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Allergy Sufferers Unite with The Big, Ugly Cry

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It’s that time of year that I dread: allergy season.

Actually, the ironic thing about fall and spring (when my allergies are at their worst) is they are my favorite seasons. But since I moved to Colorado, I am lambasted twice a year with miserable allergies which almost always lead to a sinus infection. I went to an allergist a few years ago who ascertained I’m allergic to pretty much every grass and weed in Colorado.

As an outdoor lover, this is not a badge I wear proudly.

I’ve done allergy shots but had to stop when our insurance changed and since that time I’ve found very little reprieve. A few years ago, I hit my limit when my daughter was sent home from preschool with pink eye. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and made an appointment with my general practitioner. Now, let me preface this by disclosing I was in my second month of these mind-numbing allergies. I hadn’t slept in weeks and I was on my third sinus infection.

I arrived early to fill out Haddie’s paperwork and was told upfront by the snippy front desk that they had only booked one of us for an appointment. And the doctor would only see both of us if he had time.

Enter: Nurse Betty. When she came to take Haddie’s vitals, she rudely informed me he would only see Haddie, even though the error was on their part for screwing up the booking. The prospect of living with this misery even one more day was almost more than I could handle. An argument ensued. There was blood. And not the kind triggered by a needle.

When the doctor arrived, I was a snotty, bloody mess. Before he could even open his mouth, I blabbered on about the whole confrontation. If that was not bad enough, next came the very lowest of lows: The Big, Ugly Cry. In front of a man.

Of course, I was horrified but the more I thought of it, the more I spewed big, ugly tears. The same tears that baby Haddie cried when she first watched that demonic purple dinosaur Barney and he started singing, “I love you, you love me” –marking the end of his evil reign.

The doctor consoled me, all the while undoubtedly wondering just how soon I could be admitted into the psych ward. Before long, the office manager came in. You know: that person who only appears to deal with those patients. And then the perkiest, funniest Physician’s Assistant imaginable. It was evident they were bending over backwards to appease me. And so I did what any humiliated, snot-infested woman would do:

I took advantage of them.

Well, more like their medications. In addition to walking outta there with a referral for an allergist, I also casually mentioned a cough that I may-or-may not have had at that juncture but that I knew I would have at the conclusion of my latest sinus infection. My husband Jamie claims I am a cough-syrup addict but anyone who has ever had bronchitis or a serious cough knows that nothing except for the good stuff even comes close to knocking you out. That stuff only the doctor can prescribe.

Or a Physician’s Assistant trying to appease an irate, sleep-deprived, snot-infested woman.

I’ll take it. And you’d better believe I did.

This article was originally published in 2008 and has since been updated.

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  • comment avatar Loralee June 20, 2008

    I LOATHE cough syrup. LOATHE it.

    And, yes. I have had a COMPLETE breakdown in the hospital. It may have come after a being trampled by a horse and the doctor telling me that they couldn’t give me any more morphine.

    He meant that it couldn’t be done SAFELY, but I took it to mean that they thought I was faking my injuries and started shrieking and snotting that I wasn’t a drug-seeking patient!!

    There were snot bubbles involved. It so wasn’t pretty.


  • comment avatar Yvie June 20, 2008

    Hi, I hope you get well soon. Being sick sucks. I am getting more and more educated about this Salmonella thing. Good thing you don’t have that, sounds scary.

    Now this reminds me of my lovely tomato-like thingies in the garden. So nice to look at, but then you’re not so sure.

  • comment avatar Jdude June 20, 2008

    Oh honey – you are talking to the queen of cry. yes, It is I despite your attempts to come close. And nothing makes a man more uncomfortable than a crying woman that is not his own which has led me to confirm in my own mind that one should never underestimate the power of a good ugly cry.

    And I have cried to some pretty strange people.

    My goodness, I may just have to blog about this.

    But I may have to conceede my queenly prowless because I have never bled. That’s a good one.

  • comment avatar Paige June 20, 2008

    Only in labor, when the nurse grabbed my face, and told me to stop freaking out.

    I am so sorry you missed your big backpacking trip, and I hope you get feeling better really really soon. You didn’t mention what the diagnosis this time is. Do you have an infection or some kind, or is it food poisoning?

  • comment avatar Mel @ A Box of Chocolates June 20, 2008

    I would rather die than take cough medicine and I am NOT exaggerating! Can’t say that I have done the big cry, but I think in your case I would most definitley had. I hope you are feeling better!

  • comment avatar Dita June 20, 2008

    I’ve had a breakdown at the dentists’ office. It didn’t go so well. I do believe that was the day he “accidentally” clipped my tongue.

  • comment avatar motherofbun June 20, 2008

    I probably have done the big ugly cry in front of some stranger before… Am to dopey from not sleeping because of a sinus infection to remember. (I feel you on that stuff. SUCKY!)

    I hope you start feeling better soon. What you’ve got sounds utterly horrid.

  • comment avatar Kagey June 20, 2008

    I defaulted to the big cry when my first born was 8 months old, had a high fever that Tylenol wasn’t conquering and a phlegmy cough, and we were out of town visiting relatives.
    A friend of the family recommended her pediatrician, I looked her up online and discovered that she did, indeed, take our insurance, and we called ahead. They said, come on in, we’ll see if we can fit you in.
    We arrived, and when the Front Desk realized we were new patients who would never be ongoing patients, they balked, and told us we would have to go to a different place: a clinic of some sort.
    We left, found the clinic which was overcrowded, dirty, and wouldn’t take our insurance anyway. It was a cash-only sort of place.
    We drove back to the pediatrician’s office and I went in alone. I pleaded with the front desk, told them I didn’t understand why they were refusing us treatment when they took our insurance, our child needed to be treated, we were in a fix out of town, and I would be telling our family friend how rottenly we’d been treated.
    I cried, told them how worried I was as a first-time mom, told them how I’d ended up with pneumonia as an infant because a medic ignored my 104 deg. fever (true story).
    I’m not proud of what I did, but I would do it again in the same situation. My son ended up needing nebulizer treatments and a prescription for antibiotics. He had bronchitis, which could have developed into pneumonia. (My hd wanted to storm in there angrily, which I doubt would have gotten us treatment. Sorry to say, but tears work better than angry indignation in that situation.)
    I sometimes wonder if doctors know how many patients they lose due to bad front desk handling?

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 20, 2008

    Ohhhhhh, these are tooooooo great. Keep ’em coming!

  • comment avatar Lauren June 20, 2008

    You are not alone! I got into a fight with a snarky receptionist at the pediatrician’s office and TOTALLY tattled on her to the doctor. When I get really mad I start to cry and then I get madder at myself for crying.

  • comment avatar Kimberly June 20, 2008

    Oh my yes…been there, done that…um, honestly? Multiple times. I’m cool like that. =P

    Feel better!

  • comment avatar Lauri June 20, 2008

    Been there, done that…last month actually. Not a high point for sure. SO humiliating!
    I hope you feel better soon! I had something like that after Grace was born and was hospitalized for a few days. Pure misery! Take care..

  • comment avatar Shannon June 20, 2008

    You know, I have had some major heart to hearts with doctors…Nearing tears (sincere tears like yours) seemed to do the trick when I really had researched and done my homework on my health and needed my PCP to just listen and hear why I wanted to follow a certain treatment path. He listened, and I am so thankful and appreciative for that.

  • comment avatar FFG June 20, 2008

    I’m thinking it must be the fear of teenagers…that would drive anyone to drinking (cough medicine).

  • comment avatar Cathy June 20, 2008

    I almost cried yesterday at the Boulder Billabong store because the manager wouldn’t take back pants I got over the weekend up in Aspen. I had the receipt but the pants didn’t have the tag, which I can’t remember if I took off or not. It was a total waste of time.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 20, 2008

    Ladies, these stories are most assuredly worth our tears in gold. And Cathy, I am sooooooooo sorry for your loss. Re: the pants, of course!!!

  • comment avatar yvonne June 20, 2008

    I’m so sorry you are so incredibly sick. That is not fun.

    I remember the story of the visit to the doctor’s office–but I loved reading it again.

    I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t done the big ugly cry–AT LEAST ONCE!!!

  • comment avatar Heidi June 20, 2008

    Amber, I hope you feel better soon! That does not sound good.

    I’ve almost cried in a doctor’s office, too, but it would take a lot of commenting space to detail just how idiotic the person was and just how pathetic I was. I don’t want to subject you to that in your current state. I think it would possibly make your salmonella poisoning worse.

    Instead I’m sending you lots of get well soon vibes!


  • comment avatar Damselfly June 20, 2008

    Eh, salmonella, teenagers, same difference! 😉

  • comment avatar Kassie June 20, 2008

    I’ve yet to break down and cry in front of a stranger… but you never know what could happen tomorrow.

  • comment avatar snoflake22 June 20, 2008

    not at the doctor’s office, but at the airport – twice!!!

  • comment avatar PJ June 21, 2008

    What a visit! At least you scored your cough syrup:)

    I did breakdown and cry at a doctor visit. When I was 6 months pregnant (with my first baby) and the doctor mentioned that we might discuss ways to “not gain so much weight”. He handed me a box of tissues and NEVER brought it up again.

    Hope you are feeling better!!

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine June 21, 2008

    um… i’m sorry to tell you this amber, but you may be alone in that situation. but i can understand why it happened. you were at the breaking point… and you broke!

    what i want to know is what caused the blood? did someone punch someone else?

    and i hope you’re feeling better or that you do soon. how many tomatoes did you eat?

  • comment avatar Beth - total mom haircut June 21, 2008

    Ugh, I can’t believe you have this illness. I so hope you are well soon.

    And as for your story – yeah you take it! They messed up! I have cried in front of doctors two times, and both times they referred me to a psychotherapist.


  • comment avatar A mom in the burbs June 21, 2008

    oh, I have done my share of public crying! Nothing like that awkward moment when the person realizes you are actually CRYING over whatever it is.

    I was flying out to see my whole family who had gathered for my Dad’s retirement party. They had overbooked the flight. We were waiting in line to see who the last lucky people were going to be on the plane. This lady was jockeying for position and somehow got herself in front of me. Well, guess who got the last seat? I wanted to hurt somebody bad. I had sort-of let her in, after some about-to-get rude jockeying. I REALLY wanted to hurt her when she had the GALL to turn around and wave to me as she got on the plane. Grrrr….

    Anyway, ended up bawling my eyes out to the somewhat bored ticked agent, sniffling, decrying the injustice of it all.

    And, sadly, I am NOT one of those women who is a pretty crier. My face turns beet red and I am a big, ugly mess.

    I hope you feel better, Amber!

  • comment avatar Stephanie June 22, 2008

    Ohhh. I’m sorry you missed your backpacking trip to hold council with the toilet. That truly stinks!

    I too have cried loudly and embarrassingly in front of a stranger. I was on my way home from Washington and the screeners missed that they were supposed to give me extra screening (you know the kind where they empty your bags and feel you up?). The gate agent sent me all the way back to the screeners where I had to wait in line and then be frisked. I rushed back to the gate only to see the door closing and the smiling ticket agent informing me that I was too late and the next flight left tomorrow morning and–didn’t I have any friends in Washington I could stay with? I had to do the snotty whimpering angry loud cry to four different people and one on the phone before they put me up in a hotel that night.

  • comment avatar T June 23, 2008

    I had an ear infection when I was about 7 months pregnant with twins, so I couldn’t take anything stronger than Tylenol. I hadn’t slept for days when I finally made an appointment and had my sister drive me to a doctor’s office. I can’t remember what set it off, but I do remember going into the bathroom before the doctor even came into the room and sobbing my heart out. My sister told me later that she and everyone else in the waiting room could hear me. Ouch.

  • comment avatar mo June 24, 2008

    Mine was a few years ago at the post office. While applying for my passport, I discovered for the first time in 19 years that my SSN had been mixed up with my sister’s. This does not make it easy to obtain a passport. After about 6 weeks of frustrating phone calls and standing in lines and trips around town to straighten it out, I found myself once again standing in the post office for another go at the old passport. The office was due to close in only a few short minutes, and I was in line behind a woman with about 2 shopping carts full of packages to mail. My eyes darted from the clock, to the packages, to the elderly postal worker that seemed to be moving in literal slow motion as he scanned each package. I had already reached the deadline of when I could order my passport and be guaranteed to have it in time for my upcoming mission trip. So when the manager came out and told us all that the post office would now be closing and to come back the following day, The Cry came. And oh how it came. It was big, and it was ugly. Complete with snot and tears and 2-year-old tantrum flailing. I’ve never seen such shock and discomfort in the eyes of a stranger.

    In the end it didn’t work… They still sent me away. But I went in the next day, things went smoothly, and my passport arrived on time. Thus, I am now able to relive the story without The Cry taking hold all over again.

  • comment avatar liz March 28, 2011

    I cry at every doctor’s appointment. So embarrassing. And I get the huge sinus infection every fall & spring too. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  • comment avatar Lori March 31, 2011

    My son started with allergies in 4th grade and each year it seems to get worse. He’s tried over the counter stuff like Benadryl and Claritin, but it’s not working great so we need to go to the doctor and like you say, get the good stuff. Hope you’re feeling better by now. It’s just no fun being sick! 🙂