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Some matters call for drastic measures. They require you to reach deep into your bag o’ tricks to find a resolution. For me, this is where being a kvetch, or a kvetcher, comes in handy.
For those not familiar, a kvetch is a complainer and kvetching is what a kvetch is always doing, although a kvetch can also kvetch, so it is both a noun and a verb. A kvetch also kvetches, which makes this even more confusing. Allow me to provide a quick lesson through some personal examples.
My father is always kvetching; he kvetches if his Diet Coke doesn’t come with a lemon wedge.
Don’t kvetch so much! I have something even worse to kvetch about.
Why is my grandmother such a kvetch? She’s the biggest kvetcher I know and doesn’t have a care in the world.
As the Yiddish spoken in America became Anglicized over the last century and the majority of American Yiddish-speakers of yesteryear have passed on, it’s all taken with a grain of kosher salt. Fancy Schmancy was not a phrase used in the old country, after all.
Nonetheless, the term kvetch is used in a derogatory sense and is generally reserved for those types who chronically complain about everything in a very drawn-out way. At the right time, however, I put on the kvetch hat and make the most of it. You must kvetch with an end goal in mind, or else you might as well be a plain old complainer. Kvetching is an art and one must know when and how to use this craft.
I had to pull out the kvetch hat quite recently in order to remedy a problem. Refer to my last post for the whole saga, but in short, my corneal specialist just left me hanging over a week ago with a diagnosis of central corneal opacity in one eye, a type of corneal scarring that can lead to blindness and is a rare complication of cross-linking (CXL), which I had done 6 months ago for my keratoconus. He told me I had to go back to L.A. to see my CXL surgeon, which isn’t possible, and that was that.
I have been self-treating my eye with 2 prescription drops I had on hand since the Friday I was diagnosed with the opacity and was awaiting a response from my CXL surgeon, which I got in due time via e-mail. He told me that it didn’t seem that serious—as opposed to my local doctor, the corneal specialist, who told me I could lose my vision in a few weeks. He mentioned that he would be happy to see me, regardless. That got me nowhere since traveling to L.A. was out of the picture. Who was I to believe? I had to save my eye, so it was time to start kvetching, but to whom? This is not a solo sport.
Well, I got a second chance due to my local doctor’s assistant not reminding him at my appointment—despite reminding her—that this was my 6 month follow up for the FDA clinical trial and I would need the appropriate paperwork filled out and various tests done. My doctor didn’t do anything required by the FDA, so I was rescheduled to see the optometrist who works with the surgical patients this past Friday. That was just what I needed. A chance to perform the art of kvetching in all its finery.
In the meantime, I called the clinic the Monday following my disastrous appointment and left word for my doctor that I had contacted and heard back from my CXL surgeon, wanted to be treated with an ocular steroid and antibiotic and have a follow up in 6 weeks, and to have him call me back in regards to this. No call. I called again on Thursday afternoon and asked why he had not called back. The rude receptionist who answered told me, “Your message was very lengthy and he did get the message.” Perhaps he could get e-mail like my very busy CXL surgeon? Regardless, her response told me nothing other than that I was still left hanging and he wasn’t going to treat me. I let her know that I couldn’t go to L.A., he was my treating physician, and that I expected a call back in a not-so-nice-tone to mimic hers. This was more of a stern kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.
I got a voicemail from my doctor Friday morning, which was the next day, saying I needed to make sure to come in for my appointment with the optometrist that day, as well as a voicemail from the rude receptionist reiterating what he said and that my doctor would see me at the appointment, also. Maybe the kvetching was paying off? I called her back and told her that I’ve never missed an appointment and asked why these messages were being left, just to kvetch some more for kvetching’s sake. This was really just to add extra emphasis and be a pain in the ass, or more accurately, a pain in the tuchus.
I am always running almost-on-time due to my mess of a body from Ehlers-Danlos that is like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, but I managed to print out the journal article written by my CXL surgeon with the case report and treatment protocol I was following for post-CXL central corneal opacity and also had a copy of his message from the e-mail in hand for the appointment. All bases covered. One must do this to be an effective kvetcher—kvetch in an informed manner and keep your eye on the goal.
I had been in a pissed off mood for a week due to this ordeal, so when the cheery front desk girl asked how I was doing when I checked-in, I didn’t give a nice response. Why lie? It was more of a kvetchy, I’d-be-better-if-my-doctor-gave-a-crap response, but she continued to act in an odd, overly nice way that I don’t normally see there. I took a mental note of that.
Luckily, one of the better techs called me back for the various tests I had to do and I started kvetching to him about my treatment there—or lack thereof—since he sees me often and is aware I am never like this at the clinic. I even told him, while he was making notes in my chart, that I was on the two new drops in one eye and was treating myself due to my doctor not willing to do so. Oy vey. Would he warn my doctor that a kvetch was in the clinic? I was betting on it.
The tech and I went into a little room to do the corneal topography and I felt someone rubbing my back. What the heck? I turned around and it was the front desk woman I normally deal with and know fairly well, so something was definitely going on. She had the sorry-you’re-dealing-with-this look, which wasn’t necessary, but gave me some reassurance that a resolution might be coming. How did she know?
Had the rude receptionist spread the word that I was a hugely dissatisfied, kvetching patient who could possibly be a yenta—a gossipy woman—and ruin my doctor’s reputation in this big-small-town in the Southwest? Did the 99.5% Latino, but primarily Latina, support staff have a hidden knowledge of Yiddish and its deeper meaning? Had they been throwing these words around all week in between English, Spanish, and Spanglish?
“Esa mujer que always está kvetching. Oy, I’m gonna go loca.”
All the better for me. Relax, I speak Spanish, was an expat in México, and love that America is a melting pot of cultures. Thanks to the Spanyidglish, the kvetching was definitely paying off.
From there, I was led to another room and told to wait for the optometrist. I planned on kvetching to him about the predicament I was in and asking for his advice while throwing my hands up in the air, rather than just shoving it down his throat. Again, there is an art to this all.
However, just as I sat down, my corneal specialist came in. I wasn’t expecting him yet, so I quickly prepared myself. I noticed he was more humble than usual and had a nicer demeanor, as his mood is unpredictable. Had he prepared himself, as well? I believe the yentas in the office had warned him about me, as well as the tech. I did kvetch about my predicament to an extent, but I was armed with the medical journal article and the e-mail message, all from my CXL surgeon. Perhaps this would finally be resolved. One must know precisely when to take the kvetch hat off, of course.
The optometrist quickly came in and now both doctors were tackling the opacity issue together and taking turns peering into my eye and talking in hushed tones. The optometrist could see the opacity but thought it wasn’t that worrisome for now. My specialist actually read the case report in the article I had presented and then agreed that the ocular steroid I was using was the best approach and said that he wanted to see me again in 6 weeks to recheck my eye. Was that not what I had asked for in the lengthy message? He even kept the journal article—fancy that! He reiterated that it would be best to go to L.A. as my surgeon has been doing CXL since the U.S. trials began, but my doctor is doing them now, so what will he do when this happens to one of his own CXL patients?
Who cares at this point? The kvetchy wheel got the grease again and that, my friends, is the whole megillah. What a never-ending story it is—similar to reading a long post written in three languages.