I’ve said it before: I do not do well with change. Or stress. And that usually manifests itself in physical ways, meaning my insides get all jacked up.
The night before I was supposed to move away for college I strained my back. I had a bunch of friends over as a last goodbye-type thing and we were slumber-partying it up in my oven of a bedroom (no air conditioning mixed with top floor of an old, poorly insulated farmhouse in August is pretty much how you’d expect hell to feel).
I’d worked for the summer at a small grocery store about 10 minutes from my house. I started as a regular checker, then progressed to an unofficial bagger/stocker, mostly because the stock boys got paid more per hour than the checkers and they didn’t want to hire someone new and have to dish out the extra 50 cents per hour.
(No, I’m not still bitter about that. Why do you ask?)
But I worked my butt off and did lots of heavy lifting and straightening and stocking. I’d felt random twinges in my back, but I didn’t think it was anything to worry about. (I’m of the ‘ignore it and it isn’t really happening’ persuasion.)
Until, of course, the night before I left for college.
I STRAIN MY BACK THE NIGHT BEFORE I LEAVE FOR COLLEGE!
It was awful. I could barely move, much less carry boxes and suitcases full of CDs, clothes and various contraband toasters and coffee pots and other appliances.
That first week at school was only a freshman orientation-type thing where we had to go to different classes on time management or the library or random, mostly pointless stuff. Basically I went so I could move in early and avoid some of the crowds.
And I thought I was fine, but I also tend to not deal with things as they are happening. It’s only later when I’ve had time and years to analyze the situation that I discover that basically, inside, I was freaking the frack out.
It’s not like I hadn’t been away from home by myself before, but this was different. I was ON MY OWN. I did my own grocery shopping, paid my own phone bill (back when everyone still had non-cellular telephones), and washed my own dishes.
At some point the beginning of the week I’d developed a cold sore on my lip. I’d never had one before and I didn’t realize that if you so much as think of touching it the small mark will balloon into the monster of all cold sores and you will have random, newly colleged people attempt unsuccessfully not to stare at your besmirched face.
I also developed a throat thing that didn’t bother me all the time, just when I swallowed or breathed or moved my head to look at eye level instead of down at everyone’s shoes.
Luckily the doctor had given me some sweet pain pills that made everything feel better, so I guess it was a win?
By Thursday I was so physically miserable that I decided to go see the campus doctor. I figured that I was mature enough and grown up enough to do what needed to be done. Plus my mom made me do it.
So after examining me the doctor gives me her diagnosis.
Well, basically that’s herpes you disgusting slut. (Is what I heard.)
That sore is called herpes (stupid, immature whore).
And that is when I break down. Completely. Lost. IT.
I cry and blubber so much that the nice, helpful* doctor actually calls my mom because she doesn’t realize what I’m so worked up about.
What she hasn’t told me and what I figure out all on my own is that there is a difference between herpes and, you know, HERPES.
I had a cold sore that can be caused by a cold or STRESS OF EPIC PROPORTIONS. Like life-changing situations.
I did not have an STD.
I was done with that week.
I packed up my stuff and left orientation early, missing out on one class and thus losing the free T-shirt you got for attending all of them. (Still kind of bummed about that one.)
I cried most of the way home.
(I did go back at the end of the weekend, though, to a roommate who recorded soap operas to watch later and wore clothes that reminded me of a 40-year-old woman.)
(Just for kicks here's a photo collage of my actual back injury. I have to keep it this big so you can fully appreciate the visualness. Also, my room was awesome and I miss it.)
|Clockwise from top left: Happy, Happy, OH SHIT MY BACK!!, can't move, need |
boyfriend to cheer me up with a sock monkey-like elephant. And scene.