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Just Nosing Around

By Fay Jacobs


Fay Jacobs

Let me say a word about health insurance. Auuggghhh!

One recent Friday I called several insurance agencies to get quotes. I'm in the rotten position of requiring a policy for a group of one. Any schmuck at a big company can get coverage for his whole family and Shitzu for less than I pay.

I spent most of the day filling out questionnaires asking "Have you ever been to a doctor?" Then I had to check a box if I've ever had flatulence, hiccups, or a sty. The paperwork warned of loss of insurance or death, whichever comes first, if you forget so much as a 1978 nose bleed. For the record I do not have diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure (although I don't know why), cancer or heart disease. However, I did have a stress test last year for what turned out to be world class gas.

In this age of HIPPA—a government edict requiring medical personnel to swear on a stack of invoices they will never ever tell anybody anything about your health—I found it ironic that I was outsourcing my entire medical history by faxing it to a call center in Bangladesh.

Fay Falls Flat
The following Sunday morning I attended a brunch with our Dead Pool Society—a group which honors departed celebrities. We select names of elderly luminaries, ante up ten bucks for the pool and if "your" celebrity kicks the bucket you get the money—but you must also throw a party to usher out the dearly departed.

It sounds ghoulish, but it's a nice tradition. Of course, it only makes sense to people over 50 because young 'uns would never have heard of these dead people anyway.

So on this particular Sunday we were sending off that mother who knew least, Jane Wyatt. And she tried to take me with her. First let me say, I did not even have a cocktail at the party. Honest. There are witnesses.

But as several of us left the house (I will not identify where, as I hold our charming hosts harmless), I had a wee accident and fell flat on my face.

Based on Bonnie's forensic analysis (learned by watching C.S.I.) the trace evidence of mud on one of my shoes and not on the other, told the tale.

As I walked toward the driveway I put my left foot on the front of a flagstone slab. The square stone flipped up in the back, catching my right foot (hence mud on that shoe from under the slab) and sent me flying, face first onto the blacktop driveway where I landed with a gigantic thud. And I landed, with my full and considerable weight, entirely on my nose. A lot of things crossed my mind. While I didn't seem to be dead, I wished I were, because a platoon of my friends had just witnessed this maneuver.

Finally, as blood started trickling down the driveway, Bonnie crouched down at my head repeating, "Are you okay," in varying states of panic. I mumbled, directly into the pavement, "Broken nose."

Will She Write About It?
By this time, somebody summoned a Dead Pooler who, when she was not waving farewell to deceased movie stars, was a nurse. She took charge, gently determining that the rest of me seemed unbroken and all that suffered was my nose. Unless, of course you count injured pride.

Somebody passed me a towel and some ice, as I heard somebody whisper, "Let's see if she writes about this."

I was helped to my feet, shuffled into my buddy Larry's car and transported home, where Bonnie plopped me in a chair while she, Larry and a painter who happened to be at the house edging the guest room, stared at me in horror. They agreed that the cut on the bridge of my nose might need a stitch or two after all, when the painter started shaking his head and announcing "that looks baaad." Thanks.

A five hour emergency room wait was no way to spend Sunday afternoon, so, with a bag of ice held firmly to my ballooning schnozz, we set off for the Route One "Doc in a Box" emergency clinic (even knowing I'd have to pay through the nose, ha-ha). It's the clinic with the 12 foot sign out front advertising "Open Seven Days a Week." It was closed. Is this a great town or what?

So we went home, where my ice bag and I flopped onto the sofa and, like Scarlett O'Hara, decided to worry about it tomorrow.

The Morning After
By morning at the battered woman's shelter, every bone in my body ached, both wrists and knees were solidly black and blue, and my face looked like I'd gone ten rounds with George Foreman. I had black eyes, swollen lids, and large puffy bags under those swollen eyes, plus a nose that rivaled Jimmy Durante (ah, a name only us Dead Poolers may remember). I looked like a victim of spousal abuse.

By mid-afternoon I had seen the doctor and he sent me for x-rays, also for which I will probably pay through the nose. Now here's where we tip over into farce. At the radiology center, a nice woman carefully positioned my face on the machine and took pictures of my lumpy nose from every angle possible—and at this point my nose had a lot of angles.

Very quickly she checked the film and determined I could leave.

"So, is it broken?" I asked.

"You know I'm not allowed to tell you."

"Listen, I just faxed my medical history to Asia. The entire secretarial pool at Bangladeshy Insurance knows when I had my last colonoscopy and you can't tell me if my nose is broken?"


My Friendly Insurance Caller
Back at my car, my cell phone rings. It's an underwriter from one of the insurance companies I had auditioned for, following up. "Why do you take cholesterol medicine?" she asked, sticking her nose where it didn't belong.

"Because I don't want my arteries to congeal."

"Why did you have a stress test in 2005?" she continued, nosing around in my business.


As I'm answering, nose bandaged and raccoon-eyed, I recall my obligation to be forthright with the almighty insurance pooh-bahs and keep my nose clean.

"I have to tell you," I interrupted. "I've just had my nose x-rayed and it might be broken."

"Is this something that will require surgery?" the underwriter asked in a morbidly curious tone.

"I have no idea," I said, "but whatever happens it will be before January first and not on your company's watch." She seemed satisfied by my honesty.

Bruised, Broken, and Maybe Bent?
By the time I got home, Bonnie was in the kitchen with an ice bag on her hand. She'd smashed it moving furniture. Great. Between her swollen hand and my bruised face, the spousal abuse story had legs.

As it turns out, my nose is broken and I have a deviated septum. I've been called a deviate before, so I wasn't shocked. I find out shortly whether surgical intervention is required. Hell, if they fix my nose maybe they can do my eyes at the same time.

For the moment, the black and blue is yellowing, my cut and scraped beak is healing and the only thing permanently bruised is my ego. I've fallen on my face many times before, but never literally.

And of course I wrote about this. It's no skin off my nose.

Author's note: Yes, I needed surgery, and yes I had my nose fixed, but they refused to entertain the notion of "doing" my eyes at the same time. The procedure took place Nov. 9, prior to Film Fest Weekend, making it possible for me to run into absolutely everyone in town while I was clad in an attractive nose cone. That really put my nose out of joint.
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor or A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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