Thursday, April 30, 2009


A few months ago I posted about my (supposed) brush with Bell’s Palsy and how I wasn’t too sure Dr K, my all-knowing internist, had diagnosed me correctly. Since then I have endured all manner of tests and biological invasions on a quest for the true origin of my strange symptoms. The bottom line is that I do not have, nor have I ever had Bell’s, but no one seems to know what I do have, despite the occasional recurrence of my strange symptoms.

Perhaps I should back up first to say I have been working from home this week due to a bad case of bronchitis (no, not Swine Flu even though Mr. S, my horrible, evil boss, just stuck his head in my cubette and oinked at me) so as a result I had been feeling poorly already. Who knew that Monday night, out of the clear blue, I would suddenly experience another episode of The Curiously Expanding Face? My lips suddenly blew up twice the size of Octo Mom’s, my jaws grew to Kirk Douglas-proportions and the Hives from Hell came back with a vengeance. This was truly adding insult to injury given the fact that I was already miserable from the bronchitis. Remembering what my doctor had said about documenting an episode if possible, I ran upstairs and took a load of photos of my poor, swollen face, intending to present the evidence as soon as I could get an appointment with Dr J, my neurologist.

The next morning I called Dr J to make an appointment. Since my esteemed internist Dr K handed me off to Dr J I have been seeing him every time I have another episode, so naturally I thought I should go back to him ASAP. First, however, I had to run the gauntlet and get past his nurse, Big Bertha, R.N.

8:33 am Leave long, tearful, croaky voice mail for Bertha, explaining my latest bout of facial swelling and hives has returned; beg for same-day appointment with Dr J. Hang up and stare at the phone for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

11:10 am Still no return call from Nurse Bertha. Decide to call again. Dial main number and ask for her extension.

Switch board operator: “I’m sorry; Bertha is not at her desk. Please hold while we find her.”

I am on hold for 10 minutes listening to "Best of Burl Ives" on Musak, wondering why I didn’t use the land line to call. I fret about the cell phone minutes being wasted. There are children in Africa who don’t have any cell phone minutes.

11:25 am “Hello, this is Bertha.”

RL: “Bertha, this is Racie Lover. I left you a message this morning. I need to see Dr J immediately. I am having another EPISODE!”

Bertha: “Honey, I just checked my voice mail from this morning. There was no message from you.”

RL: (on verge of psychotic episode) “I left one, I swear. Anyway, I have GOT to see Dr J today. It’s an emergency (I am barely able to whisper this admonition due to my bronchitis. I hope I sound pitiful. I am desperate).

B: “Honey, I don’t have any openings this week or next…”

RL: I interrupt her “No, no, no! I have GOT to see him TODAY…”

B: interrupts me mid-sentence “Oh, I have a cancellation today at 2:45…”


B: “Because I just saw it on my screen. Honey, you’re over-reacting.”

RL: I am incredulous. Do they teach dismissiveness in nursing school? I am ready to reach through the phone, pull out Bertha’s false teeth and cram them up her nose “If you felt like I do you wouldn’t say I’m over-reacting. I will be there at 2:45. Thank you.” I slam down the cover of my cell phone in the absence of a receiver to slam down onto the cradle. I cry and feel sorry for myself, then go shopping online.

2:30 pm Paco takes me to my doctor’s appointment, having been summoned from work by my tearful plea of helplessness. I tell him how horrible Bertha was to me and he must punch her lights out.

We check in at reception and Paco picks up a survey form, intending to write Bertha up for making me cry.

3:25pm: Bertha emerges from the back and calls my name.

Paco: “Is that her?”

RL: “Yes, that’s Bertha. Keep me away from her. I may have to deck her.”

Paco: “Don’t worry, Sweetheart. Bertha’s going down.”

Bertha leads us to an examination room, where we sit while she plays doctor and asks me questions. I pull out my sheet with the various photos I have taken the night before showing my swollen lips, hugely expanded jaws and hives. Bertha studies it carefully, obviously impressed.

Bertha: “Oh geez, Honey, women pay good money to get those big lips you have there. Wow, those are impressive. What do they call that stuff they inject?”

RL: “Collagen”, I offer, deciding neurology nurses must not watch “Nip Tuck”. “Ha, ha, that’s pretty funny, Nurse Bertha. Just think of the money I’m saving on cosmetic surgery!” I want to take her out but am afraid I would look like Meg Ryan in my mug shot, and not in a good way.

Just then Dr J comes in and Bertha vanishes. I tell him about my latest attack and he, too, is impressed with my photo essay. Paco and I plead for answers, the whole time both of us wondering if we should bust Bertha and tell Dr J what a horrible battle ax she is. We decide he already knows that and it is the reason he hired her. She is also uglier than home-made sin, which no-doubt pleases Dr J’s wife.

All of the above ended with Dr J finally telling me my problem is not neurological but some kind of systemic reaction and to go to my allergist. Paco and I leave his office, dejected. I call Dr L, the allergist, and make an appointment to go see her the next day. During my appointment the following day she quizzes me and then tells me to stop taking ibuprofen and call her if my symptoms still return. Allergic to ibuporfen? Who knew? Naturally I Googled it when I got home and what do you know? Apparently this kind of severe allergic reaction is very common.

Perhaps my mystery illness has finally been solved. "Case closed" as Dr. Kildaire would say. I certainly hope so. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Lately there has been a huge kafuffle over Susan Boyle, the plucky came-from-nowhere Scots lady who wowed even Simon Cowell last week on "Britain's Got Talent". Mostly the comments and blogs have been overwhelmingly favorable, with the few dissenting voices apparently coming from embittered, failed Patty Page wannabes and competing spinsters who are worried there is about to be one less of their own amongst them. I actually read a rather scathing post yesterday penned by Nora Ephron that does not bear repeating here (mostly because I think she would not hesitate to sue the pants off of me). I put her in the category of Sour Grapes, someone who has made lots of money dissing various ex-husbands and boyfriends, so I'm not sure I value her opinion much anyway.

The point of all this is that I am in the ranks of those who think Ms Boyle really has some genuine talent and isn't just a one-hit wonder. If you Google her 1999 rendition of "Cry Me a River" I think you will agree with me. I'm no expert, mind you, but I think she can sing pretty darn well and I can't wait for her to publish her first CD.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to judge people by the way they look and not what might be in their hearts, souls or vocal chords just waiting to be freed if given a chance. Haven't we all known someone who didn't quite seem to fit in, but after we got to know them they won us over with their determination, their inner joy, their sense of humor? Years ago I was at my high school prom and found myself talking to a guy that I had known all through school but had never given the time of day to. We ended up talking for close to an hour (I have no idea where my date was) and I saw a side of him that I had no idea existed, purely because I had been so busy judging him by his looks. I ended up having a huge crush on Alan and even though we never went out on a date, we kept in touch for many years, exchanging Christmas cards and chatting at our high school reunions. Years later when he sent me a wedding announcement my first thought was "what a lucky girl".

We should all be so lucky to meet someone like Alan. Or Susan Boyle. Or at least have the privilege of talking to them or hearing them sing and not judge them by their looks. Their heart and soul has always been right in front of us, if we will only take the time to look and listen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"Dear Diary,
I saw Tiger Woods today at The Masters! Or rather, I saw his golf cap, his shoulders and his profile, sort of. There were approx. 500 spectators who separated me from His Majesty and I don't think even yelling "Fire" or "I just saw President Obama at the concession stand" would have made any difference. But I was closer to greatness than I have ever been, unless you count the time I met Neil Diamond..."

You don’t have to be a golfer or even enjoy or understand golf to appreciate the beauty of Augusta National Golf Club. There is something almost surreal about the intense colors and environment of The Masters, the deep pink azaleas, the intoxicating fragrance of the majestic pine trees, the cloud-like Dogwoods that seem to float above the smooth, rolling greens. No calendar, website or HD TV can ever do it justice. You just have to be there….

Friday, April 3, 2009


Paco and I are off to Augusta this weekend, having (finally) won some much-coveted tickets to a practice round of the Masters. While I would surely trade my favorite rescue club for tickets to the actual tournament, going to a practice round is the next-best-thing.

I will be back next week with lots of stories and photos of the course, my bank account no-doubt depleted, however, after a shopping spree in the Pro Shop.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


In case some of you missed Sister K's follow-up comments regarding the Rice Remedy, it seems that it actually worked and her iphone is now good as new! Who knew there were so many facinating and practical uses for this versatile grain?

Here are a few other remedies that I have tried over the years, or they have been suggested to me. Some of the more ominous ones I have shyed away from however.

Swallow one tablespoon of white vinegar upside down and then hold your breath for at least one minute. This one works pretty well as long as you like vinegar, which I do. Unfortunately my hiccups are usually replaced with severe indigestion and projectile vomiting. Better to keep hiccuping.

Drench in Club Soda immediately and then blot dry. Unfortunately, this one never, ever has worked for me, including the time my wonderful friend and wedding planner drenched the bodice of my wedding dress with soda after 'someone' spilled red wine down the front of it. I ended up with a pink wine stain plus water stains on my beautiful frock. Paco still married me, though, thank goodness. Unfortunately, I was then sent to Betty Ford for a month and I missed the honeymoon.

Another remedy that works better than club soda is covering the area in salt, which draws the stain out of the fabric. I tried this one time during a dinner party when Louise's tail knocked over a full glass of red wine all over the white linen-covered ottoman. You can hardly tell there was ever a problem now, especially given that the cat has since thrown up where the wine stain was so now the whole thing is sort of coffee-colored.

When my mother was about 5 years old she decided to eat an entire bunch of bananas. Given that she was an only child, worshiped by her entire family and had just survived being biten by a rabid cat, my grandmother was taking no chances. So Mother was given most of the contents of a bottle of Ipecac, which made her violently ill and rid her system of the evil bananas almost immediately. I would have thought Ipecac would be far worse than wolfing down a few unoffensive bananas but then I don't have children so what do I know.

Please feel free to write in with your favorite home remedies and I will publish them here as a public service. Btw, if anyone knows how to get rid of the rust stains on the back of my favorite white golf cap I would be most grateful.