August 20, 2003

Law School Hell: Story #1

#1: The Shot
Ever since I decided to go to law school, it seems I've been faced with an endless line of hoops to jump through and obstacles to overcome. With the terribly painful and stressful LSAT, the legthy, redundant and expensive applications, the grueling financial aid forms and loan application process, I had just about had enough of the whole ordeal by the time I got my acceptance to UC Hastings. Since then I've had to fill out yet more forms for my loans, direct deposit, California residency certification (although I applied as a CA student, I went to high school and undergrad in CA and worked in San Francisco since graduation), but the absolute worst hoop I've had to jump through has been the completion of the physical examination form that's required to both be officially registered at the college and to receive their student health insurance.

Although I thought that I had read all of the material that they sent me very carefully, I didn't even know that this form was required until I was reading the checklist/reminder that came with my orientation packet. Not only did I have to schedule a physical examination with my doctor, but I also had to dig up my immunization records and hope that they were complete and up-to-date so I wouldn't have to get any shots. I am soooooo afraid of syringes. I'm getting cold shivers just thinking about it.l

Luckily, although I don't remember when, my parents gave me that little yellow immunization card you have to show your elementary and high schools. I had spoken to the nurse at my doctor's office when I called to make my appointment and told her I wasn't sure if I had my records, and she told me that I'd have to get the shots if I couldn't find it. THAT would have sucked... it may have even killed me...

So, my appointment was on a Wednesday, and took about 10 minutes total. My doctor has never been that thorough when I've gone to see her, but that's OK with me, b/c there's nothing really wrong with me and I'd rather be out of there as quickly as possible anyway. From looking at my records and the Hastings form, she said that I needed both a TB skin test and a tetanus shot since I hadn't had one since 1992. I have very little fear of stepping on a rusty nail but I have a huge fear of injections, so I tried to express my apprehension jokingly but she just snapped at me that it was up to me and she couldn't do anything about it if I refused to handle my own health care responsible. I immediately became defensive and said that of course I would do it... but then I felt silly because I suspected that she had purposefully manipulated that response out of me. For some reason, she said that I would have to come back on Monday for the skin test and the shot. I guess that was because you have to come back 48 hours after the test to show them you don't have TB and getting me a 2 minute appointment on a Friday would be too much trouble.

So I came back on Monday and got the TB skin test and tetanus shot. The whole day at work before I left for my appointment, people kept telling me that tetanus shots ache more than others, which just made me more nervous and tempted me to just not do it at all. But I did it and I didn't even cry... much. After I got the shot, my arm and shoulder felt stiff. That night, my arm was very achey and tender so that it hurt to move my left arm to get dressed for bed and I couldn't sleep on my left side like I usually do, but I also couldn't sleep on my right because my arm felt heavy and achey draped over my body. I got up the next day having slept for probably only a couple hours total. That day, Tuesday, my arm hurt pretty bad all day. Getting dressed hurt, especially when my shirt pressed on my arm when pulling it on. We were doing a big office-moving project at work that required picking up, sorting and boxing huge stacks of documents and then lifting those boxes. Throughout the day, I would move my arm in a particular way and say "ouch" involuntarily. I always do crap like that, even when not in pain, so no one else or I paid much attention to my arm pain. Besides, I kept telling myself that it wasn't unusual to have discomfort and even a little swelling after a tetanus shot. I live in mortal fear of over-reacting to stuff... but sometimes it keeps me from acting when I should. Tuesday night was worse than Monday night because the pain was worse, and I noticed just before I went to bed that my arm was actually pretty swollen, terse, red and warm. Ewwww!

During my 2nd day of little-to-no sleep, I couldn't ignore the pain anymore, so of course I went around showing my gross, pained arm to my co-workers... more to gross them out and thus distract myself than anything. Despite repeated trips to to assure myself that I was just being a baby, I resolved to show my arm to the nurse when I went in to have my TB test read (which was, of course, totally negative... who gets TB these days anyway?). At the doctor's, the nurse took a quick look at my test area and began to walk away when I called her back to look at my arm. The look on her face when she saw it frightened me more than I had thusfar been able to frighten myself, which is amazing considering the level of paranoia/neurosis I seem to suffer from. She had me see the doctor right away, although I didn't have an appointment, who grabbed my swollen, insanely painful arm, squeezed it, poked the swollen part and said "yep, that's a reaction there." Duh. She began to write me a prescription for some medication, saying that it was extremely rare to have a reaction to a tetanus shot, "much less a reaction as severe as this... I think it's the worst reaction to a tetanus shot I've ever seen." Oddly, this disconcerting piece of info relieved me... I somehow felt vindicated in my fear and my complaints, winces and sleeplessness due to the pain. Perhaps I'm not always just blowing things out of proportion... Nah.

So, I had to go to the pharmacy to get antibiotics and lots of Motrin. She told me to take "three three times a day", so I decided to take just 2 three times a day for the first couple days and then just 1... I'm also paranoid about taking too much medicine. During my consultation with the pharmacist, she told me to take all 10 days worth of pills and that there were no know drug interactions except... it "severely impacts the effectiveness of birth control pills for up to 10 days" after the last antibiotic. This was the last straw for me. Law school had forced me to study for that b.s. test, fill out tons of applications, debate my "ethnic background", pay way to much in application fees, wait in agony for all my rejections to come in and my one acceptance, fill out more forms, sweat, wait, agonize, fax, email, call, visit various offices, take out a lot, a lot of loans, get pricked for a TB test, and get a frightening shot that caused me to have a rare, terrible reaction, but now they were fucking with my "reproductive freedom"!? I was so mad that I wanted to call and cancel my acceptance, or at least bitch out someone in the health services department. How many hoops does a girl have to jump through to get into law school around here! And how much personal sacrifice do I have to make, as if the majority of my time and my mental space isn't enough for them!? Anyway, the pain seemed to lessen by the time I took my 3rd antibiotic (or perhaps it was all that Motrin) and the swelling went away on the 3rd day.

The odd thing about this is that now that I've actually gone through my first two days of orientation, dropped an additional $900 for a laptop on top of my educational expenses and paid $500 for the seven books I need for the semester, and turned in that damned health form, I feel like it's all down hill from here. The reading assignments and my class schedule don't scare me or stress me out much (yet), it's the bureaucratic run-around, expenses and shots that really get to me. Experiences like this make me think that I could never travel to a place that required me to get immunizations first... I'd say "I'd rather die", but now I have the sneaking suspicion that such an immunization could actually...

0) $paginate_current_page = 0; $paginate_sections = array( 0 ); $paginate_top_section = $paginate_sections[$paginate_current_page-1]+1; $paginate_bottom_section = $paginate_sections[$paginate_current_page]; } else { $paginate_top_section = 1; $paginate_bottom_section = 0; } $paginate_self = '&' . $_SERVER['QUERY_STRING'] . '&'; $paginate_self = preg_replace("/&page=[^&]*&/", "&", $paginate_self); $paginate_self = substr($paginate_self, 1, strlen($paginate_self) - 1); if($paginate_self == '&') $paginate_self = ''; else $paginate_self = htmlentities($paginate_self); $paginate_self = basename($_SERVER['PHP_SELF']) . "?${paginate_self}page"; ?> Posted by Kristina at August 20, 2003 12:19 AM

Oh my dear, that sounds absolutely beastly! As paranoid as you are about the medication thing, I would still advise that you take all the antibiotics, cuz you don't want to build up immunity to them. I miss you tons, my love!!

Posted by: kati at August 20, 2003 01:13 PM

You're not gonna get knocked up, are you?

Posted by: sean at August 20, 2003 02:02 PM

I got a taste of Kris' ethnic background today. Now there are 60 lumpia in my freezer. I should throw a lumpia gorging party? Any comers?

Posted by: cody at August 20, 2003 02:50 PM

i will comb! wait...

Posted by: didofoot at August 20, 2003 02:55 PM

I'm sorry to hear about the swelling. Now I realize that your irrational fears have a basis in reality.

Posted by: cody at August 20, 2003 02:55 PM

Yeah yeah yeah, i see how it is. wait till she moves away and then stuff your selfish little freezers with the mouth-watering-soon-to-be-fried-and-golden gems of Phillipino goodness. nice, real nice. well I've got Eggo waffles down here, so ... there.

Posted by: kati at August 20, 2003 07:43 PM

Kati, if you know that you'll be coming up here during a weekend, let me know in advance so you can get in on the lumpia making to. After today's lesson I feel emboldened enough to strike out on my own lumpia-making adventures, but I know my grandma enjoys doing it at her place and would love you have you (and pretty much anyone else) over to make those little gems.

Sean, of course not. Have no fear.

As for my irrational fear... I have this new irrational fear that this recent justification of my fear will make me more likely to believe that my I.F.'s (irrational fears) are legit when they're really not. What if I'm no longer able to control or contain my needless, pointless anxiety over every little thing... Kim Gibson and I used to have these rings that we called our I.F. rings b/c they were supposed to remind us that most of our fears were just I.F.'s, and even if they weren't, it helped me deal w/ it anyway. Mine got destroyed by an over-chlorinated hot tub at the Rio Hotel in Vegas. God, I hate Vegas...

Posted by: Kristina at August 20, 2003 08:32 PM

Being irrationally afraid of hot tubs is probably a good policy. But I think you should start trusting cabbies.

Posted by: sean at August 21, 2003 11:02 AM

So.... September 10-15th, I'm up for a long weekend and I hope we can eat some good fried Phillipino things at that time. But really, I would be happy just to see you.

Posted by: Kati at August 21, 2003 02:25 PM