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.

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16 thoughts on “Down, But Not Out…Yet”

    1. Aw, thanks Casey!

      It was a tough couple of weeks, but things are getting better every day. I should be getting edits soon, which will take me out of the writing game again, but hopefully soon I’ll be back to writing! I miss it…a lot!

  1. Sheesh, you always have more fun than you deserve. I’m so glad to hear you’re doing much better and that you’re all bling’d out with a new stylish zipper scar, which you totally should have had them pierce in some diamond studs along the way while they were at it. Continue to take care of YOU…the other stuff will take care of itself until you’re once again the reigning Dancing Queen. H.U.G.S.

    1. Miz Jude, you are right! I am a veritable party animal…And with the amount I’ll have to pay for said new zipper, it should be studded with diamonds! Dang it… If only I’d thought to ask!

  2. That is the most horrible experience I’ve ever heard, and should be related to every medical student. I’m so glad to know you survived this ordeal because I’m sure you must have thought you wouldn’t and I know there were times you not only didn’t care but didn’t want to. oy. Yes, this is worse than childbirth!

    1. Thanks Sandra.

      Yes, it was horrible, and yes, there were a couple of times I must have said, “I want to die,” because I remember husband saying, “This will pass. It always does. It will pass.”

      Poor man–I put him through so much. And to think, he got me a lovely coat (cop husband researched princess seams!)–and all he got was a bill for my new body zippers and my really pricey cab ride. (They get that stuff out fast!)

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