Overall: Hey, I’m still kicking!

Amber walking while it snows

Should this be broken up into multiple posts? Probably yes. Instead, I’m going to divulge what’s been stewing in my brain, body, and soul for months. Not quite a chaotic stream of consciousness, but guaranteed to have typos.

Part 1: My Liver

There are probably a lot of symptoms that I experience that can be attributed to a hundred different things. Now that my body has been poked, prodded, scanned, and recorded, the current situation that worries me most is this liver issue. In my “complimentary health” training, we were coached not to say “disease” and call things by non-threatening names like “liver project”. Well, it is a fucking disease. I wouldn’t call diabetes a “sugar project.” That’s just insulting.

stock image woman holding hurt liver side by side with woman holding happy liver

Fibrosis Stages (cue the fanfare):

1A: Mild, perisinusoidal, zone 3

1B: Moderate, zone 3, perisinusoidal

1C: Portal/periportal

2: Perisinusoidal AND portal/periportal

3: Bridging fibrosis ← I am here

4: Cirrhosis

The medical team’s answer to this: lose weight. Well, goddamn. Why didn’t think of that? Why did I chose to be fat? Did I think I’d be a successful actor always cast in the best friend role? Did I want to start a fashion empire for middle-aged fat broads who only care about comfort not their looks?

edited the meme gif of Microsoft CMO telling people not to be poor to read: "People like a free lunch. And I'll be honest, if you're FAT, stop being FAT. Y'know get SKINNY, have a SALAD for over a year..."

Yet, since I’m not diabetic (which YAY is great), I don’t qualify for the new injections that are all the rage in Hollywood. I’m still scheduled to go to a Weight Loss Clinic which is part of the hospital. I’m sure they’ll tell me to stop eating white flour and carbs.

Amber with Aerial rig in garage
This is my “Are you fucking kidding me?” face.


I have already given up meat, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, whey, (most dairy basically), and fish. Nuts…the blood tests say I’m not allergic but they make me itch so I avoid those. I cannot give up gluten and wheat since it is a goddamn treat to even have vegan pizza and occasional meat substitutes like vegan chick’n. That’s all made with garbage, but it’s more filling than having glass noodles on a bed of cabbage with no dressing.

Part 2: My Eyes

This was another fun-fucking-tastic journey of discovery. My GP doctor had been telling I was due was a thorough eye exam and that I probably need glasses. I had LASIK 20 years ago. My eyes are often dry and scratchy which is a trade I was more than willing to make for 20/20 vision. When the surgery was first done, I was better than 20/20. It’s a miracle cure if you ask me.

I went to the local Pearle Vision Center and this is like Lenscrafters. There are doctors but they technically aren’t the same company of the people at the front who sell you the glasses. I didn’t have 20/20 vision anymore. This doctor also felt that I need reading glasses.

comedian Kathleen Madigan: I’m in my 50s and I don’t wanna go to LensCrafters, like… I won’t do it anymore. Like these contacts will rot my eyes, or I will drag my ass back down to that mall and have a millennial shoot air in my eye… that I didn’t ask for. Stop doing that. Stop doing that. “We have to test for glaucoma.” “No, you don’t. No, you don’t. I’ll give you some 70 bucks and sign a waiver. We’ll call it even.”

My anxiety still applies even when at an eye doctor. I don’t who’s the optometrist or ophthalmologist. Whatever. I don’t care. What I will say is that even with people coming off nice at first, the one woman selling me the glasses was not equipped to handle my anxiety. I was shaking and almost crying every time I went in there. Sure, she helped me choose these extremely adorable glasses with cat eye frames. And she said no one does “bifocals” anymore and that it’s all Progressives now. The total was over $900. For the one pair of glasses. I thought I was going to black out. The Butler reimbursed me for that.

Amber outside wearing the expensive eyeglasses as she stands next to Gus who is lying on a metal crate enjoying the fresh air.

I did my best with them, but I could not walk on the ground, on floors, or take stairs with those fucking things. I couldn’t see my computer keyboard. I couldn’t see Gus! I went back again, crying, saying, “I can’t do this. You gave me 30 days. Take them back.” The woman said, “You have 30 days. Keep trying. It does take a while for everyone to get used to them.”

I left. A week and a half later, I was back and saw a man that time. He looks exactly like actor Bradley Whitford. He had me schedule an appointment to see the doctor again because my left eye was just not working with those goddamn lenses. She did make an adjustment to the prescription. But that time, I made her write two separate prescriptions: distance and reading. I was fucking DONE. Especially after over $900, I should be seeing as perfectly as a pilot, as perfectly as after my LASIK.

So, I allowed them to replace the expensive glasses with single vision lenses and guess what? The price didn’t change. Why not? Why The Fuck Not?

I took photos of the prescriptions and had the reading glasses one in my hand because I was not going to get it filled there. The man told me that their frames START at $189. That’s not even the most basic lens with no fancy tinting. He said I was looking at over $300 for reading glasses. I said, fuck no and shopped online.

I used Pair.com and they needed a pupil measurement. I called Pearle Vision and asked for the numbers. The receptionist snidely said that’s information that can only be given to someone licensed in whatever. I argued, thinking about HIPAA and the whole Patient’s Bill of Rights bullshit, and said, “But I’m the patient.”

photograph of a flyer on display at Pearle Vision explaining about needing to be a licensed doctor to get the pupil dilation measurements

She doubled-down. I wrote back to Pair and gave them the phone number to call. Pair customer service was fast and efficient. I spent $60 on the cheap reading glasses. They’re not particularly sturdy, but I’m also not gentle with these things.

Amber disheveled, with the reading glasses at the end of her nose


I have to switch them constantly and there’s usually one or both pairs on my head at any given time. I don’t wear them to do my yoga classes anyway. And neither of them help me with the computer because it’s too close for the distance glasses and too far for the reading glasses. So I don’t wear them half of the time is the bottom line.

It’s not over.

I made an appointment to go back to see my LASIK surgeon who is over an hour away. I was seething from spending around $1000 that could have gone to touch-up surgery.

Because of my name change, the fact that it had been 20 years, and that whoever their IT person is—the poor overworked receptionist could not find my information. She was answering the phone, checking two different software programs, watching me fill out a four-page form, and trying to greet the long line of people coming in for their appointments. I felt so bad for her.

I gave her my old name. My old address. I asked her to use my SSN instead. She was trying birthdate for some reason which could be multiple people, but SSN should be unique. My records weren’t even in those systems because they were in the LASIK records. I had told her many times that this doctor did my LASIK.

Jessica Fletcher eyeroll

At her absolute wit’s end, this woman also took my insurance card and then told me in several different ways, “You can’t be seen with this insurance. We don’t take it. You have to go to one of their providers.” I said, “I’ll give you a credit card. I’ll pay cash. I’m seeing the surgeon who did the work unless he’s dead.” Ok, I didn’t say unless he’s dead, but I meant it one-hundred-percent. He did the work. I trust him. I will only see him unless he personally gives me a reference to see someone else.

Another woman told me to follow her. I think she was doctor. She did the same tests as the one at Pearle so I think only a doctor can do that. Then she led me to an exam room where she proceeded to ask me the same questions that were on the four pages I had just filled out by hand.

WHY? I could have sat my ass down at a terminal and typed that shit myself!

She was reasonable and stop asking me the questions saying she’d wait for them to get filled in.

Finally, Dr. Wasserman comes in as friendly as ever. I love this guy! He’s so great. I expected him to sit for a 5-10 minute consultation telling me either yes or no to touch-up surgery. We were in there for a while. I was not in and out. He and his assistant checked through the databases again.

Shouldn't you be in like witness protection or something?

I told him I was in Witness Protection. Then he did some tests and eye drops and other staring into the steampunk goggles thing. We talked for a considerable amount of time because he takes his business of eye health seriously.

He also asked about my lovely globulous xanthelasma “projects” around my eyes. He was starting to explain what they are and I stopped him. I said, yes, I know all about them now, and in fact, had them treated. He gave me that head tilt thing cats and dogs do.

tiny terrier dog tilting head from one side to the other

“I saw a dermatologist who treated them with some kind of acid,” I said.

“Who is this doctor?” he asked and I told him. “And she did what?”

“She made slices in my skin and put some kind of acid inside. She did warn me that they could grow back. The healing process made me looking like I had flesh-eating zombie disease for two months. It was gross. She said the only alternative is plastic surgery not covered by insurance.”

close up of my eyes after the acid treatment

He said, “I would not have done that. I work on these all the time. I cut them out and place a suture and the healing process is a few days.”

old Danny DeVito wearing glasses and looking scruffy in a bathrobe; Huh?

Huh. That would’ve been better.

He was completely honest with me and said that because of my lower eyelids, he would rather I see an oculofacial plastic surgeon because it’s all they do. He feared that anyone not qualified and confidently skilled in this could deform my lower lids. See! This guy is fucking honest!

Unfortunately, my corneas are too thin to repeat LASIK. Fortunately, there is a different type of surgery called PRK that could be done. I’m also a candidate for pre-cataract surgery. It’s a way to treat the eyeballs so the cataracts don’t develop or get worse. He’ll see me in June to see that’s still what I want. He also said my file is most definitely in his basement.

Now for the big reveal: he said that based on what he saw and how I tested with him and his assistant, I don’t actually “need” either of these glasses! My vision is around 20/30 with both eyes. A slight correction. The sort of thing that most people would ignore. But because I was following my GP’s orders to get my eyes checked and then went into the chasm of bullshit at Pearle Vision, I ended up spending a fucking fortune.

His exact words, “Sounds like someone wanted to sell you a pair of expensive glasses.”

Dr. Wasserman didn’t even charge me for my visit. Needless worrying laid upon me from the overworked receptionist—gone.

Part 3: My Teeth

Finally, after trying for years, I got an appointment with a dentist who takes this insurance. I kept calling the clinics on the list and every time, they said they don’t have a dentist on staff. I checked multiple locations. I finally found a great dentist and the office is 30 minutes away.

broken tooth number 1 in Amber's palm

Before I found him, I had an emergency with a broken tooth. I saw the nearest dentist and charged it. That was $2500 (or more, I don’t remember; The Butler reimbursed me for that too). Needless to say, I was anxious to find the only dentist in this entire county who answers the phone, has actual hours, and takes the insurance. Another tooth broke and that’s why I continued my search for the holy grail of dentists.

broken tooth number 2 in Amber's palm

I was a terrible agitated patient despite being happy to be there. I needed more and more Novocain (my mother said she’s the same way) and I still felt everything. When it was time for the permanent crown, I planned ahead. I had my dad drive while I periodically swallowed muscle relaxers and sedatives until I thought I had better not overdo it while remaining conscious. It turns out putting the crown in was a five-minute easy job. I spent the rest of that day asleep in bed.

I finally got a dental cleaning! Again, it’s been 150 years or so since that’s happened. I really love this hygienist Bonnie, but she’s going through a bad divorce and looking to move far away in a couple years. She’s already 60 and waiting for her next chapter. She’s delightful and interesting. I absolutely love talking to her.

Chandler Bing (Friends) smiling terribly for a photo

She actually said my teeth were fantastic. I’m like, uh how? Everything hurts all the time. She said my brushing routine must be great and didn’t have any recommendations for me to do at home. I have been grinding and clenching my teeth which the dentist told me and then I started to notice myself doing it. That’s caused some “projects” that the dentist can resolve hopefully without drilling. It’ll take two more appointments for that. Then, with any luck, I’ll be able to eat and drink like a normal person…ya know…by chewing.

None of those 2150 words even gets into the weeks where I hurt myself and thought I was having a stroke, palsy, or something else. I resolved that “project” by doing a lot of aerial hanging to decompress my spine; plus take my magnesium/calcium/zinc that I often neglect.

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