I can’t sleep so let me tell you a “humiliation story”

My dad has been in the hospital for about a week and a half now.

Yeah, you read that right.

Not even 2 months after my mom’s random kidney infection, my dad suddenly has become very ill and had to have major digestive surgery (re: they took part of his fucking intestine out. I’m not kidding. They were just like “fuck that one part of his intestine in particular” and tossed it in a biohazard bag. I mean, it probably didn’t happen exactly like that, but you get the idea.)

I’m having a hard time processing this because, my family… we are not “sick” people. My dad has NEVER been in the hospital, except for one time when he had foot surgery, and though he had to wear an intense looking boot, it was kind of a different thing. Same with my mom, the exception to hospital visits being delivering babies. Which has nothing to do with being sick, just living in the 21st century, which is generally considered a positive thing.

You guys know my dad. He's a pretty cool guy.
You guys know my dad. He’s a pretty cool guy.

Anyway, my dad was supposed to be getting better, but now he’s in pain again and running a fever, and my mom’s out of sick time to stay at the hospital with him and I JUST WANT TO KICK THINGS AND CRY LIKE A THREE YEAR OLD AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGGGGGGGGGGGH.

Aside from being shaking up by the sudden reality of my parents’ mortal-ness, all this sickness and fright has also made it impossible for me to sleep normally.

Obvi my emotional thermostat tips towards “anxious” anyway, but now I’m honestly, literally afraid to sleep. Both of my parents woke up at 4am, doubled over in extreme pain, with no prior warning. Naturally, because I am self-involved, that makes me imagine all the ways I’d be screwed if that happened to me. At least my parents could take care of each other, I guess. But me… I’m going to have to crawl my ass down four flights of stairs whilst my moaning from the hallway would prompt my neighbors to call the cops because this is New York City and LOL of course I don’t know my neighbors. So clearly I need to stay awake forever.

(Yes, I know I’m being irrational, but you try explaining that to my brain in the dark. It’s just a flight simulator where things blow up, on a loop, all the time.)

Anyway, because I’m not sleeping, I thought I’d try doing the only thing that makes random, horrifying life events seem to make sense: tell stories!

This is not going to be about pole dancing, but it is a spooky lady event that most people wouldn’t talk about, so I guess it fits in well here.

A few years ago, I was taking a writing class (shut up) and our first assignment was a “humiliation essay.” Basically, our instructor Sue (shout-out, hey Sue Shapiro, you’re amazing and helped me get in XO Jane!) was asking us to write about one of the most humiliating things that ever happened to us.

I wrote it all out and brought it to class, and then did nothing with it, because it really was humiliating. So this is CLASSIFIED…. (I say as I put it on the internet). Brace yourself.




So, this one time I got a urinary tract infection.

A UTI, as they are lovingly known.

These things are totally not a big deal… I thought.

Which it turns out is not true. They’re only not a big deal if you have a doctor and health insurance. One round of antibiotics will knock that sucker out. Cranberry juice, on the other hand, will do jack shit.

Of course, at age 22, having just moved to New York and literally on my first week of a new job before my benefits kicked in, I didn’t know any of this, and I did not have a doctor or health insurance. I also did not have a smartphone.

Which is why, when I finally realized at about 8pm on a week night that cranberry juice will NOT stop you from peeing blood, I got very lost looking for an urgent care center. The primitive 2008 version of Google Maps I had on my Acer at the time had failed to alert me that the nearest one (which was actually quite far) had closed, and of course I didn’t discover this until my gypsy cab sped off. It left me on a DESERTED section of Flatbush avenue, in front of a lot of closed business–(the urgent care center being one of them, taunting me) with a dead phone.

Oh, and this is also the part where I realized that I was rapidly losing any control over my bladder.

I ran around looking for cabs (there were none, lol this is BROOKLYN Brooklyn, not Prospect Park) then dashed into a diner to use the bathroom. Horrible idea–blood, pain, crying, humiliation and generally escalating desperation ensued. I left a tip for the water I didn’t drink (I think I was hoping karma would save me?) and ran into the street, officially panicking. That’s when I saw a bus.

I got on the bus and I think I THOUGHT I was being casual when I asked the driver “Where’s the nearest hospital?” but, since the guy actually drove off his route and dropped me directly at Beth Israel, I guess I didn’t play it as cool as I was hoping.

Long story short, I got 10 dollars worth of antibiotics, some delicious pain killers, and an $850 ER bill (but no T-shirt, which was disappointing).

Here’s the most traumatic part of all of it, though: getting back to my apartment at 3am, sweaty, gritty, shaking, tear-stained, and general Never The Same Person Ever Again, it came to my attention that nobody gave a shit. The two people I was rooming with were both awake in the living room, and I don’t think they even said hi. I emailed my boss before bed and woke up to a message not expressing any concern for why I might have been in the hospital, but instead asking was I not going to be in the next day? Because if so, that would be a problem and I’d need to notify her immediately.

Welcome to New York, kids. So that’s the day I grew up and realized that the world owes you nothing, and you need to be prepared for anything. And also that cranberry juice is bullshit.

That was 5 years ago, and I still have a stockpile of leftover amoxicillin (ear infection, 2010) in my medicine cabinet juuuuuuuuuuust in case, which makes the moral of the story…. I have no fucking idea, actually, LOL, life is hilarious?

So tell me… if you had to write a “humiliation essay” what would it be about?

How do you turn off your brain when it’s running Worry2.0?




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