You don’t mock Murphy’s Law.
If there’s anything I learned this week, it’s that you. Do. Not. Mock. Murphy’s Law.
Monday night I wrote this on my Facebook wall:
And you know what? I did find some cheap lights at Walmart. They looked great on the tree after The Bean put them up, but by the time I decided to go out and put the porch lights up, I was just too tired. It’d been a long day, I was feeling a little wrung out, and to top it all off I had some cramps.
I decided to put it off until the next morning. Sure, the boys would watch me hanging them and might get ideas about crawling around on our porch in unsafe ways…. but I really did have some bad cramps. They’d started earlier in the afternoon and had been getting steadily worse. I almost never suffer from those, so why not lay about on the couch with a favorite old book and feel sorry for myself? It seemed like a good plan.
Eventually the Bean dragged me to bed. I got in bed beside him, curling up, and tried to drift off to sleep.
Long after his breathing had deepened and he’d joined the land of sleepers, I lay beside him, completely awake, curling up around my crampy stomach. I just couldn’t get comfortable, no matter which way I lay. It was a shame, too, because I was really exhausted and felt like I could really use a good night’s sleep.
I tossed. I turned. I tried curling up. I tried laying flat. Nothing helped. Was it cramps, or was it indigestion? Maybe gas?
I just get sexier with every passing year, don’t I?
Anyways, at about 4 am, I gave up sleeping and decided to try sitting up on the couch. I found an old, unopened bottle of Pepto Bismol and took some. It helped a little bit – the cramping went away, but after about ten minutes I felt that familiar prickling on my skin.
After two pregnancies I knew exactly what that meant, so I calmly hunted around the couch cushions for a scrunchy, went to the kitchen to get some some tissues so they’d be ready to blow my nose, and walked serenely over to the toilet, arriving at just the perfect moment to puke without any pausing.
If there’s one good thing about having suffered from such bad morning sickness with the DragonMonkey and the Squid, it’s that it’s made me the Michael Jordan of puking. I’ve got the timing down flat – I dare anyone to do it with more finesse.
“You got a stomach bug?” I heard the Bean call from the bedroom. His alarm had already gone off – he’d come home early the night before to celebrate decorating the Christmas tree with us, so he was leaving early to work to make up for lost time.
I admired the festively pink color I’d just reproduced into the toilet (seriously – it’s even prettier than Skittles. If you’ve got to puke, Pepto Bismol is the way to go), rinsed my mouth, and crawled back into bed beside him.
“No – I don’t know what’s wrong. My stomach really hurts. Do you… do you have to go in early today?”
“Well, since my cell is broken, can you leave yours with me?”
The Bean got showered and gave me a kiss on the head, and told me to take it easy, and off he went.
I dozed until the boys got up, but I was still feeling really crappy. These were obviously the worse gas cramps in the history of all mankind.
I let the boys tear the house down around me until about 10 – then started to get them ready to go to a friend’s house. I was supposed to be there at 10:30, but when 10:45 hit and I wasn’t even in the car because I felt so icky, I decided enough was enough.
I’d puked. I was in pain. The pain was mostly upper stomach, but if I pressed down on my appendix area, the rebound pain was terrible.
On the one hand, we have crappy insurance. Oh, it kicks in, but not for several thousands of dollars, and then only it only partially covers it.
On the other hand – dude. Burst appendix. Death.
Besides – I had been chatting with Mugwump all morning on Facebook, and she’d practically yelled at me for not going to the hospital yet.
What would you do if it were your boys, or Caspian, or The Bean?
Simple – I’d take them to the doctor.
THEN WHY AREN’T YOU ALREADY THERE?
I dropped my boys off at a local daycare and made my way over to Urgent Care. As I shuffled down the extremely long hallway to the lab area, I realized that it might be more serious than just gas – maybe it actually was appendicitis? I mean, I’d never heard of gas pains keeping you hunched over and shuffling like Igor.
I asked the lab, but no, they didn’t have the necessary equipment to diagnose appendicitis, so I shuffled back to my car, grabbed a piece of gum to keep the nausea down, and headed off to downtown Portland. I left a message on The Bean’s work phone that I was heading in, and started down the road.
We live about forty minutes outside of the heart of the city, so by the time I got there, I wasn’t feeling very well at all. Like, at ALL. I found the ER, but couldn’t find any parking there. I circled around the block, cruising at about 10 miles per hour because I couldn’t trust my reaction times faster than that.
In retrospect – dude. I make dumb decisions when I’m not feeling well. If I couldn’t drive faster than 10 miles per hour, I probably shouldn’t have been driving at all…. but somehow, it made sense to me at the time.
I finally found parking about a block and a half away from the hospital… but when I pulled in, I took one look at that block and a half walk I would have to walk- even IF I found a parking spot near the entrance, and I just felt defeated. I couldn’t do it – even if it was only two blocks. I just couldn’t walk that far.
I turned my car in the world’s slowest illegal u-turn and circled back around the hospital. And then I saw it:
I could have cried – it was so perfect. If ever there was a moment for Valet parking, this was it.
I pulled my little Scion up to the curb and slowly gathered my purse and wallet, and began edging my way out of the car.
“Hi there! Are your keys in the car? What’s your first name?” The valet attendant was all smiles and sunshine – perfect for a valet attendant, but just grating to the nerves to someone who was feeling sick.
Death. I am death warmed over. Quit your stupid cheerfulness. “Becky. It’s Becky. Is this the ER?”
“Nope!” He grinned a huge, disturbingly cheerful smile at me. “The ER is over that way – you just go around the edge of this block, down two sets of stairs, and over the….”
I tuned him out. It was… it was just too much. Too far. He might as well have been describing how to get to the moon. I’d held it together through the drive to the hospital, and I was so close, I was so close to the ER, but I was just never gonna make it…….
I burst into tears.
“Oh my gosh, are you okay?”
I burst into tears even harder.
I’m telling you – these were magnificent tears. It was like that scene on Alice and Wonderland where she’s a giant, and she cries really hard, and fills up the entire room with the tears that are catapulting themselves out of the corner of her eyes? It was just like that.
“Oh. Oh my gosh. Oh, oh, geez. Do you need a wheelchair? Oh, my gosh. Are you okay?” he sounded genuinely horrified. I felt guilty for making a scene, so I tried to mop my face with the back of my arm.
“A wheel chair would be nice….”
By the time I’d gotten checked in The Bean had found my hospital and joined me – I think my pitiful sounding message I left while the guy wheeled me in might have worried him a bit.
It took almost two hours for them to get me to the CT – and in that time the pain went from bad to really bad. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was banging my head on the side of the hospital bed and biting my knuckle to keep from making noise. It was about that time I quit worrying that I was “wasting” our Christmas money with an unnecessary trip to the ER.
The doctor finally made it in to ask a few questions and do a physical assessment.
“I need to make sure this isn’t an internal problem, so I’m going to give you a quick pelvic and make sure I can’t recreate this pain from the inside.” She slapped on a pair of gloves, asked me to scoot to the edge of the bed… and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Bean move that fast. One second he was sitting at the foot of my hospital bed, and the next moment he’d disappeared behind the head of my bed, resolutely staring the opposite direction. It was like magic – I didn’t even know he had moves like that.
The exam was mercifully brief, and at the end she did offer some pain medications. The nurse came back in with morphine – and I know junkies all over the world are facepalming, but I took as little as I could. I hate the way morphine makes me feel – it’s as if all the air in my lungs is too dense, and too heavy, and I’m going to forget how to breathe.
Four milligrams later, the pain finally got to the point where I felt like I could think again. No surprise, the CT came back positive for an inflamed appendix, so they ushered me up to surgery.
The staff up there was genuinely sweet and reassuring – they kept repeating themselves, and talking in calm, soothing tones, as if I were a horse about to bolt. I finally had to be blunt with them, “Look. I’m not nervous at all. You guys do what you need to do to make my stomach feel better – I honestly don’t care if nurse number one is going to exchange places with nurse number two during recovery. Seriously.”
I meant it, too. If they had told me they wanted to get naked and dance the cha-cha around the room – that a bunch of naked, dancing medical personnel would magically make my stomach quit hurting, even for a little bit…I was all down for it. Jiggle those jiggly bits, people. Or don’t jiggle. Give me an appendectomy, or cut me into little tiny ribbons. I don’t care. Just give me a break from the pain.
Surgery took a bit longer than expected – closer to two hours, but when I woke up I felt like a million bucks. Apparently my appendix had actually been leaking for some time, and (this is a direct quote from the surgical team when they made rounds the next morning) – “When we opened you up there was a lot of pus – your entire pelvic cavity was filled with pus and green infectious liquid, and the whole thing looked gangrenous.”
I sat there on the bed, trying to think what I was supposed to say in response, but what the heck are you supposed to say to that? “Oh. Well. That sounds really sexy.”
One of the medical students laughed, but stifled it almost immediately when the head surgeon didn’t even crack a smile.
“Well,” said Mr. No-Nonsense, “We flushed it out. It smelled really bad, but we were able to get it all out.”
“Oh. Uh… I’m sorry?” But seriously – why did he wait for a response? What the heck am I supposed to say? Dear Abby never gave advice on the proper way to say “I‘m sorry you had to smell my gangrenous pelvic cavity pus“. So sue me.
Anyways – miraculously, I never spiked a fever, and after an extra few doses of hospital antibiotics, they sent me home on Wednesday afternoon.
All of this to say:
#1: I’m really, really lucky. Appendicitis doesn’t always present with a painful lower right quadrant of the stomach, fever, and lots of vomiting. Until the pain got so bad I couldn’t see straight, it felt very similar to gas pains. I’m just amazed at my wonderful immune system. It may attack my joints whenever I feel stressed, but I had an entire body filled with pus, and I didn’t get the least bit septic. Go, body, go.
#2: This is why you still haven’t gotten your darn clinic post. Although, in better news, I am more than 50,000 words through the rough draft of my book and one appendix lighter. So there’s that.
#3: Except for a bowl of oatmeal, one piece of pizza (it’s the only thing that looked semi-appetizing), and one bowl of mashed potatoes, I didn’t eat between Monday night and this morning… and I gained 7 pounds. Dude. Who even does that? I know it’s supposedly from the IV, and water retention from the meds, yadda yadda…
Dude. I gained 7 pounds from a bowl of oatmeal and a slice of pizza and a small bowl of mashed potatoes. That’s, like, against the laws of physics.
Anyways, how are all of you doing?
PS: Here’s a picture of an angry appendix. This is kind of what I imagine mine looked like before they clipped it off, put it in a plastic bag, and sucked it out of my belly button (hey, man, if I have to have that mental image in my head, you do too. Sorry.)