It’s Not Just for Rooftops

Is anyone else the opposite of a hypochondriac? Like, ignoring stuff that bothers you and plodding through illnesses, just pushing yourself that much harder, and only missing work if you have a severed appendage? One that you can’t simply tourniquet and continue on your way, I mean? Yeah, me too. Listening to whiners complaining about nothing ailments is about my least-favourite thing in the whole world.

We get to go to the doctor as often as we want in Canada, but I never do because unless I think I might possibly die, I don’t work it into my schedule. Another of my pet peeves is people who always go on about how busy they are – we ALL are, we’re GROWNUPS, it’s part of the deal. You’re not more important by virtue of being busy. Actually, you are that much more boring to me when you go on about what a busy, important person you are. Still, I’ll never complain about being busy, I’d way rather have 8 billion things to do than nothing to do, but free time is at a premium on my calendar and my doctor’s lucky if he sees me once a year. “Lucky” is used loosely.

The reason for my recent trip to the doctor’s was two-fold. One was pure vanity: I had this really nasty ugly eczema on my shins (it’s true, world-wide web – and I don’t care who knows it) and with summer coming up (oh yeah: memo to Mother Nature – get on that), I wanted something to fix it up. Most of my summer wardrobe consists of dresses and skirts and I didn’t want the world to see my ugly shins. Since they’ve been covered up since like October, I’d been dealing with it since then.

Another reason was this really big like, um, new elbow or something growing out the side of my neck. The likes of which could be seen from outer-space. One day it was just THERE, and it wasn’t going away. I looked it up, they said it was a swollen lymph node, and was most likely in response to fighting an infection, no biggie. Or, you know, cancer.

There are 2 things get me to the doctor: growing a human person in my body, and the C word.

I mean, I didn’t go right away. I waited. Thought the stupid knob thing was sure to go away. Except it didn’t. And then my boss was out of town, so I made the time to finally go.

Here’s how it went:

“So Veronica, why are you here today?”

“Just came to get some stuff for a few things. I’ve got this stuff on my shins, see, it’s a bit of a pain and pretty ugly so I need a cream.”

“Hmmm. OK. Anything else?”

“Well, you know, not really, I mean I’ve got all these little bumps at the top of my spine, they’re kind of itchy, I’m pretty sure a bug or a spider got down there or something but maybe that same cream will do the trick. And…I’ve got this little bump on my neck (displays enormous neck-elbow), which is probably just nothing, and now that I think of it might be there in reaction to my spider bites. Wait, do you think the spider laid eggs in my neck or something? Because, now that I think of it, that probably makes sense.”


“Veronica, did you actually find a spider or a bug down your back?”

“Well no, but that’s what it has to be, I mean, I was outside when I felt all this sort of stinging and itching and it kind of burned even, and it was weird, the sensation went all down my spine. But then it went away. But the bumps are still there.”

“Did you go to a doctor to get it looked at?”

“For a bug bite? Come on. No.”

“Have you had a lot of headaches?”

“Well, yeah.” (Doesn’t everybody? Where did you get your degree? Write me my scrips…time’s a wastin’!)

“Have you experienced any shooting pains in your shoulders and neck?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Numbness in your fingertips?”

“Yes! Ha. That’s funny that you would know that. I just rub my fingers together and it goes away after a while.”

He ran down a laundry list of other questions, all of which I answered in the affirmative, and may I say, served to renew my faith in his doctor know-how. Not only did he ask the right questions, the answer to all his questions was “well, yeah.”

Then he said, “Veronica. Have you been under any stress?”

Wait, what? Okay, not expecting that one. Have I been under any stress? Hmmm. I mean, I don’t think so. I kind of never think about it. When you’re a single mom who works full-time, you don’t allow yourself to think about it, I mean. You’ve got your kids, who even though they’re getting bigger now, still need you for everything. You’ve got your boss, who needs you all day. You’ve got tons of obligations, which you’d better take very seriously because you’re setting an example for your little people, who basically look to you to see what being a grown-up’s all about. I get up every morning, an hour before my kids do, and get myself ready for my day, then I get my kids up, and while they’re rousing, get their lunches ready, get their clothes out for them, make their breakfasts, put their little toothpaste blobs on their little toothbrushes for them, make sure they eat, make sure they brush their teeth, make sure they get dressed, drive them to school, make sure to take advantage of the 20-minute drive to discuss social issues, gay marriage and bigotry is our latest favourite, then backtrack and drive the 40 minutes to the office, work all day then drive back home to pick up my kids, make their dinner, make sure they’ve done their homework, clean up from dinner, do laundry, clean up the kitchen, take out the garbage, have the nightly “take your showers because you smell like jungle people!” argument, even though I’m not sure what jungle people smell like but it’s usually what gets them to rinse off, get them to bed, and try to get a good night’s sleep before doing it all again the next day, all the while preparing for going in and out of family court on stupid, time-wasting, no-brainer issues, and all the while being reminded by one person what a useless excuse for a mother I am, because I’m not a ‘real’ mom since I’m not a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve got it so easy and good, which is funny that I always stop to consider that feedback and never tend to listen to 99% of the other feedback which applauds the job I am doing, and crazily struggling to meet deadlines, be everywhere I need to be when I have to be, and being pulled in so many directions that they’ve now invented new directions, and to top it all off, now that I think of it, I’ve got this new appendage growing out of my neck, which, let’s face it, is the reason I’m REALLY here, because that, if you give me some scary news, is gonna add a whole new wrinkle to all of this, because if it IS something scary, I’ve got a whole new set of stuff I have to think about, like, what’s going to happen to my little people if they lose their Mommy? What’s going to happen to my little people if they lose their Mommy? Have I been under any stress? HAVE I BEEN UNDER ANY STRESS?


“Veronica, you have to admit to yourself that you have stress.”

“I’d rather not.”

“You must.”

“No, thank you.”

“Veronica. You have Shingles.”

SHINGLES? What? It sounds like something out of Little House on the Prairie. Something that Doc Baker fixes (oh yeah – I went there) with a concoction in a foot-long needle. Isn’t shingles some old-fashioned thing? This hardly sounds appropriate.

“And I think you’ve had it for a long time.”

He went on to explain to me where it comes from (have I had Chicken Pox? Well, yeah) and how it’s treated. He went on to tell me that in people my age, it’s brought on by bouts of stress, and he told me how to manage my stress. Stuff like going on long walks by myself (no time), allowing myself to sort out my thoughts (sort out my thoughts?! Denial is way super better), going on a vacation (sorry, did we already discuss the lack of time? Keep up!), etc.

The main thing I cared about with this antiquated virus I got was that it wasn’t contagious, as I tend to be super huggy and kissy with my favourite people, and he said no, just that I shouldn’t rub up on immuno-suppressed people, which I don’t think I have lately, even though I AM super affectionate.

I listened to his advice, which was really good, but again, can’t follow it. He wrote me my prescriptions and sent me on my way.

Shingles. THIS, I can live with. He told me to come back if my neck-knee didn’t go down, but it already has. AND my shins look fabulous now. So I’ll see you again in about a year, doc. I mean, unless you want to talk about stress, because I don’t want to, see. And also, just knowing this stupid shingles thing is going to go away goes a LONG way in making everything else seem like a walk in the park. EVERYONE should be told they have shingles.

Shingles looks like a weird word now, which it IS. But it’s been about my happiest moment of this year, being told I have it. Them. Whatever.



  1. Hi Veronica,

    Thanks for making me laugh! (Have I been under any stress? HAVE I BEEN UNDER ANY STRESS? “Nope.” Classic)

    Hope you feel better, I know someone who got shingles later in life and it was no picnic, but she was perfectly fine after it. What did your kids say to it?

    I admire you greatly for going through your day and doing ALL those things and you still manage to be cheerful and upbeat and witty. I hope you do like, take a massage once in a while, or do something to de-stress.

    Wishing you all the best!


    • Hi Mandy, thanks so much! The kids were very apologetic, saying “sorry about the shingles, Mommy.” And they too think it’s such a weird name!

      I think that it’s pretty painful in older people, for me it’s been just uncomfortable, so I count myself lucky!

      I’m going to take the massage advice 🙂

      Thanks for your feedback! All the best to you!


  2. ONE day, when you have time, you should write a book 🙂 Or memoirs!

    But in the meantime, in terms of stress relief, I suggest reading The Book of Awesome, or The Book of (Even More) Awesome! Lately I’ve had a lot of work-place stress, and been given nonsensical reasons to believe I may be fired at any moment.

    Then I remembered my ex buying The Book of Awesome, and how after reading half of it, I was smiling for about 3 days straight. So I picked up one of them, the newer one, and haven’t stopped smiling! The best part is, it’s not a chapter book, so you can pick it up, read 2 pages in 2 minutes, and have Two reasons to smile!

    It also cheered me up after a potential $1200 sale of suits to a wedding party went from taking their credit cards out, to deciding not to buy suits from us in a 5-second span this morning 😛

    Keep smiling, Veronica. I can only hope that I become half the parent you are.


  3. You are SO good! Your writing is conversational witty and engaging, keep it up! Maybe more writing will help you de-stress.


  4. Stress can do funny things to people, glad to see you keep pushing on through.


  5. Stress does weird things – That is one less thing to be stressed about – Get well – and remember you are fabulous.


  6. Enjoyed your entire blog “again”

    Thanks for sharing cp


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