Christmas morning I woke up with the nastiest present ever, probably sent to me from the devil: a horrible sinus infection, the raging kind that makes it feel like someone is standing on your face, like your head will explode from the throbbing, aching pressure, and also makes your teeth hurt because your sinuses are so swollen.

Obviously I couldn’t go to the doctor, because it was Christmas.  So I had to spend my last Christmas in Texas in a tasteless, decongestant-induced haze.  Today was the first day I could go to the doctor since this began and miraculously, I was able to snag an appointment.  I showed up promptly, knowing exactly what to expect from the 13, 467 other sinus infections I have had in my short life thus far: What color is your snot?  Does this hurt (as they press on your cheekbones)?  An answer of “green” or “yellow” to the first and “YES” to the second gets you a diagnosis and a prescription for antibiotics, usually amoxicillin, which does not work because that stuff hasn’t worked for me since I outgrew the pink refrigerated version.

I answered the standard questions for the nurse and waited patiently for the nurse practitioner to arrive and do the “Does this hurt” test, but to my surprise the nurse came back with a small square of waxed paper.

“Blow your nose on this,” she instructed.

I looked at her dubiously.  “Are you serious?”

She nodded.  “Yeah, as much as you can get on there.”

I obliged and gave her back the occupied paper between pinched thumb and forefinger.  She carried it out of the room.  The nurse practitioner came in a bit later to look in my ears.  “We just a new nasal swab that we have wanted for a long time,” she chirped.  “That way we can see what’s really going on under the microscope.”  She left and came back, informed me I was just loaded, and handed me four prescriptions – none of which was amoxicillin, thank goodness.