Down, But Not Out…Yet

So, the lights have been dark here at There’s a Bee in My Bodice for awhile now.

There is a reason, and it’s not even my standard “I’ve been kidnapped by aliens” line.

Two weeks ago today, I was in the ER in the most agonizing pain I’ve ever been in in my entire life–and I’ve herniated a disc in my back and had two babies. I thought I was going to die.

In fact, a part of me wanted to.

In any case, here’s the story: I stayed late at work to finish up report cards, which were due on Friday. I’d been a little nauseous all day, but nothing too bad. I came home and started emptying out the dishwasher.

Down low on the right side, I felt this little *tink*. Nothing major, just a little twinge. Then my stomach cramped. Hardcore. Now everyone has felt this at one time or another, and I thought it would pass.

But it didn’t.

I sat down, and husband came home. An hour later, I’m in the most debilitating pain I’ve ever been in. M starts insisting I go to the ER. I keep insisting that, because I’d been there just three weeks ago, they’ll see me as a frequent flier looking for drugs, and that they’ll ignore me (this part, at least, was true. Ignored me for almost two hours, while I cried and the lady who came in after me to get her stitches removed was seen and released).

M kept pushing, and eventually I agreed to go to Urgent Care.

Thus began a very long night.

We got to the Urgent Care, but they were closing (who says they actually have to abide by their posted hours: let’s close at 6:15, even though this Urgent Care lists its hours as 7:00-9:00PM). M then drove me to the ER, where I cried, and complained, and told him that even though it wasn’t getting better, I wasn’t going in–for all of the reasons I’ve listed above. After all, if I went to the ER every time I was in debilitating pain, I’d be going once or twice a month.

Yes, my stomach really is this bad. I have my husband so well trained that he starts a timer the first time I pop off with, “Oh, my god, I want to die.”

Yes, a timer. We set it for 90 minutes after I first say those words out loud. The man has watched me writhe around on the floor in agony, and usually these attacks last about 90 minutes. If they last longer, despite whatever meds I have on board, I agree to go to the ER without complaint.

I hadn’t made it 90 minutes by the time we got to the ER, but the pain just kept ramping up.

Anyway, they eventually took me back to a room, and M took the kids home to get them some dinner. A friend of mine came to the house to watch the kids, and, about an hour and a half later, M came back to the ER.

I still hadn’t been seen. Instead, I had simply hung my head over the sink and cried.

M watched this for a time, and then I guess he couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t remember any of this, because I was preoccupied with being in pain, but apparently he went out and fetched a nurse. Ten minutes later, the doctor came in and ordered up some morphine and Zofran.

My favorite drug combination.

If you’re a doctor, maybe you’ll say that I was over-medicated, or that I really DO sound like a junkie. I’m not. I never take all the pain meds I’m prescribed. I’ve been described by my surgeons and nurses as “tough as nails.”

Sometimes, people really do need pain meds. I was one of them.

In any case, the ER doctor started pushing on my leg, and I kept telling him, “No, that’s not where the pain is. The pain is higher.” But he’d push on a certain spot, and my stomach would explode in pain.

Then I reached down, and I felt a lump about four inches long that hadn’t been there at 5:00.

So I told him that the lump was new. He said he’d order to CAT scan, but the machine was broken, so I had to have an ultrasound instead. By this time, I’ve got some morphine on board, and the pain, while still there, is tolerable. I’m not having a party by any stretch, but hey.

Anyway, long story short, it turns out that that lump was my small intestine, which popped through a hernia to say hello. It took them quite a while to determine this, and this included a second ultrasound conducted by the doctor, who kept saying, “What is that? I think I see peristalsis, but it is so full of fluid…”

Nothing inspires confidence like “What is that?” but hey. I didn’t care.

The ER doc at some point decided he was going to shove it back in. I remember him saying, “I’m going to give you some Versed. It won’t take away the pain, but it will make it so you don’t care.”

Honestly, that explanation worked for me.

Now here’s where husband and I differ in our accounts of what happened. I remember the nurse patting me on the shoulder gently while they tried to shove my intestines back in and I took the pain stoically. M remembers them holding me down while I basically came off the gurney.

I’m sure I was perfectly well behaved. I’m sure.

Anyway, the surgeon was called, and she demanded that I get transferred to another hospital so they could do a CT scan. Around midnight (remember, this started at 5:30), I got an ambulance ride to a second hospital. M had gone home. I’d just been shot up with some more morphine.

They were playing Abba’s Dancing Queen in the ambulance. I think the EMTs were 12. I remember laughing my head off in the ambulance, up until the moment that I threw up.

Anyway, I get to the second hospital. Another ER doc came in and started talking to me–I don’t remember anything he said, because, well, I was too busy throwing up. He tried to push it back in, too, to no avail. A lot of it is a blur.  The doc kept asking me if was scared. I wasn’t. At that point, I didn’t care about much of anything, except the fact that I was barfing.

I started talking about things I don’t remember very well, but, if the hazy memories are correct, I should probably regret.

As far as I know, I never did get that CT scan–you know, the one I had to be transferred for.

At some point, something was said about my appendix. I don’t know. The surgeon came in, introduced herself, and said that the operating room was taken until 5:00AM. I told her about the other hernia I’d had, but I think I told her I’d had it in the wrong spot.

That’s the thing with pain meds, combined with Phenergan, combined with exhaustion. It makes you stupid.

I texted M to let him know that I was in a different hospital and was having surgery. I emailed my bosses. I texted my principal. I don’t know what I said–I think I gave them the information I had at the time. I felt really on top of things, actually. I have no idea of the intelligence of my emails, but whatever. I had had the presence of mind to email, which I thought was impressive considering the hour, the pain, and the meds. I was completely calm and in control, right?

It wasn’t until I was in holding (that’s what I decided to call the place I was put before surgery) that I decided to be scared.

I hadn’t said goodbye to my husband. I hadn’t kissed the kids. I hadn’t said anything profound that the kids/Hubs would remember. The last time they’d seen me, I’d been crying in an ER. I think the last thing I’d said to Monkey was, “Hand me that plate, would you?”

Huh. So much for famous last words.

Anyway, I went into surgery almost exactly 12 hours after my ordeal had begun. They fixed my hernia, but it was already too late to save  my intestines, which had died like some sort of failed balloon animal under my skin. I wound up losing four inches of intestine, had a mesh installed under my skin, and they didn’t do anything with my appendix.

I don’t think. I find out for certain tomorrow, when I see the surgeon for the first time since getting out.

Anyway, roughly 60 hours after surgery–almost exactly 72 hours after I went to the ER–I was sent home. I’d been told I’d be in for 5-7 days. Whether this was the insurance company or my miraculous powers of healing, who can know for sure?

But the desire to write sort of died. I couldn’t focus on the story I was supposed to finish for an anthology–and it was almost done. I’d gone slower than I would have liked, because I caught a cold about a month ago, and I was busy at work. I wound up dropping out, because I knew I couldn’t make my deadline. I tried to write and things came out stupid, and all it did was make me cry. Since I’m avoiding things like that, I had to give it up.

I never miss deadlines, and it made me sad to drop out. I suppose it couldn’t be helped.

In any case, that’s what’s been going on in my world.


The Gluten Free Experiment

Today, I made vegan, gluten-free corn muffins.

Not out of any higher sense of purpose. I’d happily eat a slab of beef if it didn’t make me outrageously sick. But it does. As much as it pains my ranch-raised husband, who raised and then ate Boo boo, we are a largely meat free household. We do eat fish, and that’s where it ends, for the most part. (As an aside: I used to hate fish. Wouldn’t touch the stuff. Sushi actually made me gag. And then it was the only thing I ate that didn’t make me sick, and I developed an affinity for it. Still not my favorite, but my favorite hurts me, so there you go. It IS possible to change your taste buds after 30!)

Because of Hub’s dietary restrictions, we’ve largely given up potatoes, so my meat and potatoes guy has largely turned into a fish and salad kind of dude. Really, a healthier way to live, even if we were dragged into it kicking and screaming.

Recently, on top of the eggs and beef, I was advised to give up gluten, and I have. In the two weeks of the gluten-free experiment, I’ve taken one Zofran. Incidentally, that’s down from the one Zofran A DAY I was taking just to function and go to work in the morning. For more than 10 of those days, my stomach felt good, which hasn’t happened in four years. Right now it hurts, and I’m a little queasy, but I’ve been fighting a cold for over a week, and cough medicine usually does a number on my stomach, so I’ll take it.

I’m not crying on the floor, so I’ll put it in the win column.

So, I made gluten-free, vegan muffins. Between the allergy to beef and eggs, and now wheat (and boy child’s lactose intolerance), there’s not a lot in the baked goods aisle that we can all eat. So, I attempted to bake, because, well, I kind of can’t buy it.

I think they turned out remarkably good, all things considered.

This is notable for two reasons:

1) I don’t bake.

2) Oh, wait, there’s only one reason. I don’t bake.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can cook. I love cooking (I hate the clean up, but that’s another blog). The more complicated the recipe, the better. (weekends only. Weekdays it’s crock pot time!) But baking? Not so much.

It’s not that I don’t want to bake.

It’s that I don’t have the talent for it.

So if any of you have any good gluten-free, vegan recipes for baking, I’d sure like to try them!

Cover Reveal!

Here’s some fun with author Cynthia Gail!

Thank you for inviting me to join you and your fans today. I’m so excited to finally reveal the cover to my debut novel, Winter’s Magic. It’s the first in a four-book series called Music City Hearts.

It’s kind of ironic that I decided to keep the cover under wraps until my contest launch, because I’m rarely able to keep secrets. When I was in grade school, I was the daughter who snooped around in closets before Christmas, trying to find out what my presents were, before Mom had time to get them wrapped. Maybe that’s why I love to read romance so much. I can enjoy the story – all the ups and downs, the tears and laughter, breakups and black moments – without anxiety, because I know the end is always happily-ever-after.

So, the wait is finally over. Today is October 1st and I’m kicking off a month-long contest with the unveiling of Winter’s Magic:

Back Cover Blurb

Owner of La Bella Vita, a five-star day spa nestled in the affluent suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, Beth Sergeant knows her elite clientele first hand. She attended their private schools. She was even engaged, although briefly, to one of their most recognized bachelors. But she never fit in to their social-elite world.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. When he chooses to socialize, he has a never-ending list of exclusive events and beautiful women vying for his attention. Yet he never lets himself forget that everyone has an agenda.

Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and accepts an invitation to dinner, despite her deep-seated insecurities. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Did you catch that? There’s a secret!

But I’m not going to tell you what it is.

I can’t.

I won’t.

No matter how hard it is to keep it inside, I have to make you wait until October 24th, when Winter’s Magic goes on-sale, so you can read the book, meet Beth and Nick, and experience their story first-hand.

In the mean time, I’m hosting a fantastic contest. All you have to do is follow my blog or like my Facebook page (you receive an entry for each) and you’re automatically entered in the drawing.

The prizes? I CAN tell you what those are: 5 copies of my ebook, a $25 Visa GC, and a $50 Visa GC. Oh, and of course lots of swag. (If your name is drawn and you’ve already purchased my ebook, I’ll give you one copy of any ebook from the Soul Mate Publishing website.) (MCC aside: Pick mine, if you’ve already bought Cindy’s!)

But that’s not all. Join me at my launch party, November 2nd from 3pm – 6pm EST, on Facebook.  We’ve got lots of games lined up – each with more great prizes. And at the end of the launch party, we’ll announce the winners of the October drawing.

MCC: And now that I’ve made you wait, are you ready for the cover? Here goes?

So, tell me – Do you peek or wait?