Why Free Clinics Are Free

I should have known I was in for a ride when the medical assistant standing in front of me mumbled incoherently, and the only reasonable response that I could come up with was a scrunching of my nose and a quizzical, “Huh?”\r\n\r\nShe seemed very unsure of herself, but I answered her questions confidently, and did as I was told. I was made to stand way too long on the digital scale for her to record my weight, but being pleasantly surprised that I had lost some pounds, I wasn’t as embarrassed nor feeling as impatient to step off as I usually am. I didn’t become fully concerned until it came time for the testing of my blood pressure.\r\n\r\nShe delicately wrapped the black band around my arm, making sure all the pressure tubes were lying parallel and not crossing over each other. As she put on her stethoscope, she seemed to have trouble placing in her ear buds, as if she was discovering her ears for the first time. She placed the cool round end of the stethoscope on my inner elbow, adjusting it into the perfect position, and listened for a good ten seconds without pumping the cuff. Eventually, she realized she would need to pump it, and boy did she pump it! Every now and again, I’ll get an attendant who pumps the band way too much, to the point of almost crying, but within seconds, they give a twist of the valve and save me from unbearable discomfort.  Not this time.\r\n\r\nShe pumped it the fullest I’ve EVER had it, and kept on trying to listen without releasing any of the pressure. She finally decided that maybe she should change the position of the stethoscope. Of course, that didn’t work.  By this time, my tingling fingers began going numb. She adjusted her ear buds, and placed the scope down again.  My arm, now having lost all feeling to it, remained perfectly still. The crushing pain in my bicep was the only way I knew that I still had an arm. That, and I could see my lifeless fingers dangling out in front of me. I willed them to move, but to no avail. Just when I thought I might pass out from the mix of pain and numbness, she released the valve the teensiest of bits. I thought, “Finally! My blood is sure to come rushing back in, and she’ll surely hear a pulse!” But no, she merely wanted to reposition the scope, and within nanoseconds, it was pumped to the brim once again.\r\n\r\nAt this point, my entire arm hurt and tingled, as it was briefly given life, and then cruelly taken away. Fortunately (unfortunately?) it took her forever and a half this second time, and my arm soon returned to a numb state. After, at least, a minute and a half from when she began, she released the valve for good, and gently removed the armband. I immediately clutched my hand to my chest, massaging and moving my fingers. I looked down at my upper arm: It was so red that it looked like a horrific sunburn, not to mention that the indentations of the cuff remained on my arm for the rest of my visit.\r\n\r\nShe then wrote my name on a sterile urination cup, handed it over to me, and informed me that she needed to take my weight before I went and did my business. I questioned, “Again?” “Oh, I mean, your height,” she responded.  I followed her to the height rod affixed to the wall. I stood straight and felt the soft pressure of the bar resting against my head. She started uttering, “uhhs” and “umms,” so assuming she was trying to find a polite way to tell me to take off my sandals, I offered, “Should I take off my chanclas?” She said yes, and we resumed with the measuring. Again, I heard “uhhs” and “umms” emanating from her lips.  Then she asked me, “How tall are you?  This is saying 65.”  She lifted the bar from my measured position, and I stepped out from under it. She pointed to the 65 and said, “This is where I think you measured. I don’t get it. It says 65, and the other side says 165.  How tall are you?”  This was when I went into teacher mode, pointing out the inches side and the centimeters side, and letting her know that I usually measure 5’4 3/4″, and that the 65 she is looking at is part of the inches, which is the equivalent to 5’5″, which is essentially my height.  I even took the time to show her that 60″ is five feet, so she could just count up from there for future height measurements.  I guess all that went over her head, ’cause instead of acknowledging that she understood any part of what I said, she mentioned, “This is a new measuring tool, so I’m not used to it. I don’t understand the 165. So how tall are you? Five-five?” To that, I just nodded and conceded, “Yes, five-five.”\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

close-up-height-rod

I can see how this could be so confusing…NOT!

\r\n\r\nStill clutching my empty, sterile urination cup, she led me to a line to take a vision test. As I began, a nurse walked by, and politely placed me on the correct line, about ten feet further back. The medical assistant resumed my test by telling me to start on the chart wherever I wanted. So, I chose a line, covered one eye, and began reading, with no guidance from her at all. I got to a line where I knew I was screwing up horribly, and missed more than the allotted amount, so I removed my hand and told her it was too fuzzy. Instead of moving on to the next eye, she urged me to continue squinting and guessing for the remainder of that line and the following line. I just went with it. After each individual eye was done, she started to walk away, and I inquired, “Don’t you want me to read them with both eyes now?” To which she responded with a shake of her head, and a leading of me to a nearby restroom to give them a urine sample.\r\n\r\nAs I walked into the bathroom and looked down at the cup, this is what I saw:\r\n\r\n
“Schatz” is easy. It’s the “Erica” that throws people off.

“Schatz” is easy. It’s the “Erica” that throws people off.

This Teacher’s Lesson

I’ve been feeling in a rut over my chosen profession. Two school years have gone by, and I have yet to be employed as a full-time teacher; not for lack of trying. At each summer’s end, I’ve gone to at least two interviews. It’s always the same scenario: 30+ candidates vying for that one open position. When I began this process, I was exuding self-confidence, sure that I would be among the top candidates.  However, as each subsequent apologetic denial came, my confidence weaned exponentially. Maybe my reserved, awkward demeanor overpowered my smiling kindness and turned the hiring committees off to me?  Or maybe I wasn’t as great a teacher as I thought?\r\n\r\nAnd that, my friends, is where my mind has been for the last year. I’ve been subbing sporadically, and whenever I get handed a troublesome classroom, my confidence in teaching wanes a little bit more.  I pride myself on my classroom management skills in my own class, but taking on another teacher’s group is a whole other beast. Not being familiar with their routines, and not developing the respect and rapport that comes with having a group of children from Day 1, brings upon a challenge that I don’t particularly care for. At the end of the day, I usually end up feeling defeated and sure that I’m losing my skills as a teacher. Stung with the hurt of denial, and yearning for steady financial independence, I’ve begun searching out alternative, rewarding careers for my skill-set. I’ve got nothing, so if you’ve got some ideas, shoot ’em over!\r\n\r\n The nice thing about not being employed full-time is my freedom of making plans at any time, on any day. So last Friday, I drove two hours to Adelanto to watch the 8th grade promotion ceremony at my last school of employment.  When I left Bradach School, I had just finished a year of teaching a 5th/6th grade combo class. I also taught Writing to the other full 6th grade class every morning, so I was able to develop a relationship with all 55 6th graders in our little Middle School Academy. The students and parents had my personal cell phone number for school-related questions, and while it was rarely used during the school year, I was surprised with texts from two of my former girls at the start of their new 7th grade year.  They wanted to share with me their progress and worries, and I kept in appropriate touch with them; always allowing them to text me first, and replying fittingly.\r\n\r\nWhen they began 8th grade, they immediately asked me to attend their graduation at the end of the year, and checked in with me periodically throughout the year to make sure I wouldn’t revoke my promise.  So last week, I made the trek out to see them graduate.\r\n\r\nInterestingly enough, my best friend from college, Chris, worked at Bradach for the end of this school year, so I was able to travel up with him and establish a “home base” in his classroom during my visit there. Seeing all my old students so grown up and ready to embark on a new adventure struck an emotional chord in me, and made me tear up upon sight of them. I basically lost all my composure when my ex-principal invited me to come up to be a part of the receiving line as the students received their diplomas. It was an incredibly special moment for me to be a part of their final minutes at Bradach. Their graduation seemed to serve as the end to a chapter in my life as well.\r\n\r\nThat said; it was so great being back! All my old colleagues warmly welcomed me, and throughout the day, they continued to speak highly of me; expressing how much they missed me, and what a shame it was that today’s kids were missing out on such a great teacher. I left Adelanto with a renewed sense of self-worth. I no longer feel as though I don’t deserve to be in the classroom. It’s where I belong, and I know that once this economy gets back on its feet, some school is going to be lucky to have me! Take that, depression!\r\n\r\n

My Bradach Girls

My Bradach Girls

Minty Badness

I finally broke down and paid the big bucks to see a doctor over my digestive issues. He said it’s most likely a virus, and I’m doing all the right things, but to start taking Imodium. I’d been taking Pepto, but I guess Imodium’s different in that it helps slow things down and bring everything together, if you know what I’m talking about. In the last few days that I’ve been Imodiuming it up, I’ve found that it also makes my butt minty fresh; a feeling that I do not quite enjoy. I have a love-hate relationship with mint that leans heavily on the hate side.\r\n\r\nAs a kid, I really didn’t care for traditional candy canes. I’d eat them when my friends were eating them in order to fit in, or I’d eat them in the days leading up to Christmas when they were the only candy option and I wanted a sugar fix. Come Christmas morning, Santa would leave fruity candy canes on the tree to save me from my peppermint hell. Altoids came out when I was in high school, and one day at lunch, my cousin’s friend pulled out the little red tin and told us that they were the strongest mints she’s ever had, and would we like to try one? I didn’t, but I also didn’t want to look like a loser, so I grabbed one of the chalky mints and popped it into my mouth. I immediately wanted to spit it out, but I sucked it up as it burned a hole into my tongue and tears welled in my eyes.  When no one was looking, I spit it out into the bushes.\r\n\r\nI have no transition into this paragraph: I have thick, wavy hair, and as a youngster, it ran down to my butt. While it was fun to have Rapunzel-ish hair, it also grew like a weed and had to be trimmed fairly often. To save on costs, my mom would do this herself in our bathroom.  It took forever, and because it was so long, I was made to stand throughout the entire process so that she could reach down to cut it. Despite trying not to, every single time, I’d lock my knees, and half-way through the haircut, would suddenly be filled with the overwhelming sensation of smelling mint (which is weird on its own, but even weirder considering that I have no sense of smell). As soon as mint entered my nostrils, my vision would become blotchy, or come to a pinpoint, and I’d meekly tell my mom that I was about to faint. I have never actually fainted all the way, but without fail, I always “smell” mint in the moments leading up to a potential passing out. I’ve never met anyone else who’s had that sensation, so I’m not sure why it happens to me. Must be my brain creating, what it thinks is, the worst possible scent in a moment of despair.\r\n\r\nHere comes the part where I love mint. I had just graduated from 8th grade and was at a farm in Savannah, Georgia. We were taking a tour of the grounds, and stopped by a row of mint plants. The leader told us to pick a leaf, dig our nails into it, and take a smell.\r\n\r\nDespite my anosmia, I went through the motions so as not to be rude. However, as I brought the small leaf up to my nose and inhaled, I actually did smell mint! I was elated, and carried that leaf with me throughout the rest of the tour, taking whiffs along the way. Within minutes, my nose remembered that it wasn’t supposed to work, and I could no longer smell that leaf no matter how hard I tried. I have no idea why I was able to smell at that exact moment, but I will forever cherish that memory and the feeling of smelling.\r\n\r\nFor that gift I was given 18 years ago, I am eternally grateful to mint. I guess I can put up with a little tingle after a poop for a few more days.\r\n\r\n

Why a company thinks “mint flavor” is a good thing is beyond me. Photo Source

Why a company thinks “mint flavor” is a good thing is beyond me. Photo Source