad you’ll want to die.” 

nerve?? I could feel myself getting lightheaded. “I don’t think I want to take that chance,” I managed. 

“You could do it on your arm,” he mused, “though there’s always the chance the needle will bottom out and hit bone.” 

The room spun. I started to make weird, burbling noises in the back of my throat. 

Ditchdoctor Dan broke the ampoule of B12 and inserted the needle into the liquid. “Glass ampoules, huh? Wow, I hope these are filter-tipped needles. Don’t want to shoot any little slivers of glass into your veins.” He chortled as though this was the funniest idea he’d heard all week.

 “Can that really happen?” My voice sounded like a buzz saw in my own ears. 

Chortle, chortle. “Well, anything can happen. It doesn’t usually kill you the first time around though. You need quite a buildup of glass in your veins before –” But I didn’t hear the rest. Also, the next couple of hours are all a strange blur. 

I’m still committed to taking my B12 shots. Each week when I’m ready I get on the radio and order the nearest ambulance to report to Dispatch. Once the unwitting paramedics are inside my office I corner them. I thrust my bare arm under their noses, begging them to hit me up. I need a fix, man! C’mon, I need it bad! 

Today, for some reason, the whole office got into the spirit of the thing. People were lining up for B12 shots while I, desperate to get rid of my stash, handed ampoules and syringes around like candy. Ditchdoctor Dan looked a bit stunned at this sudden onslaught of clientele. Especially when one woman (let’s just call her Tillie Tourette) dropped her pants and demanded her shot in the hip. Of course in the spirit of medical discretion that particular procedure happened behind a closed door. But we all heard it. I don’t call her Tillie Tourette for nothing. 

And now I’m all amped up on vitamin B12. And so is the rest of the office. If anyone’s caught napping at their desk this week it won’t be my fault. 

Only one month’s supply left in my desk drawer. I might need something stronger than B12 to get through it.

Of Toasters and Triangle Butt

A/N: I had some great animated gifs for this post, but then the 1992 internet connection kicked in and I figured it was time to hit CTRL+V and get out while the lights were still on. So to speak.

A toaster fell on my head today and I’m embarrassed at how happy it made me. I’m not normally a toast eater, but I’d just bought some great artisan bread at the Sultan Center and I was thinking that it would be delicious toasted, if only I owned a toaster. Then I reached into a cupboard to put something away and the toaster fell out on top of me. A more metaphysical person might suspect that this was the Universe sending a message.

I didn’t know I had a toaster. When I moved into my apartment it was already occupied by my roommate, Invisible Kate. (Her name isn’t really Invisible Kate. That’s just my fond nickname for her.) Invisible Kate spends 99% of her non-working time in her bedroom with the door closed. This leaves me free to sprawl out, fling my belongings around, and just generally hog all of the common areas. Invisible Kate ventures forth only rarely to ride the elevator to the roof and smoke a cigarette. I do not join her in this activity for two reasons:

  1. Smoking is a filthy habit and
  2. My mother reads this blog.

When I moved into the apartment everything was coated in a layer of dust and some kind of waxy substance that I do not care to speculate about. This was not Invisible Kate’s fault, as (I’ve noted) she was busy being in her room. I spent my first week scrubbing the place down and rearranging cupboards. After that I hired a maid service to do the cleaning.

I’ve been waiting over forty years to be able to say that. Can you hear the angels sing?

Anyway, obviously at some point in my cleaning I must have seen the toaster, but until it beaned me this morning, I forgot about it.

So now I can have toast, which makes me happy. Except that it’s just one more thing I’m going to have to fight in my battle against Triangle Butt.

It’s a real battle to get enough exercise in Kuwait. I sit in an office chair for twelve hours a day, six days a week. I can feel my backside flattening and spreading like butter on a hot griddle. I’m paranoid that I’m going to get that grandma thing where your butt slowly droops into an inverted triangle, and everyone knows it but you.

There’s a gym in my apartment building, but—this is purely speculation on my part—the equipment appears to have been assembled as part of a Rube Goldberg competition in a junior-high shop class.

The treadmill in my gym, like a Porsche Boxster, accelerates from zero to a hundred in 5.8 seconds. No lie. I tried to run on it one day. One minute I was moving in ludicrous slow-motion like the Chariots of Fire guy at the finish line, and the next I was doing Wile E Coyote runs off a cliff, legs spinning in a blur while I scrambled to stay upright and not lose every “cool point” I’ve ever amassed.

 I avoid the gym.

My only line of defense against Triangle Butt is to slip out of the office two or three times a day and walk a really fast mile each time. I’m a fast walker anyway, but during Butt Maintenance sessions I really haul… well, butt.

Naturally, every helpful soul that sees me race-walking thinks I must be late for an appointment, so they stop to offer me a ride (this is a small military base. It’s not creepy like it would be if I was walking around town). Then I have to stop walking and explain to them about Triangle Butt. It gets complicated. Their eyes get all shifty and they start shrinking back from me. Sometimes I just give up and let them bring me back to the office like a runaway puppy. A fire engine brought me back one day last week which was really cool, except I didn’t get any exercise that day.

So now I can have my toast, but I’m going to have to redouble my battle against Triangle Butt. Maybe I’ll just make toast once or twice, and then hide the toaster from myself again. In Invisible Kate’s room.

Day Off Adventures

I just stepped in something and I don’t know what it was. It’s my own fault for walking behind a Dumpster. My coworker George saw a man squatting to relieve himself behind a Dumpster the other day. Why would I put myself anywhere near one?

My poor shoes; the things they’ve stepped in in Kuwait would curl your hair. I should kill them with fire, but they’re my favorite shoes in the world. I just know that the second I get rid of them the company will stop manufacturing them forever. Here they are: my beloved Rocket Dogs:

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Sorry about the fuzzy picture. I was still shaking from the trauma of stepping in that unspeakable… whatever it was I stepped in.

Today I went to the bazaar, where I bought an overpriced charging cord that the salesman swore on his mother’s grave would fit my router. Of course it didn’t fit my router. It probably doesn’t fit anyone’s router. It’s probably a charging cord for a portable iron or something. His mother’s probably not even dead.

I saw this advertisement at the bazaar:

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It’s just wrong on so many levels that I don’t even know where to start.

Here is something else I saw there:

 They’re selling socks. There must be a hundred of these sock vendors in the bazaar. How many socks can one tiny nation need? Obviously someone buys them. It makes me suspect that perhaps all the Arab women are wearing Hello Kitty socks under their abayahs. The men may be wearing Spongebob Squarepants knee socks under their dishdashas. How would we know?

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After the bazaar I went to the salon. I had to go because last week at the office I took a pair of dull scissors and whacked off all my bangs. They were in my eyes and I couldn’t take it another minute. My friend Rob says that this was an awesome and manic thing to do. I don’t know. It took a grim-faced stylist named Sana and 12 KD (about $42) to fix it. I am cheap about my hair (which is probably evident to anyone who has seen me). I have difficult hair. Ever had a bad hair day? I’m having a bad hair life. I figure why throw money at the problem? So 12 KD kind of hurt, but I guess she did a good job. Now I’m probably going to have to style it and everything.

While I was there I had my eyebrows threaded. The tiny lady in charge of that enterprise was named Kamari. She clucked and scolded and ordered Stop plucking your eyebrows! No more! You come back to me many more times and slowly, slowly I fix what you have done.

I don’t know why women think the salon is relaxing. I slunk away feeling like the worst kind of grooming failure. How have I dared to appear in public all these years?

I ate lunch at a tiny Iranian restaurant in Maboulah. It was amazing. They brought me chicken soup that made my heart sing. They brought me a salad full of herbs that I’d never seen or tasted before. They brought me enough food for four people and every bit of it was divine. Here is what I had for lunch (I had already eaten most of the soup and half of the salad).

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Well, I’ve had about all the fun I can take for one day. Tomorrow it’s back to work for me. I should have bought some socks at the bazaar though. Nothing says “Middle Eastern contractor” like a pair of Smurf socks under your tactical cargo pants.