My Week 227: What’s Up, Doc?

Have you ever had a relationship with someone who was a bit of a dick, but you needed him desperately and couldn’t do without him? No, I’m not talking about Ken, who is seldom a dick. I’m talking about my family doctor.

21 years ago, I had a terrible doctor. This was during a time in Ontario when there was a doctor shortage and it was almost impossible to find a family physician, and once you had one, you NEVER let them go. But I hated her with a passion for some very specific reasons which I won’t get into here but which involved my possible demise due to her negligence, so when Ken and I moved to a small town, I started investigating the possibility of finding a new doctor. There was a clinic in town, but they were only taking on patients if you had a “local reference”, so I struck up a friendship with the woman who lived next door. She and her husband had a dog named “Patches”. He was a purebred Pomeranian. Consider for a moment the type of person who looks at a mono-coloured dog and bestows it with that particular moniker out of ALL THE F*CKING DOG NAMES IN THE WORLD. Patches barked incessantly, like ALL the damn time and shat on our mutual driveway, but I was willing to overlook all of this in exchange for her passing on the good word to one of the docs at the clinic. But first, she grilled me:

Neighbour: Do you have any pre-existing conditions?
Me: No…
Neighbour: So you would describe your general health as very good?
Me: Uh, yes.
Neighbour: I hope you’re being honest with me. If it turns out that you’re high maintenance, my reputation as a referee is down the toilet. PATCHES!! STOP BARKING!!
Me: Ken and I are VERY fit, no worries.
Neighbour: OK. Dr. Monteith is a very good DOCTOR.

The red flag should have gone up because of the ominous way she said “DOCTOR” but I was young and naïve. The clinic agreed to take me on, and Dr. Monteith (not his real name) was finally mine, and Ken’s too. After a couple of months, I had to schedule an appointment:

Dr. Monteith: Why are you here?
Me: I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive.
Dr. Monteith: And?
Me: Well, last time it turned out to be ectopic and I had to have surgery. In Italy.
Dr. Monteith: Oh. Here’s a requisition for an ultrasound. We’ll let you know if there’s a problem this time.

And it was then that I realized why my neighbour had emphasized “good DOCTOR”. Yes, he was a very good doctor, but he had the bedside manner of a bridge troll:

Dr. Monteith: Why are you here?
Me: I’m exhausted, I’m dizzy, and I’m out of breath all the time.
Dr. Monteith: You’re pregnant.
Me: I know that. But I feel terrible.
Dr. Monteith: Your bloodwork is fine. You’re just pregnant.

Sure enough, I WAS fine, and made it through pregnancy and many other health scares:

Dr. Monteith: Why are you here?
Me: I’m having chest pains.
Dr. Monteith: It’s probably stress. I can recommend some books that you can read about reducing stress.
Me: If I had time to read books, I wouldn’t be stressed. Ha Ha…
Dr. Monteith:
Me: Anyway, if you really think it’s stress, give me 3 Ativan. The next three times I have chest pains, I’ll take one. If the chest pains go away, then I’ll accept your diagnosis.
Dr. Monteith: Fine. Now pay the toll. It’s one goat for today’s appointment.

OK, that last part was a lie. And as it turned out, the Ativan didn’t help the chest pains—it just made me not give a sh*t about them. So he sent me for a stress test and gave me a heart monitor. I was fine.

But despite the fact that he’s been my doctor for over twenty years, I know very little about him. I know that he has two children because for the first ten of those years, there was a picture of two small kids on a poster titled “Doctor Daddy” that they had obviously made for him. The other thing I know is that he played tennis at some point, because once, I had to make an appointment and the receptionist said, “Oh, you’ll have to see Dr. Stellen; Dr. Monteith has to have knee surgery for an old tennis injury.” So I went to the office, and in came Dr. Stellen. He was charming, friendly, and affable, and at the end of the appointment, he actually said, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” He was also twenty-five minutes late. And that’s the one redeeming thing about Dr. Monteith–he’s ALWAYS on time. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever been more than 5 minutes late for an appointment in the twenty years I’ve been seeing him. This is because he does NOT make small talk. He’s not interested in how your day is going, whether you’ve been on vacation, if you’ve changed jobs—the only thing he’s interested in is why you’re there and he gets right to the point. Strangely, however, and very uncomfortably, the only time he was ever chatty was when he was doing my yearly internal exam:

Dr. Monteith: So, how’s work?
Me: Um, fine?
Dr. Monteith: Read any good books lately? Can you just scooch down the table a bit?
Me: OK. Um, books—not really…
Dr. Monteith: Got any vacation plans? OK, we’re done. Pheww.

I’d like to believe he was trying to put me at ease, but I doubt it, based on this conversation two years ago:

Me: Now that I don’t have the prerequisite lady parts, do I still have to have a yearly internal exam?
Dr. Monteith: No! No, you do not!

We both smiled in relief at this positive change in our relationship. Which brings me to Thursday. I’d been having problems with allergies and started getting these weird migraines, so I called on Tuesday and made an appointment to see Dr. Monteith. I was in pretty bad shape as evidenced by the email I sent my boss to tell her I had to go home for a doctor’s appointment. About half an hour later, she appeared in my office, all concerned, and said, “Are you OK? You really had me worried. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a spelling mistake in one of your emails!” and I was like “Aw, that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. I just can’t see out of my left eye right now.”

So I went to his office on Thursday, and he walked in the examining room right on the stroke of 11.

Dr. Monteith: Why are you here?
Me: I can’t breathe out of the left side of my nose, my face hurts, and I’m getting those weird ocular migraines again. (*phone rings*) Oh sorry! I’m being harassed by Turkish telemarketers!
Dr. Monteith:
Me: I’ll turn the ringer off.
Dr. Monteith: Thank you. Let’s see. Hmm. Yes, it looks like an infection. Here is a prescription for 7 days of antibiotics and 6 weeks of this special nasal spray. If it doesn’t clear up, I’ll send you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. You should also get a humidifier. OK? Bye.

Over the years, I’ve come to accept his bedside manner and appreciate the fact that he is really good at the medicine stuff. He always knows when there’s something actually wrong and doesn’t take any chances. I just pray he never retires. He might be a bit of a dick, but I’m still alive.


My Week 226: All About The Bordens

On Friday, I was sitting at my desk at the secret agency when my phone screen suddenly lit up. I looked over, and there was a text message. I immediately stopped what I was doing to investigate, because no one ever texts me except the people I work with, and I was AT work. And I don’t mean to imply that I’m unpopular or live a very lonely existence—it’s just that Ken still insists on using Blackberry Messenger like a 90 year-old man and Kate only uses Facebook Messenger, because god forbid a daughter should actually ever call her mother. As for the rest of my family, they DO call me at work, usually during meetings and whatnot, causing me to rush out in terror, worried that the worst has happened, only to be asked to come to dinner on the weekend.

So I sat there for a moment, pondering the possibilities, and then opened up the message. It said, “Just checking if you’re available for a job.” I was immediately intrigued. Of course, I already have a very good job, but I’m only an “Acting” Manager, and there’s always the risk that one day, I’ll have to stop acting like one, and actually BECOME one. So I thought for a moment, and then wrote back, “Ooh, what kind of job?!” I’ll admit that I may have sounded a little over-excited, but tone is hard over text, and I wanted to convey a sense of child-like wonder as well as tremendous enthusiasm. I waited breathlessly for a reply. Nothing. Had I overplayed my hand? Still nothing. To pass the time, I went to the website of the company that the text had come from. There were some very interesting jobs available there: Medical Sales Representative, Relationship Banker, Records Management Specialist, Unloader…I didn’t know what some of these were, but they all sounded very life-fulfilling.

It was almost lunchtime, so I went to heat up my leftovers. When I came back, there was an ominous reply. “It’s a warehouse job”.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that perhaps this wasn’t a job, but was, in fact, a “job”. Was I being offered the opportunity to commit some kind of crime? And then it all made sense: Medical Sales Representative must be code for Drug Dealer. Relationship Banker? That was obviously running an Escort Agency. Records Management Specialist, I guessed, would be something akin to a Mob Accountant. Unloaders…unloaded stolen goods. What had I gotten myself into?

But then, I had a thought. I was always trying to challenge myself to try new things, things that I would never normally do. And a “warehouse job” was certainly something I’d never entertained before, but why not? I mean, I don’t know much about heists, but there are a LOT of movies out there about them, and if Sandra Bullock could do it, why couldn’t I? I regularly organize and oversee an annual event involving more than 1500 people at a large convention centre—how hard could it be to rob ONE warehouse? And the best part was that the secret agency had its OWN warehouse that I could practice on! But wait. The one thing I knew from watching all those heist movies was that a good warehouse job always involved a team. Luckily, I had a team, and a very efficient and intelligent team at that. And the best part was that we wouldn’t need any type of weapon because they are all very fit, kind of like ninjas, if the way they sneak up on me in my office is any indication. I was getting an Oceans 8 vibe from the whole scenario, and started thinking about next steps, the most imperative of which was that I needed information: how big was the warehouse, where was it located, what was the security guard’s schedule, how many cameras were there, and so on.

I took a deep breath. Yes, I was going all in. “Send me the specs. I’ll get my team together,” I wrote back. I imagined them at the other end of the conversation, giving each other quiet high fives and saying, “It’s on. Mydangblog is getting her team together. Send the file with the blueprints.” While I waited for what I assumed would be a VERY appreciative response, I realized that I hadn’t even asked about pay, like how many bundles of Bordens I was going to get (Bordens are the Canadian equivalent of Benjamins, but only 76 cents to the dollar). But while I was picturing a large leather case, and all those shiny Bordens, the reply came: “What do you mean?”

It suddenly occurred to me that, perhaps, I had badly misjudged the offer. I wrote back, “Is this a job, or a ‘job’?” Again, the answer came back: “What?” I did the only thing I could do, and replied, “Wrong number.”

And then I had an epiphany. The message was for Shane, “Blayz for Dayz” Shane who had apparently owned my phone number before me, whose girlfriend still tried to Facetime me, whose mother left me angry texts demanding that he call her right away, whose friends like to play soccer and smoke weed. I felt terrible—not only had I missed out on what might have been a VERY lucrative opportunity, I had also probably gotten Shane fired from his temp job. I hope he doesn’t have to resort to crime to pay his bills. But if he does, I know where he can find a team.

My Week 225: Who The F*ck Is Daniel and Other Interesting Questions

On Friday, I had a rather stressful experience. I had been invited to appear on a local social media show to promote my novels, both published and upcoming, and I had to go to the taping on Friday morning. I had recently discovered how to use the GPS on my Google Map during our trip to Ottawa—it was invaluable in helping us actually FIND Ottawa, as well as our hotel and various museums. I used it especially for walking trips since it was December in Canada, and everyone knows that you calculate the possibility of walking ANYWHERE by subtracting the outside temperature from the time it would take to get to your destination. For example, 20 minutes minus 20 degrees means “hard pass”. I don’t think I’m doing the math right, but that’s par for the course, if you know me at all. Anyway, the taping for the show was at the Woodstock Curling Club at 11 a.m., so I programmed the GPS with the address and set out in my car at 10:25…

Hmm. It doesn’t want me to take the highway? OK, maybe this back way is faster.
Turn right at Pittock Trail? There’s no right turn here.
Turn LEFT on Pittock Trail and turn around?! I don’t see a road. That’s a WALKING TRAIL.
Turn right on Landsdowne? OK, this seems familiar.
I’m lost. Where the hell am I? I should pull over and check the GPS.
How could it possibly take 41 minutes to get to the curling club from here?! None of this makes any f*cking sense! I’ll ask this old couple for directions.
How do you live in a city your whole life and NOT know where the damn curling club is?!
Oh my god, I’m going to be so late!! They’ll do the taping without me and I’ll never be famous in Woodstock! I should do what any normal person would do…
Ken! I’m lost and also this GPS is a piece of sh*t.

Sure enough, Ken was able to search the address from his work computer and guide me to the curling club. It was 7 minutes from where I was and I got there just in time (I’ll post the link when the show goes up—I’m sure I looked like a lunatic, all out of breath and whatnot, so it’ll be good for a laugh if nothing else). Then later, I was having lunch with my aunts and I had to go to Kitchener at 3 o’clock, so I looked up the address and it said it would take me 6 hours and 7 minutes to get there. I said to my aunts, “This stupid GPS is broken. How could it possibly take that long to drive to—oh. It’s set to ‘walking’ instead of ‘driving’. That explains Pittock Trail…”

So one mystery solved. But I have a few others. And since I was just nominated for another Leibster by the creative and inventive sci-fi guy Simon at Planet Simon, and because everyone knows that if you nominate me or tag me for anything, I will either answer your questions in my own weird way or simply make up my own, here are my responses to questions that I have been asking myself this week:

1) Who the f*ck is Daniel?

This is an excellent question and one that I can’t currently answer. On Monday, I decided to watch a little Netflix on the big TV in my condo. I haven’t done this for a while, because I normally use the TV in my bedroom, but I’d been halfway through Lord of the Rings at home before I left to go back and wanted the grander scale of the 36-inch living room screen. I scrolled down to the “Continue watching for Suzanne” section, but that’s NOT WHAT IT SAID ANYMORE. And I was like, “Continue watching for ‘Daniel’? Who the f*ck is Daniel?!” I messaged my current roommate, hoping that he was a friend of hers but no. I messaged my previous roommate, the one with the fruit fetish, thinking that she and Daniel had shared a cantaloupe or something, but she was adamant that she had never had anyone over to our place, let alone someone named Daniel. So now all I can think is that “Daniel” broke into my condo, logged me out of my Netflix account, watched a bunch of cooking shows and documentaries about Paleo dieting, then forgot to hide his tracks by logging himself back out.

2) How many shop vacs is too many?

Four. Four is the number of shop vacuums that Ken found in his workshop last week when we decided to clean our attic. Two of them are brand new in boxes. Why the hell do we have four working shop vacs? Ken says he doesn’t remember buying them and I certainly didn’t, so where did they come from? Did Daniel put them there? Every once in a while, I say to Ken, “Remind me not to buy any more jars of butter chicken sauce for a while—I have three in the cupboard right now.” Apparently, I need to start doing that with shop vacs.

3) Am I the queen of sexual innuendo or do I just have dirty-minded co-workers?

You be the judge. As I mentioned, Ken and I were cleaning out our attic over the holidays. When I got back to work, one of my colleagues asked me what I’d done over the break.

Me: Ken and I went up to the attic. We hadn’t been up there for a long time. It was pretty dirty.
Colleague: Hubbadahubbada!
Me: What?
Colleague: Nice!
Me: NO. We actually went up to our attic to clean it. How does that sound even remotely sexual?
Colleague (laughing): I don’t know—maybe it was the way you said it.

Then later, I was trying out my new SodaStream machine, but I forgot to screw the bottle in tight and the water went everywhere, including all over me. Right after, the same woman came into my office:

Colleague: Are you OK?
Me: I just soaked myself. I’m so wet!
Colleague: Ho HO!!
Me: With WATER. From my SodaStream!!

Then we both started laughing hysterically and making attic jokes. I’m just glad I didn’t tell her that the bottle wasn’t screwed in tight enough.

4) Should grown-ups sleep with stuffed animals?

Of course. If children are allowed to do it then adults should be too, and there should be no stigma attached to that. I personally have two stuffed animals that I currently sleep with: one is a duck named Quackers, and the other is a tiny shark named Brian. It is a complete coincidence that I started tucking Quackers, who used to belong to my daughter, under my arm at night after she left for university. Quackers is just the right size to keep my arm slightly elevated and prevent my shoulder from aching in the morning and that’s the ONLY reason I sleep with him. Brian, of course, protects me from the monster that lives under my bed.

Safe from the monsters.

5) How did Ken almost kill your horse?

Last year, Ken joined a service club in town. He does a LOT of stuff with them, fundraising and whatnot, and it’s good that he keeps busy when I’m away for work. But a couple of weeks ago, I had this strange dream where Ken and I were taking our horse to the vet. We don’t have a horse in real life, but in the dream, we were pulling a horse trailer and driving along, when suddenly we passed a park where all the other members of the club were assembled. Ken looked at them, and then looked at me with this really wistful expression on his face, and he wouldn’t stop staring at me, so finally I said, “FINE. Go be with your friends!” And then he leapt out of the truck and ran off, leaving me to take the horse to the vet by myself. I started driving up a really steep hill and I freaked out about the horse falling out the back of the trailer, so I turned around and went back, but I got lost. In a situation eerily close to real life, I couldn’t get my GPS to work, so I called Ken and yelled, “Thanks for almost killing our horse, KEN!” I don’t know what any of this means except that Ken needs to be more equine-conscious and that next time, I’m taking Daniel with me. He’s not a very clever criminal but I’ll bet he knows how to program a GPS.

So I know that I’m supposed to pass the Liebster on, but I also know that some people don’t like to answer the questions or whatever, so here’s the deal: if you can solve ANY of my mysteries, then you automatically get one and then you can choose to post your own answers to your own questions or go back to Simon’s post and answer HIS questions. However you like. Deal? Let the detecting begin!



My Week 224: I Am Nothing If Not Resolved; Tagged

You’ll have to forgive me for being a little bleary-eyed this morning because Ken and I were up a bit in the night. At around 2 this morning, we both woke up to “Beep!…Beep!”

Me: It sounds like the battery in the smoke alarm is dying.
Ken: I’ll pull the battery out and get a new one in the morning.
Me: OK.

5 minutes later: “Beep!”

Me: Is it the carbon dioxide detector? I thought it plugged in.
Ken: It has a battery back-up. Hang on, I’ll go unplug it and pull out the battery.

5 minutes later: “Beep!”

Me: I think it’s the one in the living one.
Ken: I’ll have to go outside and get the ladder.
Me: Can’t you just stand on the coffee table?
Ken: No, the ceiling is too high. I’ll be right back.

10 minutes later: “Beep!”

Me: What the actual f*ck?
Ken: It’s either the smoke alarm in the back room or the carbon monoxide detector downstairs. God, I’m still freezing. Hang on—I’ll pull both of them.

5 minutes later:

Me: I guess it must have been one of the ones downstairs. Did you put the batteries back in all the other ones?
Ken: No, why?
Me: We’re completely vulnerable. What if there’s a fire or a gas leak while we’re asleep? WE’LL NEVER KNOW, KEN!
Ken: Sigh. I’ll be right back.

Anyway, that isn’t the topic for today, but it might explain why I’m so tired. Today’s topic is actually about New Year’s Resolutions, which I do not make, mostly because if I want to change something about my life, I do it when I think of it, not on some arbitrary and imaginary date line. But still, the moving forward of time does give one pause, and by “pause” I mean “let’s stop and think about what the f*ck we’re doing and do we want to keep on doing that?” So here are a couple of things I will or will not be doing in 2019:

1) I will no longer be distracted by things when I’m having a serious conversation with someone. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a colleague in my office when I realized that there was something in my boot, like a small piece of gravel or a large piece of lint. Mid-sentence, I reached down, took off my boot, shook the gravel out, looked inside the boot, put it back on my foot, and continued with the conversation. I’m extremely fortunate that I work with people who don’t seem to care about things like that, but still, it must be disconcerting to find yourself in the middle of a performance of Waiting for Godot. Or maybe she was impressed by my multi-tasking skills. Another time, I was in a meeting, and someone said, “It’s like an icebox in here” and I started thinking about what if we were actually holding the meeting IN an icebox, and would there be sides of beef just hanging there, and could we see our breath and whatnot instead of focusing on performance measures. I didn’t say anything out loud–I’m not that weird (or maybe I am–don’t judge me). Either way, I feel like it’s a slippery slope from boot examination to toenail clipping. Ken said he had a similar situation once when he was talking to a woman who, during the conversation, reached up under her skirt and hoiked up her pantyhose. I asked what he thought, and he said, “I guess it was really bothering her. I mean, you do what you have to do, right?”

2) I will continue inventing words. You may have noticed that, in the previous paragraph, I used the word “hoik”. I use this word all the time. It means “hoist and yank”. I thought it was a real word until I used it the other day when I was telling the very nice gentleman I work with about my roommate and how she had broken my toilet:

Me: She must have really hoiked on that handle!
Very Nice Gentleman: Did you say ‘hoik’? What does that mean?
Me: Hoik? You know, like this! (*mimes hoisting and yanking and makes the appropriate hoisting and yanking sound, which is ‘hoyk’*)
VNG: I’ve never heard of that word.
Me: Well, I didn’t just make it up.

Turns out that I did. I googled it and there’s no such word. But it’s a damn good word, useful for many occasions, and since I am very good at the made-up words, I will continue to invent them. My latest is “stabscara”, which is when you poke yourself in the eye with a mascara wand, as in “Oh my god! I just stabscara-d myself!!” or “I love your new eyepatch.” “Yes, I happened to stabscara myself but it all worked out in the end.”

3) I will stop being so bad at potlucks. We have potlucks at work all the time, and I don’t have a lot of fancy cooking equipment and whatnot at my condo, so whenever we have a sign-up, I just put “Drinks”. And while you might think that would make me popular, I learned my lesson after the liquor-filled chocolate fiasco of 2017, and by drinks, I now mean 2 cases of Perrier, which is terribly boring and probably a let-down for everyone who saw HOW I had signed up for the potluck in what appeared to be a very boozy way:

Go home, Suzanne–you’re drunk again.

People were bringing in crockpots and crystal trays and poinsettias and wreaths, and I was like, “Here. Stow these babies in the mini-fridge”. Well, they all got drunk—the cans, not my colleagues. In the future, I will try to be a little more creative, like putting bows on the Perrier boxes or something. Also, I would love to have the confidence of the person who simply wrote “Something Special”:

Me: So what did you bring to the potluck, Cathy?
Cathy: Something special.
Me: Processed cheese on Ritz Crackers?
Cathy: It’s special.
Me: But it’s just–

4) I will continue to write. My only purpose in writing this blog is to make people happy, so I will keep on trying to do that. I am nothing if not resolved.


So I got tagged by Lille Sparven by way of a recommendation from Mona at Wayward Sparkles to answer three questions.

Question 1: What is the first thing you remember writing?

It was a poem about a windy day that I wrote when I was in about grade 3—I think my mom still has it. It was something like this:

What do you do on a windy day
When the wind is pushing you on your way?
Why, you should quite simply say,
Wind, oh wind, just let me play!
Then oh wind, do as you please,
Take me to fairyland with the breeze…

I can’t remember the rest but it was probably also very 8-year-old-ish, with several more youthfully optimistic exclamation marks. I also remember writing a really cool story about a rollercoaster which my teacher slashed up with red pen because of my use of fragmented sentences. For emphasis.

Question 2: Do certain dates (births, deaths, anniversaries of all sorts) carry great weight and significance for you, around the calendar, or do you tend to observe them as things come up at any point in time and remind you of those people and events?

No. I’m terrible at this. I struggle to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and anything like that. Ken is always the one who’s like “Guess what day it is today!!” and then hands me a card and a gift and I’m like “Oh f*ck”. But my brother told me a great trick the other day for when you forget an occasion—you just quickly go on Amazon and buy something, then show the person the item and say, “It hasn’t arrived yet because of the postal strike, but it will be here soon. Sorry to spoil the surprise!” And if the person says, “What postal strike?”, you just say, “You know, the one in California.” No one can prove or disprove that statement and you look considerate instead of like a dick.

Question 3: What did you do the first day you had your driver’s license and unaccompanied access to a car, keys in hand?

Oh man. I got my license 37 years ago. It took me three tries because I couldn’t parallel park. I can tell you that the first thing I did NOT do was parallel park anywhere, and I have never had occasion to do it in 37 years. Most likely, on the first Saturday night after I got my license, I told my mom I was going to the roller rink, and then went to the dance club I’d been going to underage for months—only this time, I screwed myself. I had to come home early because the car had a curfew. Not me—the car.

Thanks for the tag, Lille—I hope you enjoyed my attempts to answer!

Here are three questions for any of my friends to answer:

1) What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?
2) Alien or Predator?
3) What would you bring to a potluck?