2:00 a.m. Ash pulls into one of the ambulance spots. Wonder if I should point this out. Decide they probably won't tow in the few minutes it will take me to get inside. I care infinitely more about getting inside than I do about a possible ticket or tow.
2:02 a.m.: I weigh how
2:03 a.m.: Sit in wheelchair for probably the first time in my life. Every bump in the floor sends a new wave of nausea skittering across my body. Hunch over and hold my stomach tightly, because this makes me feel marginally less likely to toss whatever might still remain of my cookies.
2:04 a.m.: Nice nurse takes my vitals and hands me what I presume is supposed to be an emesis basin, except that instead of being a basin, it's a long plastic tube that reminds me of a giant blue condom. Like for an elephant, maybe.
2:10 a.m.: In a hospital gown, but kept my comfy pants on. No bare butts for me! Also kept on socks. Should have worn something cuter than white footies. Clearly, this is impairing my fashion sense. Nausea still rolling over me in waves, but at least I don't feel so panicked now.
2:13 a.m.: Nice Nurse, whose name I've already forgotten, comes back to take some blood and insert an IV. Ash gamely tries to distract me from the freaky needles and the blood and the fact that they are sticking those freaky needles into me and my very own blood is dripping out of my vein. He is not very successful. Still, it was a valiant effort on his part.
2:17 a.m.: Need to use my
gaint blue condom
2:18 a.m.: What do I do with it now? Don't want Ash to have to touch it. That seems like more than a husband should have to do. Nice Nurse is off doing other nurse-y things. Don't know where a call button is, and don't think I should use it for something so small while in an emergency room anyway.
2:30 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful pops into my room to discuss my symptoms. He performs a physical exam, pressing on various areas. When he pokes the part around my navel, where I've been experiencing pain for a couple of hours, it hurts.
2:31 a.m.: No, wait. That
didn't hurt. That was just a little discomfort, like when you bump your shin lightly into your cat. Because when he poked me down around my right hip, it hurt so bad I yelped and jackknifed up.
2:32 a.m.: Physical exam concludes with Dr. Cheerful manipulating my body into a couple of yoga-like poses, then poking. This stikes me as funny for some reason. If I didn't feel so awful, I would have giggled.
2:33 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful says, and I quote, "Hmmmm."
2:34 a.m.: Apparently I could have gallstones. But maybe I've got appendicitis. Or maybe it's something else altogether. Better run some more tests.
2:40 a.m.: Nurse Nice reappears to administer some drugs now that Dr. Cheerful has kindly ordered them. We discuss my very bad experience with Dilaudid. Would not make a good junkie, apparently. Nurse Nice says Dr. Cheerful gave her a couple of choices of pain medication in the same class, and suggests we try a different one. Apparently some people react badly to one and not to another.
2:41 a.m.: Oh, Fentanyl. You are so very much better than Dilaudid. Sweet relief.
2:42 a.m.: Ash makes the first of many jokes referencing Edgar Allen Poe and William Burroughs.
2:43 a.m.: Ash and Nurse Nice debate whether I should hope for gallstones or hope for appendicitis. I'm not sure I want to hope
for either, but I also don't want to find out that I've made a mountain out of a molehill. But that doesn't mean I want to have surgery
either. Nurse Nice states decisively that she'd take the appendicitis over the gallstones. I don't like the sound of that-- what makes gallstones worse than appendicitis? The treatment? The possible complications? The recovery period? The chances of successful treatment? If it weren't for the Fentanyl, I'd probably be freaking out right now.
2:45 a.m.: Oh, anti-emetic that I didn't hear the name of. You are my second-best friend, but only because Fentanyl made the bad pain go bye bye. We should all hang out together tonight.
2:49 a.m.: Some guy down the hall has turned on the TV and, from the sound of it, is trying to share the program with everyone else in the ER.
3:10 a.m.: An orderly comes to take me to CT. He looks like he's here in between rides with his buddies in the Patriot Guard Riders
3:11 a.m.: Stretcher ride through the hospital corridors is not as much fun as you might think. Acoustic ceiling tiles whip by dizzyingly.It's cold. Every bump dents my Fentanyl armor a little bit. Also, I do not want to make awkward small talk with the orderly because I feel so crappy, and then I feel guilty because I'm sure he's a very nice man and he's trying to be friendly and reassuring to me. So I try to make awkward small talk anyway.
3:13 a.m.: Biker Orderly rolls me onto my side so that I can be slid onto the board for the CT. My attempts to help only make matters more difficult, and the CT guy tells me to" pretend to be a log" -- this is easier said than done.
3:15 a.m.: CT scans are weird. Am I supposed to keep my eyes shut? What would happen if I opened them? The computer voice tells me to "Breathe in", then commands "Hold your breath." The problem is, it hurts to breathe in, so I'm not quite ready when the command to hold it comes up. What if that screws up the image? What if that makes them miss something important.
3:20 a.m.: Biker Orderly moves me back to the stretcher. On the way out of the department, he stops at a warming cabinet and brings me a toasty blanket. The CT rooms are very cold, and I've started to shiver. He noticed and cared enough to do something. I am really touched.
3:25 a.m.: That guy down the hall is arguing with the Nice Nurse and a doctor, presumably Dr. Cheerful. Apparently, he disagrees with them that there is nothing wrong with him and wants to be admitted RIGHT NOW.
3:27 a.m.: The guy down the hall continues to argue even though, as the entire ER can now hear, his test results have all been normal.
3:29 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful is holding fast. No more tests, no more treatments, time for this guy to go home and follow up with his doctor in the morning.
3:30 a.m.: That guy finally breaks down and agrees to leave, if they'll give him some drug I don't recognize. I don't hear the response, but wonder how doctors and nurses deal with idiots like this. TV has been blaring the entire time, necessitating the loud voices used by the doctor and the nurse-- there's only so much sound these partitions can block.
3:40 a.m.: TV switches off.
3:42 a.m.: The guy down the hall shuffles past toward the exit. He is morbidly obese and wearing a plaid bathrobe. He complains loudly the entire way down the hall. I would love
to know the backstory there.
3:55 a.m.: Ash and I ponder whether this is going to be the first sunrise we've ever seen together. The fact that he is not a morning person is one of his more endearing qualities, if you ask me. I find the thought that we might experience our first sunrise from the confines of an emergency room incredibly amusing.
3:56 a.m.: Ash ruins my fun by recalling that we have, in fact, seen the sunrise together once before.
4:10 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful enters the room and perkily announces, "Guess what! You get to have your appendix out this morning!"
4:11 a.m.: Oh God.
4: 12 a.m.: Apparently, I shouldn't worry because if I'm lucky, Dr. Cutter will do it laparoscopically. If that's the better way to do it, why would any surgeon do it the other way? Why don't I get to tell the surgeon that I want it done that way?
4:13 a.m.: Nurse Nice stops in to check my vitals and tells me that they're going to have me admitted as soon as they can get a room for me upstairs. Ash asks how soon they will do the surgery and she says it will probably be pretty early-- maybe 7 or 8 a.m.
4:14 a.m.: Oh God.
4:15 a.m.: Nurse Nice leaves. I look at Ash and tearily mumble, "I've never even been in the hospital before." Ash staunchly points out that this is routine
. No big deal, they do hundreds of these a year, if not thousands or millions. Nothing, really.
4:16 a.m.: Tell Ash that we should probably call into work. He laughs.
4:20 a.m.: Ash brought a big binder of work with him, and he's been trying to read all night. I did not bring anything with me because I was too distraught and sick. Right now, I wish I had something like a magazine, or something else light and amusing to distract me. Ash offers me his "leisure reading"
. I decline.
4:30 a.m.: Fentanyl, why are you leaving me? Did I say something wrong? Please don't go and leave me here with this pain!
4:45 a.m.: Nice Nurse arrives with a new dose. Thank heaven. She also tops off the anti-emetic and tells me they're waiting for a room.
4: 55 a.m.: I cannot stop interrupting Ash's reading to ask for reassurance. He valiantly refrains from biting my head off.
5:15 a.m.: I have been awake for nearly 24 hours, and I am pumped full of very strong drugs. But I cannot sleep, not even a little. I keep worrying about having someone cut me open, then I worry about staying in the hospital. I wonder how long I'll be in? They send you home after a couple of days when you have a C-section, right? And that involves really
slicing you open, so if they do this one laparasopically, probably I'll be out the next day. That seems logical.
5:30 a.m.: Nice Nurse stops by to check my vitals and start a bag full of antibiotics. Burns, burns, burns, BURNSBURNSBURNS.
6:00 a.m.: The sky is slowly turning from black to blue, and the drugs are not really working anymore. Nice Nurse tells me I'll be going upstairs any minute, so I decide to wait until I get to the room. Besides, I'll probably be going to surgery really soon and then they'll pull out the big guns from the pharmacy.
6:15 a.m.: Still waiting. Fifteen minutes have never been so long.
6:20 a.m.: I want the drugs. But the orderly is here to take me to the surgical ward. I don't get the chance to say goodbye to Nice Nurse.
6:21 a.m.: Why are the hospital floors so bumpy
6:22 a.m.: Remember back when tiny little video cameras became readily available, so every late night talk show came up with a "[fill-in-the-blank]-cam"? And the audience would howl with laughter at shaky video with odd perspectives? Laying flat on my back, watching the ceiling tiles fly by feels a lot like watching "stretcher-cam" footage.
6:25 a.m.: They want me to scoot myself from the stretcher into the bed. Suuuuure, I'll do that for you. Oh, you're serious
6:26 a.m.: The nurse taking care of me up here is NOT nice. In fact, I will call her Nurse Bates, as in Kathy Bates, because I can't remember the name of the crazy nurse that she played in Misery
. She is brusque and rough and leaves without bringing me the drugs I've asked for several times, or even mentioning when she will be back with them.
6:31 a.m.: Ash points out the window. The sky is pink and gold. The dawn of my last day with all my organs.
TO BE CONTINUED...