Thursday, November 08, 2012

Well, now we know

So much has happened since October 25, back when we were young. The Giants won the World Series; a scary storm ravaged the East Coast; we set the clocks back; we reelected our lovely president. We also had Halloween, about which I care not at all, but I don't want you to be distracted thinking, "Hey! What about Halloween?"

And yet, I spent most of that time asleep. From time to time, I would be awake for a couple of hours, during which time I forced myself to drink gallons of water. Remember poison stomach? Yeah. Me too.

It's funny to look back and realize that I wrote about poison stomach on Thursday of that week and then Friday night at 8:30, I was suddenly doubled over in pain. "Wow." I thought, "That poison stomach is really not messing around. I guess I shouldn't have eaten that slice of pizza. I'll get some Tums on my way home." Have you ever needed Tums and been literally unable to hold yourself upright due to crippling pain? No, me neither. And yet, I was totally committed to this Tums theory even though I could barely drive the car. I will spare you the long version of Walgreens trip. It involved a lot of nausea, weird limping, shallow breathing, and sitting on the floor of the store. You know what didn't ultimately alleviate any of my symptoms? Tums.

The drugstore errand was sufficiently harrowing that when I got home I looked up "appendicitis" online and, having established that the pain was on the wrong side, I came to the end of my list of medical theories which looked like this:
1. Gas
2. Appendicitis
So, I settled in for several hours of writhing and keening and rocking back and forth and vomiting. It was novel. I'll give it that. Finally, at 2:30am, I called the advice nurse who told me to call the doctor on call. I was embarrassed to bother the doctor at 2:30am, but made the call. She suggested that I should go to the emergency room. I suggested that maybe I should try Alka Seltzer. She said she doubted that would really help, which was too bad because it seemed a lot easier than going to the hospital.

This is perhaps the main reason that living alone is maybe not such a great idea: you might need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. I may get married this week, in fact, just to ensure that someone is around in case this ever happens again. Neighbors seem like a good Plan B, but there are just three apartments in my building. One of them is currently vacant and my remaining neighbors were out of the country. (Was this karmic payback for being so delighted that they were going? Possibly. Just kidding, neighbors. I'm not excited about your baby, but could you please come back and drive me to the ER? But maybe in a few minutes? Right now I can't actually get off the floor.) The doctor had suggested that I take a taxi. I pretended that that was an option, though my real reaction was "yeah, right." Have you ever tried to get a taxi in San Francisco? It's not one of the things we do all that well. I lay there for another couple of hours running through the "who can I call at this hour?" emergency list and finally settled on a colleague who I knew lives very nearby. She was out of town, as it happened, but her very kind husband came to fetch me at 4:30 in the morning and took me, clutching my trusty vomit-receptacle trashcan, to the emergency room.

The wait was not so very long and though I was in agony, I was at least no longer in agony while simultaneously trying to figure out how to get from bed to the hospital, so that was reassuring. Once I was in a room and in a gown, the doctor deduced almost immediately that I had a kidney stone. This made me laugh, which puzzled him. "I don't know." I told him. "It's just not something I ever imagined having." The tech said, "It looks like you're doing the kidney stone dance all right." (Make a note of that. It might be a big sensation in the clubs, if that's your scene.) Meanwhile, he was helpfully prepping me for an IV and, just when I thought I might actually die, he hooked me up to dilaudid and my life improved by about 1000% in 20 seconds. (I haven't worked out all the details of my plan to get married this week, but that guy is at the top of the list of candidates. Thank you, kind sir.)

Now it's twelve days later and it's still lodged in there somewhere, unimpressed by the deluge of fluids I have consumed, so I take a narcotic painkiller every six hours and look forward to some future day when I'm no longer so sleepy all the time.

Meanwhile, the moral is, if you feel like you have to crawl to get from one part of the room to the other and no position gives you any relief from the sensation that someone is stabbing you in your lower back, Tums is probably not the answer. There's no need to wait eight hours to go to the emergency room. Just go. What? You can take a taxi.