Yes, that’s me. And that’s a hospital bed and an IV in my arm, the little pulse / ox thing on my finger.
I am waving my arms in an odd way. More about that later…
Monday afternoon, I began to feel nauseous. I’d come home to finish some work on my laptop from here, and all was going well – except I felt a little ‘off’.
No worries. I pushed through.
Late in the afternoon, I started having some stomach pain. Again, I pushed through; I’m not prone to sickness and I don’t worry much when it comes, because – in my experience – it’s generally something manageable.
Plus, I’ve never quite gotten my mom’s voice out of my head.
That wasn’t mean or abusive, for the record. That was my very pragmatic mom, who was ALWAYS right in those instances, and she taught me a heck of a good thing. I’ve never been overdramatic with illness and I was able to be a very level-headed mom throughout the raising of all five kids.
Anyway, my stomach hurt. But I figured it would pass.
By the time Tony got home, I was complaining. I took a hot shower to see if I could relax a bit. I finally crawled into bed, fighting for a position to relieve the sensation of a maniacal claw squeezing the crap out of all the organs on the lower left side of my torso.
Tony said, “Should we go see about this?” and I said, “No, no, I think I’ll be okay (gasp).”
By the time I was on my hands and knees on the floor, trying to find comfort (and noticing that apparently the dog got into our room and peed, but that’s another, altogether unpleasant story), Tony said, We’re going, and so we went.
In the midst of trying to ignore and evade the pain, I had googled my symptoms (of course I did – don’t you?) and had determined that one of about 14 terminal illnesses would be my diagnosis. It looked dire. And painful. All the way to the hospital, I felt my brain sorting through which disease I’d most like to have. Maybe diverticulitis? No – isn’t that for old people? (Note to self: I am now one of those ‘old people’). How about an ovarian cyst? Maybe a tumor? A kidney stone???
Tony said, Are you preggers? and I think it was a sort of hopeful question, but I rolled my eyes.
We went to the ER and they were quick and in short order I had my clothes off and was being poked in the gut by the doctor. It hurt.
We talked, and it seemed like together we made the decision to have a non-contrast CT scan. I rather wished she’d just made up her mind herself, but I see now that medicine is a collaborative event, at least when the patient is coherent enough to contribute.
Before we moved rooms for the scan, she said, I’m gonna give you some pain meds. You’ve got a couple of allergies? We discussed what I could and couldn’t have, and she said – in anticipation of finding a kidney stone – I’m going to order you some Dilaudid. It’s a narcotic. It’ll help.
The nurse got ready to push the drug into my IV and warned me: You’ll feel all warm and fuzzy across your chest. You might feel lightheaded.
I felt my nose expand, and then my face, and then the room spun once and stopped.
After that, it was all rainbows and unicorns. I was so happy! The picture up top is me, gesturing emphatically while expressing my joy! I just wanted to be silly! Everything was silly! I think I suggested something mildly inappropriate to my husband. I thought it was hysterical!
The nurse said, So – you feel better? Yes, indeed I did! I was full of joy and happiness!
She said, I only gave you half. Do you want the other half?
Uh, no. A pinch was enough for me.
I was happy. My pain was gone. I disappeared off to CT scan land and joked with the tech about the fact that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant because I was FIFTY TWO – can you believe that?? He chuckled.
At this point (which was about 5AM), I was mystified. So was the doc. And I was beginning to feel slightly ridiculous; had I made it all up? Was I over reacting? WAS MY MOM RIGHT ALL ALONG!?
The doctor felt the same way (except about my mom). She said there was obvious tenderness in my belly, but no obvious source of the pain. I pressed her, and she said the only slightly unusual thing was – ahem – an unusual amount of stool all along my intestinal tract.
Really? Untold amounts of dollars – probably thousands – on an ER visit with TWO CT scans and some Very Good Drugs and all she could tell me was that I was full of you-know-what???
“Maybe a stomach thing. We just can’t say.”
/ / /
That was Monday, and while the pain decreased substantially, other – ahem – “symptoms” have appeared that indicate that ‘maybe a stomach virus’ might have been a spot-on diagnosis. My mom says it’s food poisoning. Could be.
Whatever it is or was, it’s been a rough week. I haven’t made much sense and I don’t feel too great. However, because my mom taught me well, I’m pushing through and trying to keep up.
And washing my hands constantly.
And glad I’ve got a husband who will take me to the ER at 11PM and sit up with me half the night, even though he left to make sure David got to band camp and then came back to rescue me. And then patiently listen to my insecurities roll out about how I spent all that time and money for what amounted to nothing, and how I felt like an idiot….
I tell ya, never a dull moment around here.