Things They Don’t Teach You in Spanish Class December 28, 2014

The Time: March, 1994

The Place: Madrid, Spain

The Scene: A Pharmacy

One of the cool things about studying abroad is that you get extra time for travel. Spring break was no exception; instead of the normal week, I think we got two. And somehow I ended up traveling with Colleen, who happened to have a brother and sister-in-law living in Germany. The plan was to visit them and then hit Paris on the way back home.

Of course things started out with a little glitch: Colleen had a yeast infection, and she needed the Spanish version of Monistat ASAP.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Anne, are you sure this “friend” was not you? It was really you, wasn’t it? And let me be clear: NO. IT WAS NOT ME. I’m sure this all sounds like the perfect cover, but I assure you I had not even experienced a yeast infection at that point in my life. And if you must know, I didn’t even have a period for that entire semester abroad, so clearly everything down there was pretty much shut down anyway. But that’s a whole other story.

So we managed to find a pharmacy (apothecary?) because in 1994 Madrid you didn’t exactly find a Walgreens on every corner. This was no corner of happy and healthy. At the most, it was a corner of inconvenience and limited selection. One couldn’t just browse the aisles and pick out a favorite brand of anything; everything was locked up behind a cupboard or on a shelf behind the pharmacist. Toothpaste may as well have been a pack of cigarettes in this joint. You actually had to speak with the pharmacist and tell him what you wanted.

Sadly, my friend realized she did not know how to say “yeast infection” in Spanish. Somehow that one got left off the vocab lists we memorized each week. The best she could tell the elderly male – of course – pharmacist was that she had an “infección vaginal”. Apparently that was not specific enough for this guy, who just continued to give her a confused look. Because we all know there are a whole lot of things that could wrong with your coslopus, am I right, Chelsea Handler? And again – it was 1994 people! In Spain years that was 1974. Unless you had a really good pocket dictionary, you were out of luck. Mobile phones with internet and cool translation apps were still things of a Jetson-like future.

But suddenly, I knew just how to save the day.

“іPan!” I blurted, yelling out the Spanish word for bread. “іEs como pan! Es como pan!” (It’s like bread! It’s like bread!)

Ah brilliant, Anne. You realize you just started shouting “bread infection” at a pharmacist?

But it worked. The old guy suddenly knew exactly what Colleen (not I) needed, and unlocked the huge apothecary case behind him to hand over the goods.

Her vagina was saved, all because of me.

I later found out that “vaginal yeast infection” in Spanish was called “infección vaginal por hongos levaduriformes.” Roughly translated, I believe that means “vaginal infection caused by random attacking mushrooms.”

I think I will just stick to bread infection.


Corrective Laser Eye Surgery: The Truth December 18, 2014

Filed under: Humor,Life Lessons — aniederkorn @ 10:17 am
Tags: , ,

If you’re asking yourself if you should have corrective laser eye surgery, my answer is yes, yes, a million times yes. I was once so blind that the big “E” on the eye chart just did not exist for me; it was basically one big white blurry poster board. Now I just wake up and I can see the alarm clock! I can see the hair on my legs in the shower when I shave! (It’s a bitch when you have to shave your legs by “feel”. I missed a lot of spots that way.) My only regret was that I didn’t get the surgery ten years ago.

So now that you know it’s worth it, your next decision is where to go for your surgery. Now I know this is very confusing; you’ll hear a variety of different prices quoted, even though they are all using the same technology. And let’s assume that the doctors are all equally qualified and that you’re somewhat reasonable. In other words, you’re not going to go to Tijuana and choose Dr. Nick from The Simpsons just to save a few hundred bucks.

When I got my eyes done, I got a pretty good deal. There were other places that were more expensive, but I’m pretty sure the end result would have been the same. But from one I can deduce, there is one big difference you should consider.

It’s the drugs.

Okay, and maybe the ambience, too.

But mostly the drugs.

I know this because I did a simple compare and contrast of my own experience with my friend who had the same surgery. Her surgery experience pretty much went like this:

“It was so easy. I arrived early and sat in this cushy lounge area with nice calming music and chamomile tea. They gave me some calming drugs like a good 30 minutes beforehand, so by the time I got into the operating room I was all relaxed. The surgery was done in maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and by the time I got home my drugs had really kicked in, so I just went to sleep. When I woke up I had 20/20 vision!”

My friend probably paid a good $1000 more than I did. Here was my experience:

I arrived about an hour early and was ushered into an examining room for another last-minute look at my eyes. Up until this point I had never actually met the doctor who was doing my surgery, so right before my surgery he comes into the room. He tells me he is “Dr. C” and then starts looking at my chart.

“You know that you’ll likely need reading glasses in the fourth decade?”

“Uh…sure,” I say, somewhat confused. Fourth decade? Who talks like this? And why wasn’t he making idle chitchat with me or exchanging pleasantries? I was beginning to realize that I had chosen a laser eye surgery factory, as opposed to a swanky “center” or its illustrious brother, the “institute”. I was just another patient on the assembly line; thousands of bucks made within ten minutes.

“Yes,” I agree again. “I will be turning two score in about a year, my good man.”

I don’t think Dr. C. was amused.

I was then handed a small valium about thirty seconds before being escorted into the operating room. At least I was told it was valium. It could have been some placebo or St. Joseph aspirin. How else could they afford to charge me only $1300 per eye? They had to cut corners somewhere. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to work fast enough; I was about to have thin membranes peeled back from my eyes, for God’s sake, and you choose to give me the drugs now?

When I got into the operating room I was handed a little stuffed animal to hold, which was a nice touch. (I bet that the stuffed animal at my friend’s place was brand new and cootie-free, and she probably got to take it home). But nonetheless I clung to the ratty stuffed animal that thousands of nearsighted people before me had probably held.

Okay so honestly the surgery itself was quick and painless. They put so many numbing drops in your eyes that you really can’t feel a thing, and even though your eyes are clamped open, you don’t feel any urge to blink. Trust me on this; even without the good drugs, ultra lounge, and soothing sounds of Enya, I was okay.

Immediately after the surgery I could almost read the entire eye chart – hey, that thing has actual letters on it! Who knew? I was told that within a few days I would be able to read the entire chart.

I then put on some huge goggles and sunglasses, and I my husband carefully led me to the car. I called my mom, all giddy with joy, much like Adam Kendall after he had that experimental surgery on his blindness. (Adam Kendall? Mary Ingalls’ husband? Anyone?)

Within about 10 minutes my joy quickly faded. The numbing drops were wearing off, and suddenly it felt like all of my eyelashes were sticking straight into my eyes. By the time I got home it was even worse. What was going on here? I thought that I was supposed to fall asleep and avoid all this unpleasantness. How in tarnation would I be able to fall asleep when my eyeballs were basically on fire with pain?

Lucky for me, I happened to have some other drugs at my disposal, namely some that I knew would make me sleepy (thank you, anxiety disorder!)  I popped one of those babies and waited in agony for the sleepiness to overtake me. Thankfully, it did.

I am happy to report that I do have 20/20 vision; and despite being in my fourth decade, I am not wearing reading glasses – yet.


A Visit from Saint Vitus* December 10, 2014

The following poem is based on a true story. Believe me, I would not make this shit up. My apologies to Clement Clark Moore.

A Visit from Saint Vitus*

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house;

Our family was anxiously awaiting the Klaus.

All together up North, almost in the U.P.;

We were all having fun, and laughing with glee.

When all of a sudden it came to a stop;

“It’s time to go, kids,” said my hubby (their pop).

So the kids started packing, and put on their caps;

They’d have to wait a while for their long winter’s naps.

Though months had passed since we had this plan,

Right at the last minute their mom said, “No, Anne.”

I will schedule my own plans, and disregard yours;

And with that ballsy move, my jaw dropped to the floors.

I’ve scheduled a train trip, she smiled with glee;

So I’ll need the kids just a bit ear-ly.

See this is what happens when you deal with divorce;

And sometimes the rules are hard to enforce.

We thought of the kids, so they left on vacation;

They’d meet with their mom, up at some gas station.

My husband would travel and meet her half way;

But little did he know he needed a sleigh.

A snowstorm broke out, so the roads were pretty slick;

In fact the whole ride almost made him real sick.

When out on the Honda there arose such a clatter;

Dan checked out the car to see what was the matter.

He couldn’t drive home, of that he was sure;

He just knew more crap he had to endure.

His ex had been safe; no snow did she find;

And now he was stuck, just sitting on his hind.

But now it was Christmas, and strangers are good;

“I’ll give you a ride,” one said, “Up to the ‘Nort Wood.”

Dan hopped in his truck, and he gave us a call;

“I made it,” he said, “But it’s still a snow squall.”

“This stranger can drive me, but only so far;

You’ll need to come meet me, so get into your car.”

Then I left with my brother and his now ex-wife;

Out into the snow; ‘cause that’s Sconnie life.

We made it past Peshtigo, then out in the county;

We charged through the storm like a Canadian Mountie.

The snow came down hard –  it was really hard to see;

“Charge on,” I said. “We must find my hon-ee”.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a tiny strip club, and we let out a cheer.

We knew this was the place – we weren’t idiotic;

Besides, their Christmas lights spelled out ‘EXOTIC’.

The only business open across many miles;

A nice place to stop and admire some smiles.

We came to a stop and picked up my man;

He was now safe and sound in my brother’s minivan.

As we left the parking lot I swore I heard a shout;

It must be Saint Vitus – of this I had no doubt.

More rapid than eagles his dancers they came;

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Bambi! now, Crystal! now Lola and Brandy!

On, Ginger! on, Tawny! on, Portia and Candy!

To the top of the pole! to the top of their laps!

Now dance away! dance away! dance away for those chaps!”

Our night wasn’t over; we headed back on the road;

And we came upon strangers who needed to be towed.

We quickly stopped the car; we hopped out to help;

One, two, three – PUSH! We said in a yelp.

Their car now was free – we had done our good deed;

Then we bid them adieu; and told them not to speed.

We finally got home – we’d survived the ordeal;

Who knew what else the night would reveal.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard a falsetto;

The prancing and pawing of each little stiletto.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Vitus came with a bound.

He was dressed all in leather, from his foot to his head,

And his tiny g-string was just held by a thread.

He was more like a Farley and less like a Swayze;

His Chippendales days seemed just a bit hazy.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And started to gyrate; and then he would twerk.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he started to strip —

“Happy Christmas to all, and don’t forget to tip!”


*Saint Vitus is the patron saint of dancers.