Thursday, August 6, 2009

Someone Please Flush My Brain

The phone rang. I have come to dread the phone ringing. I dread it more now.

Patron: I just got back from the doctor and I was wondering if you can look up the diagnosis I got for me.

Me: Sure. What is it?

Patron: Volo Van Ginis.

Me: Um, can you spell that for me?

Patron: Yeah, let me read it to you. It’s V-O-L-O. Then V-A-N, like the car. Then G-I-N-I-S, you know, like vagina. I don’t know how to spell vagina. Maybe you know.

Maybe the roof will cave in. Maybe Arms will have another drill for us. Maybe Canada will declare war on us and suddenly blow my town off the map.

These are things I was hoping for as I looked up “volo van ginis”, spelled like vagina.

It wasn’t hard for me to figure out she meant vulvovaginitis. Someone else might not have been so quick to catch the link there and imagine the squirming to find it.

I didn’t correct her. I simply searched for the right word and asked what information she needed about the disease.

Patron: Everything you can give me.

Me: Okay, well, there are a few trustworthy websites with lots of information, so I can print this out for you and keep it at the reference desk if you’d like to come pick it up?

Patron: No, I have arthritis all over my body and can’t walk. I don’t get into the library ever.

Me: Okay, do you have an email account?

Patron: No, honey, I don’t have a computer.

Me: Oh. Well, I suppose I could mail this to—

Patron: No, I need the information right now. Can’t you read it to me?

Read you information about your infected vagina? Sure. Perhaps the 10 people sitting near me will enjoy this because I sure won’t.

Me: Ummmmmm, what did you want to know?

Patron: Well! I want to know what the doctor wouldn’t tell me, because you know they gave me this cream and it’s just making things worse. I have all this swelling and pain. And a discharge, and—

Me: Ma’am! What did you want me to read to you?

Patron: and an odor, which is really bad! And the doctor said that I needed to use this cream, which is just making me burn and itch, and the smell is getting worse! And I don’t trust doctors, because you know all they want is your money!

Me: Okay, what would you like me to read to you?

Patron: Anything. I don’t know anything about it except what my doctor said, about having to use this cream, which is making this awful smell come out of me and—

Me: SO! SO! So, you want me to read to you about the treatments they recommend? Is that what you’d like?

Patron: Yes, of course! I don’t want to have this swollen, painful, smelly vagina forever!

At this point I cringed and slapped my forehead and my coworker was looking at me with that look that asked if I was on the phone with Crazy Karen or Betty, and I shook my head and pointed at the computer screen, so she could see what this woman was making me read about.

I’m not sure if she saw the name of the condition, but the site I had up had a big, huge vagina looking back at us, and she turned and ran fast and far away from the reference desk.

That’s what I love most about working at this library: the emotional support from my coworkers.

Me: Okay, what it says is that there are a number of possible causes for this…condition.

No point in telling everyone in the building, right?

Me: And depending on what’s causing it, bacteria, fungus, whatever, is what determines how they treat you.

Patron: Well how am I supposed to know what’s making my vagina do this? That’s what they were supposed to figure out!

Me: You really need to talk to your doctor then.

Patron: No, they don’t want to help me. They’re not going to give me more information.

Me: Then maybe you should see another doctor.

Patron: I can’t! I don’t have any money! I go to that clinic, you know? The one where all the Mexicans mostly go.

Oh no she didn’t.

Patron: So I have to sit there in that room, with all the Mexicans, waiting to see a doctor who doesn’t care about making me better and just wants to take my money, and there’s no one else I can see. I don’t have a choice.

Me: Okay, okay, let’s do this again. THEY need to determine what the cause is so they can treat it, and maybe they did, but you didn’t realize it. I mean, it could be hormonal. It says here that it could be low estrogen, or it could be a—

Patron: It’s hormonal?


Patron: OH, well, then yeah, I’ll just take the estrogen pills they gave me, then. Okay. I should be okay then.

Me: They gave you hormone pills to treat it too?

Patron: Yeah, but I didn’t think it was connected so I wasn’t going to take them. You know how they are. They just want you on lots of drugs and to take your money.

Me: Okay, then was there anything else you needed to know?

Patron: No, I think we’re good. I’ll take the estrogen pills and my vagina will go back to smelling like normal again. This is great! That’s all I want. I want my vagina to stop hurting and stop oozing, and you’re saying the hormones will do that?

Me: Uh, well, it’s a possible treatment. I hope it works.

Patron: You have no idea what it’s like to have this gunk coming out of you! It smells so bad that—

Me: Ma’am! Is there anything else I can answer for you?

Patron: It smells like a fish died in there!

Me: Is that all, ma’am? I really have to go.

Patron: Honey, I hope you never get this!

Me: Thanks, me too.

Patron: You’ve been so much help and so nice. I don’t know who else I could call and tell all these things to.

I’m betting anyone. I’m betting she’s the type of person who would tell anyone.

Me: Well, thanks, that’s what I’m here for.

To have you paint me a big mental image of your swollen, oozing, putrid vagina. Yep. That’s my job.

Patron: Well, you have a good night, sweetie.

Me: Thanks, you too. Good luck.

Patron: Oh, you’re so sweet! Thanks again.

Yes, yes, quite sweet. Or I was. Before the infected vagina monster started stalking me in my daymares.


Megan@ Blueberry Scone said...

Oh my gosh, WOW! It's sad, for so many different reasons.

Edward said...

Welcome to my world (I run a sexual health library) wait until they ask you for a book on STIs and say "Now, I'll just see what I've got..."

You learn to block mental images :)

Romana1 said...

Oh, my...ummm...WOW. Good thing I decided not to eat my cereal bar before I read fact...I'm suddenly not hungry anymore... WOW!

Aww, no one should have to face that alone!

Leelu said...

Wow. That's worse than the deaf, old guy who came in a few weeks back looking for books on "venereal diseases" for his daughter.

After some loud, awkward conversations, turns out he wanted information on yeast infections.

Lummox said...

So.. um... What's a vagina? Is it in your ear? Cause I can see how having smelly, oozing stuff coming out of your ear could be annoying.

Kate P said...

Noooooo. . . I feel sooo horrible laughing at your story.

"Honey," I hope you never get one of those CALLERS again.

Rachel said...

Eeew... I praise God we don't get calls like that!! I love the fact that my library is in a school and most people don't know it's open to the public. That way, they can all go visit my mom's library downtown :D
Your coworkers should have supported you, though I can't blame them toooo much ^.^