In the pipeline

On the permanence of waiting at Kaiser

CHEAP EATS Bedazzled, bewildered, and bejuiced, I dream that I start an already started car, and instead of the grind of everyday catastrophe I get another level of startedness. An overdrive. An engine firing on more cylinders than it even has. This bodes well. For the first time in over three weeks, I wake up without a headache.

Still, I keep my appointment with my doctor. How could I not? I've been waiting to see her for 23 painful days. God bless Kaiser Permanente, it's the best I can do!

And I love my doctor. Ever since she recommended duct tape for my warts (which worked), she has held a special spot in my heart. Speaking of which, there's something else I want to talk to her about: my heart. Not in the ticker sense, but the other one. I'm in love, madly, and it is weirdly reciprocal and, even weirdlier ... well, my girlfriend is a girl, this time.

Sorry for the deception. It was necessary, on account of complications.

True, her name is Romeo, and she's boyishly beautiful and sooo oh oh oh, but the fact is the plumbing is female, and when we are together, which is becoming increasingly possible, sex is complex and constant, and the question of pregnancy does come into play.


Until now, I have only had sex with men since becoming a woman, so it didn't matter. When I first started on hormones, my endocrinologist told me I would be irreversibly sterile within six months. It's been four years. On the other hand, I come from a family of 11 with a history of post-vasectomy procreation, virgin births, etc.

So in addition to heads and hearts, we chatted — my primary care doctor and me — about genitals and such, and in the end she ordered me some labwork: the usual blood stuff, plus a semen analysis.

This is going to be fun, I thought.

Then, for good measure, she threw in an MRI. My eyes got wide.

"Well, every time you mention your headache you point to the same exact spot," she explained.

"An MRI would not only rule out a tumor, but also a leaking blood vessel, which could lead to an aneurism."

For the next three days I was in what would best be described as "a state." The headache was back, full force, and I needed constant acupuncture and/or massage therapy just to stop crying, let alone breathe. You know how it is ... when you meet the love of your life, then die.

So as soon as the results of the MRI came back clean and I got over my initial euphoria, I started thinking about semen. I'd watched my doctor put the order into her computer, but when I went to the Kaiser lab with my little empty cup and a plan, the order wasn't in the system. And the mean-ass bitch of a receptionist, whose name I would publish here if I could remember it, wouldn't even call my doctor and ask. She wrote down a number for me to call.

Which turned out to be the advice nurse. Who eventually was able to leave a message with my doctor. So for the next couple hours I had to keep getting in line to see the meanie again, until finally the order was in, but it wasn't for semen. It was something else.

So I had to call another advice nurse, and explain the situation again, and in case you didn't know, it's hard to be a woman with a semen sample, or trying to get one. Every person I talked to started out addressing me as ma'am, and ended up calling me sir. And the receptionist seemed to be enjoying making me talk to as many people as possible. I hate Kaiser. I hate my country.

I love my Romeo. After I gave up and was driving down to Berkeley, to work, she/he called again, from Germany. The other thing about being a woman with a semen sample is that it ain't easy to come by. Pun intended. Testosterone, in my experience, does it any time, any place. Estrogen ... unh-unh. Plan was to find a cozy bathroom stall, or broom closet, and have phone sex with Romeo, who had been looking forward to this all day.

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