An Office Party Pain in the Neck, and I Don’t Mean ‘Fred’

Now Playing: Just Breathe, by Pearl Jam. “Did I say that I need you?  Did I say that I want you? Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see, No one knows this more than me.”

This one’s about office Christmas parties. Well, kinda. In an Arthur sort of way.

No, there won’t be a long recounting of Christmas parties past. That’s because I don’t exactly remember the best ones, if you know what I mean.

What brings all this to mind is a gathering yesterday of my former colleagues at Business North Carolina. I’d planned to go. (If you don’t know, I’ll say it again. I’ve never had any hard feelings about the business decision to lay me off. Plus, David and Ben Kinney have thrown me many lifelines in the past year, and I appreciate them and respect everything they’ve done to help.)

Anyway, it turns out that the gathering at a restaurant in Charlotte was a pain in the neck. No, nobody was mean to me there. Even my former colleague, “Fred,” not his real name, whom I’ve written about before. In previous mentions of “Fred,” I’ve described his aversion to quotes and offered my version of how he’d edit my favorite writer, Raymond Chandler, and the bad karma he brought my neighborhood when he moved into it.

I didn’t make it to the gathering. That’s where the pain in the neck comes in.

It started Friday. I could feel a little bump on the back of my neck. Probably an embedded hair, I figured. I get ’em sometimes, particularly after haircuts. And while I hadn’t had a haircut recently, I didn’t think anything of it. Even when it got worse throughout the day.

By Saturday morning, it was ugly and painful, but I still wasn’t too concerned. Until it kept getting worse. Monday morning, when I could call my doctor’s office again, it was better, so I figured it was just an annoyance.

I was wrong. It was terrible Tuesday, swollen to at least half golf-ball size, and ultra painful. Problem was, I had a business trip scheduled that I had to make. So I did. And when I got back home Tuesday night, I could barely hold my head up, the pain was so bad.

So I called my doctor’s practice Wednesday. My doc was gone, but Dr. Dichoso-Wood was there, and I like her. Too much, Karen might say. Anyway, she could see me at 3. She was horrified by The Thing on my neck – I think there was an “Ewwwwww!” in there – and said she was referring me to surgeons in Monroe. She got me in immediately. Which says something again about how bad it was.

When I got there, Dr. Johnson called my neck growth an abcess and said he’d drain it. By that, I mean he made an 1.5 inch long, 1.5 inch deep incision. It didn’t hurt then – he’d numbed it pretty well, but he warned that it would, so he gave me scripts for antibiotics. But first I had to drop off a culture at the hospital lab. Where they had to see my insurance card, etc., all over again.

Anyway, by the time I got out of there, the numbness had all but worn off. It was about 5:30, the same time the guys from the office were getting together in Charlotte. And I was hurting, and still hadn’t filled my prescriptions yet. So I had to stop at Target, bloody gauze poking out from the bandage on my neck. It wasn’t as cool as having an eyepatch, but its darn close. Once I got home, I popped a couple of Vicodins and settled down for a night of barely consciousness.

So I’d missed the party, which I regretted. All because of a pain in the neck.

I’m much better today, and I haven’t taken a Vicodin since 10 o’clock last night.

It was probably the first time that ‘Fred’ didn’t have something to do with a pain in the neck related to the office. (Seriously, I wish ‘Fred’ and his wife, ‘Kimberley,’ not her real name, a wonderful Christmas with their new baby. And I appreciate ‘Fred’s sense of humor. Since he is, as I’ve mentioned, twice as big as I am – but not in girth.)

In fact, if I don’t write again before Saturday, and I doubt that I will, Happy Holidays to all.


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