The Q-tip War

[Welcome, Carnival of the Mundane Readers! The following was originally from a column I wrote several years ago: #51 Beware the Q-tip!]

The Q-tip War

Have you ever gotten yourself into a really big mess, and you were the only one to blame? Boy, I sure did. It all started with a Q-tip. What is worse, I read the label first.


This seemed strange to me, as I do not know of any other uses for a Q-tip. Moreover, I figured, these warnings are just slapped on products to protect the companies from liability. I mean, have you ever read the back of your toothpaste?

“If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing contact a Poison Control Center immediately.”

If that were true, I would have been dead 20 years ago. And don’t get me started about Pert Plus.

So, you can see my disdain for the warning label. If you are bright, you can also see where I am going with this. I started doing the Q-tip thing, minding my own business. By the way, don’t think I am sick and twisted, but does anyone else really enjoy the Q-tip experience, maybe more than they should? Um, me neither, I was just checking.

Well, I get done with the left ear and pull the Q-tip out. Low and behold, there is no wax-filled cotton on the end. I am not panicking yet, because I figure to solve the problem all I have to do is stick the point of the Q-tip back in my ear and fish out the swab. Of course, like nine kinds of idiot, what I succeed in doing is pushing the cotton further in, so it is resting right up against my brain matter, such as it is. Ok, now I am panicking a bit. I start to run around, rummaging for I don’t know what-something rectify the situation. I have to get a hold of myself. Ok, I am 25 years old, reasonably well edumacated, and a fairly competent person; what should I do. The answer, like a flash of light, comes to me: call mom.

At this point, some of you may be laughing at me, thinking ‘what a baby,’ but old habits die-hard. Mom has always been able to fix these things, and now did not seem like the time to change that. The problem is that my parents have just moved to another country, and I don’t know their phone number off the top of my head, or even if I can call collect to Canada. Finally, I find the number, and—hands shaking—begin to dial. It is six in the morning in Canada, but I don’t even give that a moment’s thought. After a sleepy dad accepts the charges, I get right to it. “Dad, put mom on, it may be an emergency.”

Mom suggests tweezers. Why didn’t I think of that? Maybe because if you are dumb enough to get cotton stuck in your ear, common-sense approaches do not spring readily to mind. My dad comes back on as I start searching for tweezers. Of course, I don’t have any. I pillage my roommate’s attaché case, but to no avail. My father breaks the bad news: I am going to have to go to the medical clinic.

In a near panic, I stumble out to the car, barefoot, and drive myself to the closest clinic. I lurch in and go to the front desk. “Somebody has to help me!” They are only too happy to help, after I fill out fourteen insurance forms. Then wait. And wait. And wait some more.

I sit there for a total of two and half hours, all the time scared to death that the cotton is going to migrate to my hypothalamus and give me brain damage, or something worse. A guy on crutches is called before me. What does he have to worry about? His foot is not going to get any more broken.

On the plus side, I did manage to read three magazines cover-to-cover, one that was actually from the current year. This may not be the place to bring this up, but why is it doctors’ offices cannot get current magazines? Are sick people second-class citizens? Another time, perhaps.

I finally get back into the examination room, and then the nurse starts her routine. First, she takes my temperature. “I just need someone to pull the wool out of my ear!” I say. Or at least try to say. It is a bit difficult to speak with a thermometer check-blocking my tongue. Then the nurse puts the blood pressure band on me. I hate that thing. My arm is too big, and it always feels like I am going to blow up. Finally, I get the point across to her that my problem is simple, and only requires one step to solve. She tells me that she is not authorized to do that “procedure” and I will have to wait for the doctor.

So, I am sitting there for another twenty minutes. It could be worse, I suppose. They could have asked me to put on a gown. Finally, the doctor arrives. She is totally hot, and any other time I would have tried to make my malady seem mysterious and sexy.

Right now, though, all I want is to be able to hear again. She pulls out the cotton (yay!), and tells me the first good thing I have heard all day: no charge. No charge? I am ecstatic! I kiss the doctor, then I kiss the nurse, and then I kiss the doctor again. (Did I mention she was hot?) For good measure, I kiss the receptionist out front, although he did not take it as well.

People, would that I could be a beacon unto others. Learn from my example. Read the warning labels. Do not put anything in your ears. And for Light’s sake, put on aftershave before you go to the doctor. You never know.

June 29, 2001

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1 comment:

Tracy Lynn said...

I'll try again when I stop laughing.