Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Beginnings

It's been a while since I've updated, but I've gotten a new job.  While I would love to write all about that, my first few weeks have actually been filled with some sort of mystery illness that has been keeping me useless. Of course, I should have counted on an opportunistic little microbe at the worst possible moment, but no one ever expects an infection in their facial nerve.

Commence diabolical laughter

You know the saying that life is the one thing you can't get out of alive?  My body really thinks of that as a challenge, just to see how close to dead I can get.  Thus, I started out my new job with a droopy eye, losing the hearing in one ear, unable to feel my face, and so darn tired and dizzy that I could barely stand. Turns out, that isn't really the best way to start out work in a lab environment. 

Eventually, I had to have a work physical because these people are nosy, and I was afraid of what, exactly, to tell them.  Actually, I was a bit curious as to why I had to have a physical at all, because I had never heard of a blood test that would predict whether or not I'd directly inhale 12M HCl or drink the methanol, which means I should be physically able to handle the job.  Really, they just want to have a baseline, so that when I get closer to dead, they'll know it wasn't their fault.

I filled out the questionnaire, wondering if I should use clarifying phrases in the interest of full disclosure. "Here's a list of things I shouldn't be, but actually am, allergic to."  "I hope you like games, because you're the next contestant on Diagnosis: Mystery!"  "Sometimes I make Darwin cry." 

The occupational nurse was a bit over-panicky, asking over and over again if I was nervous as she was taking my blood pressure.  Well, I'm getting less sure every time you ask, actually, so thanks for that.  She went on about my weight and pulse, thinking I should see a cardiologist as soon as possible, or a gym, and then, finally, we got to the conversation about my current headache (there's a headache questionnaire, too), which didn't turn out at all well.

Me:  I've had this headache before.
Nurse:  You mean you've had this same kind of headache?
Me:  No, I mean this exact headache.  I recognize it.  His name is Balboa.
Nurse:  As in Rocky?
Me:  As in Vasco Núñez de.
Nurse:  Who is that?
Me:  In 1513 he took a little trip, through the Isthmus of Panama into the Pacif...ic.  That didn't sound as good as it did in my head.
Nurse:  Are you making this up?
Me:  Well, not entirely.  He did discover the Pacific, and with sword in hand, he claimed all lands touching the body of water for Spain.  It was, in retrospect, a pretty lofty goal.
Nurse:  And the headache?
Me:  Well, this is the same headache, with the same symptoms, as when I had my concussion last year.  I wasn't sure at first, but I recognize that feeling like someone has stuck a sword in and claimed my brain, and all the little synapses are like the indigenous peoples, whose spears are no match for the armor and muskets of the conquistadors.
Nurse:  That's a pretty dramatic interpretation of a headache.
Me:  My pulse is 95, and you think I need to see a cardiologist today. At least my drama has entertainment value.
Nurse:  Fine.  I'll just say that this isn't normal.
Me:  Nothing about me is, really.
Nurse:  And the headache is related to the...
Me:  Vestibular neuritis.  Maybe.  Who knows?  I've decided this is all related to the Spanish Inquisition.
Nurse:  How so?
Me:  Because nobody expected it.  I can't believe you just walked right into that.
Nurse:  Right.  So, this Balboa guy is real?
Me:  Really dead, but he was, yeah.  I do have one other symptom that didn't go with the concussion.  It's like those children's books, but instead of See Spot Run, it's more like, Look at All the Spots I Can't See!  
Nurse:  So, do you think you need to go home?
Me:  Nah, I've gotten really good at logically filling in the missing spots for the few minutes my vision goes.  It's all good.  I don't need to see to learn, as luck would have it.
Nurse:  Okay, I'll just say you need to have an update at your actual physical.
Me:  If it makes you feel any better, I promise not to drink the methanol.
Nurse:  I'm new here.  Does that happen a lot?

Gotta love the newbies.