Phone Calls and Pharmacy Aisles

“Hello,” I respond. My eyes still shut, it’s early, I realize I missed my alarm, and wonder what day it is.

“Hello, may I please speak with Crystal.” The voice on the other end sounds familiar, but it’s too early to figure that out right now. What day is it?

“This is,” I reply. Seriously, do I have class this morning? What day is it?

“Hello Crystal, this is Dr. —-, I am calling about your lab results.” He pauses.

Great. He’s calling. Lab results. This can’t be good. Can someone please tell me something good soon? I’m getting really tired of bad news.

“Your results show that your hemoglobin is at a 6.” He pauses again.

“Is that bad,” I ask. Hemo what? It’s Tuesday, you don’t have class until noon, but you should probably review your notes before class. What time is it?

“Well, yes. I need you to be at a 15-16 for surgery. You’ll need to start taking iron pills three times a day.”

I open my eyes, it’s still dark. “Ok. Just over the counter? Does that work?”

“Yes, that works. Have you been feeling fatigued or tired lately?”

I laugh. Have I been feeling fatigued or tired lately? I am in a graduate program, just completed two years of internship learning how to be a therapist, I have a job, I live in a city that makes me exhausted just thinking about going to the grocery store. Isn’t everyone in Chicago fatigued or tired? “Yes, yes I have been feeling tired lately.”

“Ok, I need you to take the iron 3 times a day, and have you schedule another round of blood work before surgery. This is very important, you cannot have surgery with your blood count this low.”

He asks if I have any questions, I tell him I don’t. The phone call ends. I google ‘what happens when your hemoglobin is low’ and start scrolling, I’m too tired to talk to my doctor on the phone. I am anemic. Great. I don’t have time for anemia. My google search informs me that this is associated with ‘heavy menstrual bleeding’ which can be a result of ‘uterine fibroids.’ Cool. I have that, and now I have anemia.


I call my sister, leave a message. She’s a nurse. She’s my go to for things like this. She’s also the mother of my three adorable and very busy nephews. I wait for her to return my call.

Walking around Target with a cart full of tampons, pads, thermacare heat wraps, orange juice (I read somewhere that it helps your body absorb the iron, couldn’t hurt), my mouth tasting like I just ate a handful of pennies, apparently a result of the iron. I do a quick mental tally of what this is going to cost me. It’s starting to add up. My sister returns my call.

“Hey what’s up? Is everything ok,” she asks.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Everything’s going to be fine.” I tell her about the early morning wake up call. She also seems surprised that I’ve been functioning on such a low blood count.

“Yeah, it’s weird. I didn’t really think of it. I just have so much right now, with school and work, and I am trying to get done. I don’t sleep well anyway, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.”

We talk for a little bit. She tells me a few of those ‘you’ll never guess what your nephew did’ stories. I live for those stories. Those little angels. We laugh as I push the cart through the pharmacy aisles. I wish she were here. I have to pee. Again. Why do I have to pee so much? I just went fifteen minutes ago.

“Did he tell you to take a stool softener,” she asks.

“Uh. No.”

“Well, you should probably take it. Iron is going to make pooping difficult.” She laughs.   I laugh. I almost pee my pants.

“Good to know. Where would that be in the pharmacy section of a Target,” I ask her. I’m running out of time. I have to pee. I have to pee so bad my teeth hurt (fun fact about me- my teeth hurt when I have to urinate- you’re welcome).

She laughs, “I wish I were at Target.”

Me too, I think.  I wish she was here too. She’s so good at this stuff. And it’s nice to laugh about periods, anemia, and stool softener with her. Really nice.

“I have to find it soon, I’m going to pee my pants, in Target. I’m now doing a pee dance looking for stool softener. How is this my life?” We laugh. That doesn’t help the having to pee situation.

“Can you just ask someone where it is? It would probably be faster,” she says.

“I am NOT asking someone where the stool softener is right now.”

I keep dancing. I see it. Bottom shelf, back aisle. Of course. Thanks to whoever decided this was the best place for it.

I make it to the bathroom just in time, or so I think. I have to pee, so bad. But I can’t. Nothing. I wait. Nothing. The most frustrated feeling. Nothing. My eyes get watery, not out of pain, but out of sadness. My body is so messed up right now. Maybe try again later.

What is going on inside there?
My uterus hates me.
Now I can’t even use other parts of my body correctly.

I want it out of me.
Take it out, and throw it away.

I’m so tired,

And I just want to go to the bathroom.


(Some art I tried to make about what my feelings of an upcoming hysterectomy. It did not turn out how I wanted. Looking back that seems appropriate.)

Oil Pastels, Paper

March 2018

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