“It’s possible, but it’s a very slight chance, that your bowel could perforate from the procedure. It’s your decision, but if you feel you need to come in, we can do an x-ray to check.”
Don’t talk to me about slight chances. I’m usually not so lucky.
“Well, it really hurts.”
“As bad as before your procedure?”
“No…it hurts to even sit or stand up.” My voice cracks at the end. I’m such a wuss.
“You know your body, so come in if you think you need to. Give the ER my name when you do.”
My mom rushes me in. I try to hold it together, for her and myself. It’s ok. I’m sure you’re just really sore and nothing major is wrong. I try not to think about the possibility of a bowel leak. Not again. Please not again. I don’t wanna die.
The hospital guard offers me a wheelchair, but like the masochistic idiot that I am, I walk to the ER. Hunched over like a granny and wincing all the way. I lean on the counter, fumbling to hand over my ID cards and explain my situation. The nurse looks bored. My mom asks for a chair, and the nurse points me to a room. I lie down, hoping someone will come soon. It’s an ER, so no one does.
My body shakes uncontrollably. Great. Forgot about this lovely side effect I have to pain. When it gets really bad, I shiver like my dog in a lightning storm. Paramedics bring in a patient on a stretcher, and I hear them say “cancer patient.” At least I don’t have cancer, I half-heartedly tell myself through violent shakes which make the knives in my stomach pierce deeper. Could be worse. From the hacking and groaning going on down the hall, I know that’s true.
A PA comes in, and I explain my symptoms. No fever, no vomiting, which is a good sign. I hope to get some pain relief and go home. Wake up in the morning like this never happened. He says he will get me some pain meds and order an x-ray. I give him the name of the GI on call I spoke to. He exits the room, and I try to hang in there. Someone should be in soon.
No one is ever in soon. Why do I tell myself this nonsense?! Eventually an attractive Filipino nurse walks in, sunglasses on her head (it’s 9 in the evening), eyes darting about like a lost little puppy. “If I seem lost, it’s because I’ve never worked in this ER before. I usually work in the ER at the main hospital.” Great. She writes down my info on a paper towel since she can’t figure out how to put it into the computer. Inspiring more and more confidence. My mother, as always, is sympathetic. “It’s so hard to come to a new place.” I’m sure it is. Just not in the understanding mood at the moment.
She leaves, again, for a while. Will I ever get pain relief? I have to pee. Moving, at all, makes the pain worse. I ease out of bed, hobble down to the restroom, where I struggle to urinate as using any muscles in my lower abdomen burns like the dickens. By the time I make it back, I’m full on shaking and twitching. The nurse comes in to place the IV. As she sets up her needle, gauze, and wipes, she stops to take a look at her epileptic patient. (sorry, too far with the analogies?) Her eyes widen. “Are you scared or are you cold?”
“I’mmmm….in…pain. I..get…li..like this wh when I..hurt.”
My mom lifts up my shirt to show off my impressive scars. “Look at what she’s been through. You think she would be scared of a needle?”
I love my mom. They get medicine into my system, and my body sinks from the weight of it, and my shaking stills. It’s still a heavy amount of pain, but I can manage now.
I get the x-rays, where I have to stand and lie down. I start shaking all over again. I forgot how short lived those IV pain meds are. They give me more, but it turns my stomach with nausea. The results come back negative, and they prepare to release me. I’m no better pain wise. As my mom goes to get the car, I start vomiting. They tell me to come back if I have fever of 104 and/or worse vomiting.
“104? If we wait that long you’ll be dead,” my mom says. Very comforting.
My kids meet me at the car, helping me walk into the house and up the stairs. My mom protests that I stay downstairs, but I’m stubborn. I crawl into bed, unable to hide the tears and trembling from my children. I hate that they have to see me like this. I hate that everyone doesn’t know how to help, because they can’t help. There is nothing to be done. I don’t want them to watch me suffer.
A few hours later, the pain and vomiting increasing, we check my temperature. 101.8. Heck no I’m not waiting for it to get to 104! Back to the hospital I go…