(Pay attention. There will be a quiz afterward.)

Q: The cramp in your calf?

A: Potassium deficiency.

Q: The swollen blood vessels? The tingling in your chin?

A: Deep vein thrombosis. Pulmonary embolism risk: (must be) elevated (has to be).

A: Or: mild dehydration + pinched nerve.

A: Or: psychosomatic.

Q: You’re five and shopping with your mom, exploring, isolated, crawling through racks of hollow, denim legs as hangers skate the racks above you. You think maybe you’re not alone (evidence: unexplained perspiration, fluttering bowels, warm hand on left thigh. Or no. It’s ok. That’s your hand. Right?).

A: Venous insufficiency.

Q: The apologizing just for being there?

A: Autoimmune disorder.

A: The tingling’s in your arm now, left. 

Q: The time?

A: 2:37 a.m. But you’re missing the point (again). Get your panic in order. You’re thinking stroke—note the time for a stroke.

A: For the record: clot-busting meds need to be delivered within four hours (you checked).

Q: Is it age-dependent?

A: You’re 44, give or take. You’ve taken 7,632 steps to end up back where you started (nothing left to give).

A: You formulate a theory: Big Mindfulness + Big Data = Big Letdown

Q: Risk of cardiovascular events? A: Higher now. Should’ve taken more stairs.  (No extra credit for shame induction. The Vatican, however, promises to send a badge. [Except: you’re a woman. A certificate from the local laity will suffice. Q: What are your feelings on Clip Art?])

A: Kiss your husband’s cheek. Do it.

Q: He smells like…what?

A: File that away.

Q: Don’t check on your son.

A: You know how that ends. Drag yourself in next to him for another jittery night trained on his thumping heart, one skipped beat away from catastrophe. Plus, good luck explaining why you never stay till morning (Well, honey, I often think about death. I’m sure you’re fine. You’re young.).

Q: Your jacket?

A: Over your robe over your nightgown.

A: Drive to the ER (for comfort only (save on the copay)).

A: Sit in the parking lot.

A: Wait. (A) just-in-case scenario. It’s OK. You’ll not-sleep better here.

Q: You set an alarm on your phone.

A: It’s already set.

A: You’ll be home before dawn, before they wonder about donuts. Home in time to wipe the night’s sticky uncertainty from their eyes, to lick your fingers, to convince yourself it’s for them that you do this. 

Q&A: You swore off vodka-tonics-hold-the-tonic (failed A) for the parking lot of a hospital you don’t even trust (too many Qs).

A: You pull out three scratch tickets and rub them off. You don’t check to see if you’ve won. You know exactly how this ends.

Q: You’ve never noticed your son by the bedroom window as you pull away?

A: The tingling is definitely a pinched nerve. It’s ok. It’ll be numb soon enough.


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