Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let the Games Begin

Photograph by Hannah Reilly 2009

I love San Francisco. I would make up almost any excuse to hit the Bay Bridge and watch The City skyline loom into view. Restaurants, museums, architecture, miles of rolling hills and narrow streets, cable cars, crystal air, the Golden Gate. It’s all there. If you have to endure Frankenstinian medical procedures to experience this, really, so what?

Yesterday I played another round of, “What the Heck’s the Matter with YOU?” at UCSF. In this game contestants dress in bizarre outfits designed to reveal their rattiest underwear while simultaneously enduring pranks thought up by the producers of “Fear Factor.”

All I can say is it was dark in my bedroom at 5:00 a.m. as I rummaged through my dresser drawer. Don’t we all keep at least a few pair of underwear that really should be thrown away but we know, when the laundry piles up, we might need them? They aren’t really fit for being in an accident but they will cover your posterior well enough for sweatpants and yard work. Well, those are the ones I wore. Of course, there was no way to discover this until I stood in the torture chamber preparing for my first round of competition.

The torture chamber is purposely deceptive and distracting. It is splashed with brilliant sunlight and designed to put you off guard. The room is fairly small but elegantly decorated. One wall displays an open-aggregate column with an arch right out of a castle motif. This would distract you except for the opposite wall which is solid windows overlooking San Francisco, the Presidio, and a huge expanse of the bay. And all this from an 8th floor perspective. The day must also be perfectly clear to enhance the effect.

It was in this environment that I donned my costume: the flimsy gown we all know so well. The one Dave Barry describes as making you feel more naked than if you were naked. However, when your underwear has gone as far south as mine had, you actually long for nakedness. Too bad. My only hope was the thought that perhaps I could lie on my back for the entire procedure and use my half-gown to cover my front half. As the “doctor” walked in she smiled and told me to roll onto my side.

Now, I put “doctor” in quotes because she wasn’t a full-fledged doctor yet. She was still in her residency. This is important because they don’t really want someone highly skilled to perform these tests. It might make the procedure entirely too painless to be entertaining for them.

As I lay gazing into the distance at the Fallon Islands, imagining myself running free and unseen in brand new underwear, I heard her voice, thick with an East Indian accent, announce, “I’m going to administer a series of shocks.” What she meant was a “series of shocks” in much the way a police officer means it when he yells, “STOP!” just before he tasers you.

In this round they are checking you for nerve responses. If your nerves are somewhat damaged your only response might be to bounce up off the table, smash into the ceiling, and land back on the table. Or you may launch face-first into the window and contort your features. If your nerves are all completely intact it could be bad for them because these shocks will catapult you across the room, leaving you in a standing position, where you are then free to beat them about the face and head with their own equipment. Fortunately for them, mine were not at the top of their game. We repeated this step several thousand times with her shooting at me from every corner and jumping out from behind chairs. When she would find a particularly damaged and painful place, she would then proclaim, “I am going to do this nine times in the same spot.” Apparently, they don’t do it ten times because the smell of burning flesh is too unpleasant for the physician.

Next comes the bonus round. In this event, needles are shoved into the muscles of your legs and feet. Just when you think you might black out or lose control of your bladder, the almost-a-doctor tells you to contract your muscles by using them to push against something. You volunteer the back half of her brain via the front half, but she only offers her hand. Now, at this point, you get Charley Horses big and violent enough to compete in a rodeo. She will then leave the room and come back with a real doctor so he can participate, too. He will say things like, “Let’s pull this needle out and shove it in her eyeball” or maybe he just mentions repositioning it, but it will all sound the same to you. He pulls the needle out and jams it in somewhere else and when you don’t celebrate this by singing, “The Hills are Alive!” he will exhale dramatically, punctuated by his tongue flicking back and forth between his lips. They will continue to tag-team like this for another twenty minutes knowing they are safe since all their needles have effectively sewn your muscles together.

When they leave the room you and your ratty underwear are free to crawl over to your clothes and salivate on them. They will then return to tell you your test reveals more abnormalities but they have no idea why. At this point they will thank you for playing and invite you to return in six-months where they will introduce the newest event: “Toenail Removal for Fun and Profit.”

Your parting gift is the realization you may now head into the heart of The City to let it heal your wounds.

That’s what I did. The kids and I had already strolled the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park that morning. Now it was time to limp toward comfort food and fortify myself for cultural pursuits.

The price of admission for this scintillating soiree may have been dear but, hey, so is beautiful San Francisco. I'll be back and I'm bringing my toenails with me.

Copyright 2009


  1. "Oh Boy!" *I yell into the kitchen* "Mom! Mrs. Reilly strikes agian!!!" *Quickly Mom runs into the room followed by Connor.*

    Hahahahahahahahha!!!!!!!! We are laughing soooo hard. I am so sorry that you have to go through all this, but know that it is providing the McCracken family with a great deal of entertainment and sad cases of the reoccuring giggles.
    I love you Mrs. Reilly! Hang in there!
    Kaylee Bean

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hey McCrackens over there,

    Thanks for writing on my blog. In light of what's happening with Norman I'm glad if I provided a moment of levity amidst such an incredibly difficult time. I wondered if I should even write and then decided to proceed as a way of pushing back against the difficulty of this, and other, realities.

    I have to find what I can to laugh at in my own life and, if it makes someone else laugh, all the better. I hope it would make Norm laugh, too. He has always possessed that bright outlook and ready, hearty laugh that seemed to accentuate the levity in everything. He made you feel like life was to be embraced and celebrated all the time just by his persona. It's what I think about when I think of Norm.

  4. Oh my gosh!!! I am also laughing out loud! You are so funny and I too am sorry for your unsuccessful adventures, but they do provide great entertainment. Lots of love!

  5. Just to let you all know there was no mystery in the "Comment Deleted" post. I accidentally posted my comment (above) before I edited myself. I do that in life all the time with no recourse. I LOVE this format...replete with retractions beFORE press time.

  6. You are TOO funny!! Thanks for sharing it all, and I do mean all, with us. If there is a silver lining, you will find it!
    Love, Teresa

  7. O.K., not so anonymous I just can't remember my username and password! I know I wrote it in a really good place like the back of my checkbook? But can't find it. Love, Anonymous

  8. Oh Robynn! I'm still laughing!
    Funny how we can find humor in others 'trials'....
    but of course, you opened yourself up for this round of laughter! And thank you!!
    Why do you think our Mothers or Grandmothers or Great-Grandmothers instilled that belief of wearing our 'best undies' in case of emergency into our heads??
    I truly did NOT pass that one on to our daughter! It's bad enough I have to live with it!
    I must plead with you now, Robynn...when you bring your toenails back..don't post a picture! I'm tough, but not sure I'm that tough!

  9. You never fail to make me laugh. I'm so thankful for your humor and your willingness to share your trials with the medical establishment. And thanks to you, from now on, I'll double check to make sure I have on non-ratty undies before I go to my next doctor's appointment.

  10. Wow, did not know you went through this.... (yes I am a new reader) You need to update me on this.. Pretty harsh just to see San Francisco. You are MUCH stronger than me. (I was talking about the underwear)

    Mike (Carmon)

  11. Hey, it's strange, but my post isn't here on your blog either.
    *scratching my head*
    I know things have been acting up with my yahoo lately, but I didn't think google was affected.
    I'm just not made for this stuff.

    Anyway, I think you need to post a warning at the beginning of each blog, because I will never learn.
    I needed to clean my monitor yet again....
    I'm STILL roflmao!

  12. Oh, dear, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I can't believe you went through all that and they still don't have a clue what's wrong! You obviously have a good attitude and that will help you to persevere and triumph over this.

  13. I'm sorry that you had to go through all of that, but it sure made for good reading!!!

    I think that you probably had trouble with your blog over the weekend, because The Cutest Blog on the Block was "down" as they were working on their site. I had trouble with mine on and off, through out the weekend. It was bizarre. One minute all the text disappeared on one computer - then was there on another computer ( We have 4 in the house) - crazy. But, today, everything seems to be back to normal.

    Take care, and know that you are in my prayers.

  14. P.S. - Don't listen to anything that Tatersmama has to say...after all she's a nut ball:)(Hee hee, she knows I love her)

  15. First I laugh at your post, then I laugh at all the crazy comments. This is what makes blogging so much fun. I hope you get to find out what is wrong eventually. Surely they are not keeping you in the dark. Maybe it was the ratty underpants that did it. I better make sure I have good ones on Thursday when I go for my EKG, just in case I have to strip down to a gown. ewww.....

  16. It's the truth Neabear....I feel like each comment is a visit with a friend and they bring me so much. Thank you to all of you who comment and follow (yes, and even lurk! lol) More on that later thanks to TM and Libby!

  17. I left you something at my place today!

  18. Lordy Be! YOU are hilarious! Thanks for stoppin' in on me! I will most definitely be comin' back to check on you!

  19. Oh, and get ya some of those wedgie free panties!

  20. Sooooo funny - Randy's trying to get some work done in the office and I'm at my desk just snickering and distracting him! He'll be over here to read it in a few minutes! I think you should get a wide variety of fancy undies for these visits - hit Victoria's Secret - that'd be fun!! (you know what I'm thinking)......

  21. HAHAHA!!! You sure can tell a story. I'm always so torn... don't wanna wear ratty underwear, but don't want to wear super hot underwear either. (And come to think of it, I don't really have any in between, what's with that?) I think maybe I'll just go commando to my next Dr. appt. That'll take care of that. A few years ago I decided I WAS NOT going to have ratty underroos, so I threw them all out. It's the oddest thing, but they came back. And they look very similar to the nice undies I had a few years ago. Very strange. **scratches and shakes head***