I cannot imagine how anyone can actually heal in a hospital.
I felt helpless and hopeless and totally alone, even though the whole place was teeming like some giant antfarm with people in all manner of uniforms.
And don’t even get me started on how uncomfortable the bed is.
I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and it helped me not feel so damn sorry for myself.
I went in early Tuesday morning…I had been experiencing pain in my stomach since Saturday night that grew increasingly worse and increasingly localized to my right lower abdomen. I held off going as long as I could, but Monday night was sleepless from pain, so emergency is where I ended up.
They poked and prodded, stuck an IV in me, than later some blood. Said it was likely I had appendicitis, but that my white blood count was low and so they need to do more tests.
That’s all I knew until someone came in with three bottles of this hideous white, radioactive liquid and told me to drink it all up, yum yum. It took every ounce of will I possessed and some I didn’t even know I possessed to keep it all down, but I did it. I was proud of myself, even. Reading my book, trying to forget what I’d read about the ingredients on the bottle. When it was noticed that I’d finished, I was whisked away to a room with a big, scary-looking machine…then came the barium enema (even writing the gory details would make me puke right now) and some weird shit into my IV drip that made my legs hot and my mouth taste metallic. Fucking thought I was in some sort of alien ship being experimented on. It was loud and I cried and cried and they told me to stop breathing and then to breathe and I wanted to scream but I couldn’t.
I was wheeled into a new room a little bit later and within the hour I started losing all that white stuff I drank in unimaginably humiliating ways. This is when the helplessness really sunk in…I couldn’t make it to the bathroom…I was covered in the stuff, it was all over the floor and all over my gown, but my IV was tangled up in everything and so I had to push the button. They had to move me to a different room where it happened all over again and again and I felt somehow like I had to apologize even though I didn’t drink the stuff by choice.
They said, yes indeed, you have appendicitis, we’re calling the surgeon. Yippee. Get the mother out of me and let go HOME.
Surgeon comes in sometime later…I can stay in my bed long enough to listen to him before I run back into the bathroom, dragging my pole full of baggies. I wonder why they keep asking me if I want pain killers. How the fuck am I supposed to tell you how I feel if I can’t feel anything? Maddening. Anyway, surgeon says he’s not 100% sure it’s appendicitis anymore, now that he’s looked at the scan and how about he go look at it again with another radiologist. More waiting.
Nope. He’s not convinced. How about I stay the night with things dripping into me and we’ll do some other kinds of tests for other things in the morning? Either that, or he cuts into me now and takes out anything that looks funny. Including pieces of my intestines if he has to. No thanks, I’ll stay here.
IV has been flopping around too much. I can’t hold a book with the hand on that arm. A nice lady comes and readjusts it for me and then I can at least try to sleep. Doesn’t happen. Too much light and sound…and coming in to check my vitals. I want to scream I’M NOT DYING, JUST LET ME GO TO SLEEP! I can lay in bed now for a long time without having to go you-know-where. The synthetic foam mattress makes me sweat, but if I take the blankets off I shiver and shake. I have a fever. I want my mommy. And my husband. And my little guy, who is sleeping peacefully, snug and warm.
The night is long. I’m alone for long stretches and it makes me feel like a baby. I want to cry out. I want to feel like somebody cares about more than my beeping machine. Someone comes to take some more blood, notes how the last person really "bruised me up good" and too bad that’s my only vein. Yup. Only one I’ve got.
In the morning they bring me coffee. I have not eaten in 36 hours, nor do I drink coffee. I can’t imagine that is good for anyone who had only water for a day and a half. Acid reflux anyone?. Surgeon comes in, says maybe ovarian cyst has ruptured. I get an x-ray, come back upstairs, start my period, get a pelvic ultrasound, come back upstairs. The pain is so much less, surgeon is glad of that, but he doesn’t think it has anything to do with the antibiotics. I’m certainly glad I could give him an accurate report since I didn’t take any pain killers. He says maybe viral infection. He says I’m "mysterious." Later, when he’s looked at those other tests he says there is nothing conclusive. He is worried about the inflammation but that none of my symptoms fit together to form a complete picture. But there is also no reason for keeping me there. Heavens be praised!
He does, however, say that I need to come back in two weeks for one of those scans. I will tell the whole world right now that I will never drink that white stuff again. Surgeon says we’ll just do the test to be sure nothing’s there. The stuff didn’t get far enough down the first time we took it and he’d like to see that area in more detail. Well, gee, didn’t it say on the bottle to wait an hour but instead they wheeled me right down, isn’t that what happened? Why do I know more about that shit I drank than they do? I decide I am getting well and no way will I drink that stuff again. Surgeon says don’t worry, you won’t need the enema. Least of my worries, pal.
I wait a while longer for my release. Nurse fails to bring me tea. Other nurse brings tea an hour later then fails to bring me a hot water bottle. Tea-forgetting nurse comes with release papers. Whew!
Husband comes with clothing. All I want to do is stand up. It is the only thing that sounds at all comfortable and they won’t let me do it. They wheel me out and it’s so…Victorian or something. Oh, well. I have regular clothes on and have not been cut into. There is homemade chicken broth on the stove because my husband is amazing and wonderful and wished he could do more than that. But it is the best thing I’ve ever heard of.
I am home. I eat a little bit of rice now and then and sip miso. People are taking care of me. I am tired and weak and shaky and sore, but people are taking care of me. I am thankful, so thankful that I didn’t have to spend more time there, that the surgeon looked twice at my scan, that they didn’t send me home with a prescription. So thankful. Not knowing what is wrong but going home to my family is about a thousand times better than trying to be comfortable in that freezing cold, sterile room where I need to remember to pee in the little bowl, where my requests are forgotten because there a people there who need help so much more than I do.
I’m feeling better. I will continue to, and that is nice to know.