Sunday, October 25, 2009

Interoffice Communications

Early this afternoon, an email went out to all employees in my company. It stated simply, "CPI for the period in question is less than 1%." Some puzzlement, followed by a brief period of wondering what it was supposed to mean consumed perhaps five or ten minutes, then we all went about our business.

An hour later, a second email went out to all employees:

"As much as I’m sure you all care deeply about the Consumer Price Index, the e-mail was meant for the Syracuse office. Sorry."

Thirty seconds later, the entire floor rang with laughter.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Notes from CLE

* A woman just walked in, sat down at my table, took a can of nuts out of her satchel, and has spent several minutes struggling to open it. Having finally succeeded, she is now eating them with the steady intensity of a chain smoker.

* It sure seems that there are a lot of weird lawyers. Do you think it's because the practice of law
attracts weird people, or do you think that the practice of law makes people weird?

*The lecture started 90 minutes ago, yet the microphone has already stopped working four times. I would be totally irritated if I were the lecturer.

* The speaker has mentioned several times that he lived in Germany, yet he pronounces "Daimler": "DAMM- ler".

* "As a lawyer, I don't get myself worked up about 5%, right? I mean, I work 8 hours, times $500, that's $4000. But I get only $160, well, then I think to myself maybe I should just go to McDonald's and work." Okay, first, huh?? And second, I somehow doubt you've ever worked a day at McDonald's in your life if you think switching from being a lawyer to cleaning the fryers and assembling Egg McMuffins is desirable under any circumstances. And finally, you are also insane if you think that a McDonald's worker is going to earn $160 in 8 hours.

* The speaker tells a very long story about this Louis Vuitton handbag his wife wanted and the whole point of the story is: "HOLY CRAP, those things are expensive." For this, I am getting CLE credit. What this has to do with the practice of law, I don't really know, but I am getting CLE credit.

* The guy a few rows up keeps scooting around in his chair, whipping his head around to see who's behind him in the room, whispers to his neighbor (who, by the way, doesn't seem to be very happy about it), heaves giant, dramatic sighs, leans his head alllllll the way back, and generally is acting like a bored eight year old. This would be irritating enough if we were watching a videocast or if this were a taped session being re-broadcast. However, this is a live speaker, and it's not like we're in a giant lecture hall where he might (MIGHT!) escape notice. How very rude.

* Another anecdote uses the example of Target and Macy's, with the claim being made that Target is able to offer its wares for a lower price than Macy's because "Target doesn't spend money on fancy advertisements". Dude, do you get the same TV channels as I do? Because Target is constanty airing these sleek, cool-looking advertisements, and I can't even think of the last time I saw a Macy's commercial. I'm sure they exist, but I haven't seen one recently, and I have seen a whole bunch of Target commercials.

* The Nut Nibbler has apparently finished the entire can of nuts, because now she's taken out a nail file and is giving herself a very thorough manicure. Every few minutes, she stops to brush the nail dust off the table in front of her. And still, it doesn't seem to occur to her that a) that's incredibly irritating to everyone around her, and b) it's also completely disgusting.

* Oh, we've moved to subprime lending now. "A McDonald's worker walks into a bank, makes about $26,000 a year..." OK, now I know you've never worked at McDonald's.

* You know, way back at the beginning of today's lecture, they asked that everyone turn off their Blackberries and cell phones. We've been here two hours so far, and of the 17 people sitting in the four rows ahead of me, four are openly playing on their Blackberries, and one woman has hauled out a laptop and started typing away. Another woman is sleeping. Another woman is working on a very large needlepoint project. A man in the corner is paging through a book of crossword puzzles, and another man has hauled out a very large file that he appears to be working in. Cell phones have rang at least five times so far. The owner stands up and hurries through the room toward the door, but doesn't quite reach it before answering, "Hello?" By the way, since I started writing this down, the number of Blackberry users has increased by two.

* Actually, I think I should have said that there are a lot of gross lawyers earlier. Nut Nibbler has finished her manicure, but the guy in the row ahead of her keeps scratching his head, then checking to see what's under his fingernails.

* I just love it when a shop posts a sign announcing some inconvenient policy by claiming that it's for your convenience. For example, the shop in the lobby of the building-- a sort of deli/ newstand/ convenience store combo-- has a sign on the cash register stating "For your convenience, we accept only cash. Credit cards and debit cards are accepted under no circumstances." I can't possibly be the only person who uses her card for everything and rarely carries cash. I use cash so seldom that I can often go weeks at a time without having any in my wallet. Nothing whatsoever about your "Cash Only" policy is convenient to me at all. I'm sure it's convenient to you, since it means you don't have to pay the card company fees-- and I totally understand that and support your decisions. But don't try to frame it as though it's just one more service you offer to your valued customers. Also, just so you know, since I now have to leave the building to get cash, I'll probably just buy my drink and snack somewhere else where I can use my card.

* Back in the lecture. Mr. Iswearidon'thavelice has stopped scratching his head and is now tapping his finger against the leg of his chair very hard, producing a small metallic clank each time.

* Did you know who bears the whole blame for the mortgage crisis? Alan Greenspan. And in the future, everyone will curse his name because of the evil he has caused. Wow, that is some hyperbole.

* Whoops
. He must have realized that it's not pronounced "DAMM-ler". Now he's pronouncing it "DAMM- lear"

* The woman with the needlepoint finished the first project and started another.

* The longer this lecture goes on, the less attention the audience pays. Another twenty minutes and someone's probably going to take a cell phone call sitting right at the table.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Not Something You See Every Day

Walking down a busy street near the university, I pass a group of six monks walking on the opposite side. I wonder where they are off to, in their brown robes and sandals. I wonder where they came from.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This is so very cool:

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Worm Turns, Act III

And this is the part where time begins to blur.
Align Center
* Nurse Bates refuses to bring me pain meds until she gets a new order from the surgeon because the surgical ward does not stock Fentanyl. This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Can't they send someone downstairs to get it? I really regret declining the pain meds earlier.

* Several more tubes of blood are collected, but by now I am so dazed and in so much pain that I don't have the energy to express the panic and fear.

*Every single person I've seen, and I have probably seen 10 or 15 people in the first half hour or so on the ward, has read my bracelet, scanned the bar code on it, and asked me to confirm my name and tell them my date of birth. I am annoyed because I am so tired and in so much pain, but I recognize that this is a very good thing and comply as nicely as I am capable of being at this point. In retrospect, I now think this was really cool and I'm glad the hospital I was in used this technology, because at least to my untrained eye, it seems like it would significantly reduce the chance of a medical error being made.

*Ash attempts to call into work. Several calls to 411 result in a series of transfers to places that have no discernible connection to his workplace. He calls a friend of ours to ask him to Google it for us. Ro answers groggily, and we remember somewhat belatedly that he is on vacation... in a different time zone. Oops. He offers to try and find the number anyway. We feel like idiots.

* Eight o'clock arrives. I was told I'd be on my way to appendix-less by now, and yet here I am, still waiting for my pain meds. I think terrible thoughts about Nurse Bates.

* Ash offers to turn the room TV on several times, but the thought of having the TV running makes me feel inexplicably anxious and panicky. I am torn between my urgent need for something to distract me from my pain and fear, and my overloaded system's utter inability to deal with one more stimulus.

* Ash deems it late enough to call my mother. He gets her voicemail and leaves a message containing no information whatsoever except that she should call him as soon as possible.

* I call into work. My boss does not answer his phone, so I leave a message and consider my duty done. I also text my friends at work because I know that my manager does not bother to listen to voicemail on a regular basis and will probably wander over around 10:30 to ask if anyone knows where I am. The longer I sit in bed, the more people I realize we need to call. I rack my pain-addled brain, trying to remember what I would have had on my schedule at work for the day. Is there anyone who is going to freak out because I don't do something for them today? Was there anything on deadline? I make Ash call my newly-assigned mentor at work to let him know that I won't be showing up for our "stop up once you've had some coffee" meeting. I am preoccupied with concern that he will think I am blowing him off. I do not want to blow this chance to learn from some one on our executive team (and maybe, possibly, earn a promotion). In retrospect, I realize this is one of the more ludicrous thoughts to cross my mind, but at the time, it is absolutely in my Top Ten List of Things I Can't Stop Worrying About.

* The one hard and fast rule of our marriage thus far has been this:


I am forced to break this rule because the pain makes it too difficult to walk without assistance, and my bladder is juuuuuuust about to burst. It is a measure of how very bad things are that I meekly accept the loss of my very valued bathroom privacy without complaint.

* As Ash is helping me take care of business, his cell phone rings. And rings again. Then my cell phone rings. As I finally make it back to the haven of my hospital bed, it rings again, and I answer to find my mother sobbing hysterically. She has made the logical leap from "Hi, it's Ash. Please call me as soon as possible" to "Your daughter is dead and I didn't want to leave it in a voicemail". The fact that I am clearly alive enough to answer a cell phone doesn't seem to get through for a few minutes. When she calms down a little, she keeps asking me in what I perceive to be a vaguely accusatory tone, "How did this happen?" It's a question that will nag at the back of my brain for the next several days, but I will not get an answer until I get home and can look it up online. I finally have to hand the phone over to Ash, because I am in too much pain to try and have a conversation, and my mom clearly needs someone who can give her some information. I feel bad that I've worried her, and I feel angry that she's getting so upset. I know this isn't fair, so I also feel guilty for feeling angry.

* Nurse Bates finally shows up with my pain meds... no, scratch that. She shows up with *a* pain med-- Dilaudid. You know, the one I asked not to be given because of the severe side effects I suffered the last time I was given it. She wants nothing to do with my objections, because apparently it's a major problem for her to have to deal with patients (or at least this is what her demeanor leads me to believe). She grudgingly allows that she could call the doctor and ask him to prescribe something else, but it will take awhile. I've been waiting for pain meds for nearly four hours by now, and the pain has escalated to the point where it feels like a red hot iron spike has been driven straight through my abdomen into the bed. I don't know if I can wait much longer for relief, so I give in and allow her to administer the Dilaudid.

This was a massive mistake.

A strange cold feeling starts to spread across my chest and with it, the feeling that I cannot make the muscles of my chest move, which makes me feel like I am dying. Not suffocating, but literally experiencing my own death. This is a terrible feeling, and just as frightening as it had been the first time I was given Dilaudid (when no one warned me that this might happen). Nurse Bates doesn't stick around to see what happens to me, just leaves the room without a word to me. I hate her so very much.

* Various people come and go in the hallway, but no one comes into my room. The Dilaudid has done nothing to take the edge off the pain. I shift in the bed continuously, trying to find the magic placement of limbs and body to relieve what has now started to feel like a sharp, jagged piece of concrete stuck inside me.

* After an hour goes by, I press the call button and ask for more pain meds. The voice at the other end says the nurse will stop in. We wait. And wait. And wait. I keep checking the clock, hoping to see that the magic time of It's-Time-To-Take-You-To-The-OR o'clock, or at least You-Can-Have-Some-More-Pain-Meds a.m. has been reached. Somehow, no significant time has passed. I feel like I'm stuck inside the Calvin and Hobbes strip where he thinks an hour has gone by, but it's really only been 20 seconds.

* I am plagued by thoughts of the scene in The Stand where Mark dies of appendicitis while Stu tries to perform an appendectomy. Unable to divert my own attention, I decide to share this appealing thought with Ash, who laughs and tells me that he's been thinking about the same thing. I am really glad that, if I HAD to get appendicitis, it wasn't in a post-Captain Trips world.

* Ash is probably getting sick of my thrashing around in bed and incessant repetition of variations on "I hurt and I'm scared". But he is far more patient than I could ever have expected him to be, especially since he's still trying to read some cases for work and hasn't slept. I am ashamed to admit that I probably could not have been so patient in the same circumstances. Lack of sleep makes me cranky.

* Speaking of cranky, lack of food also makes me cranky. The anti-nausea medication has done its job, and the food cart is sitting outside my room. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. All signs point to tears over my lack of breakfast. Yet I don't even think about it until much later. I am, however, very thirsty, and there is no water for a woman waiting to be taken to surgery. "Luckily", the pain has continued to progress. I actually start to be afraid to move, not sure if my fear that I'll cause my own appendix to burst by shifting my weight is irrational.

* Finally, a whole group of people turn up to take me to the OR. Two of them take hold of the sheets and hoist me onto a gurney using the sheets like a sling. I am simultaneously impressed with their strength and relieved that I don't have to try and roll or otherwise move my body under my own steam, because I am almost positive that I could not do so for any reason. Ash is permitted to follow along for the first part of the journey. The orderly who is pushing the gurney apologizes every time we hit a bump, and I concentrate hard on not screaming when we go over the uneven entrance to the elevator lobby. The OR is a very long trip from the surgical unit. This seems very strange to me, but I have no frame of reference in these matters.

* At the doors to the Pre-op Unit, Ash is gently told that he can't go any further. My heart starts to pound and the tears finally start to roll because I am so terrified that something will go wrong and I will never see him again. The thought of leaving him behind just breaks my heart. He is a rock. Nothing in his voice or demeanor gives away the fact that he is also freaking out. He just repeats the mantra of the morning: it's routine, this will be fine, no problem, don't worry, everything will be fine, there's nothing to this. Flat on my back, I can't even catch a last glimpse as the doors swing shut behind me.

* The pre-op room reminds me of a Fisher Price parking garage for some insane reason. People are laying on gurneys at stations around the perimeter of the room while nurses and doctors pass to and fro, asking questions and doing various pre-op things. I can tell by the conversations going on at nearby stations that some people waiting for surgery are awake and alert and not in pain. This seems unbelieveably unfair to me, since I still have not had a new dose of pain meds. I wonder if this is like a doctor's office, where you wait until your name is called and the doctor is ready to see you. I also wish that I could sit up and watch what is going on around me, because I bet it's fascinating. This is really a futile wish, because even if they would let me sit up to watch, I absolultely could not do it. Not for love or money.

* A blonde nurse with a plump, kind face comes over to fill out a chart with some questions on it. It is starting to get hard to talk now because I am in so much pain. I can't remember anything about our conversation except that she brushes my hair from my forehead and smiles at me while she fills out her paperwork.

* A very tall redhaired man comes up right after the blonde nurse walks away. He introduces himself, asks two or three questions, and bustles off. He isn't gone two minutes before I've forgotten who he is and what he does.

* Another very tall man comes up and introduces himself as the somethingsomething, and he guestures at the young blonde woman behind him, introducing her as his assistant. I feel that he should really pull a rabbit out of a top hat at this point, and am struck by the insane urge to ask him if he plans to saw me in half.

* I lay on the gurney alone for a little while, listening to the conversations around me. Listening to the medical jabber, I wonder if they're talking about me. I wonder what's going to happen next. I wonder how long my surgery will take. I wonder if Ash is scared. I wonder if I will go home the next day, or if they'll make me leave earlier. I wonder who I should ask for answers, but I am in no shape to listen to any answers anyway, so I just listen and wait. I feel like a car waiting for an oil change.

* A large man with white hair pops up next to me, seemingly out of nowhere and it's the surgeon and he's got a really thick accent and charming manner that immediately makes me want to smile. He pokes and asks questions that take me a moment to process because I am so busy trying to place his accent. Definitely not German or French or Italian or Spanish, I don't think it's Russian, but I can't think of what it is. His last name is not something I can identify the origin of, though in a strange coincidence, it is the same as one of my father's childhood buddies. I wonder if they are related, but I doubt it. Still, stranger things have happened, and... oops, I should probably be paying attention here. He pokes my chicken pox scar, the one right above my belly button and asks if it's "maybe from a lap-a-ra-scope-y? maybe from a long time earlier"? I whisper, "No, it's from the chicken pox", and he lets out a loud belly laugh. I am irrationally pleased that I have made this charming old man laugh. The surgeon gives some instructions to kindfaced blonde nurse and leaves the room.

* I am wheeled across the room, though a short hallway filled with scrub sinks (just like on Scrubs!), and into what is clearly the OR. It is much smaller than I imagined. I am still fully clothed and wonder if they are going to shave any part of me right now. Once again, I am manhandled onto what I think is the table by means of the sheet, except I quickly discover that in fact, it is just a hard board, because approximately eight hands take hold of me and slide me over onto a very cold table with one quick movement. Even more people are filing into the room through another door, and my gurney is wheeled away to make room for them. I wonder what they are all there for. No one has said a single word to me or made eye contact since the funny surgeon left. I am torn between fear of the unknown and an ever-growing need to make the pain stop by any means necessary.

* The blonde assistant reappears at my head. She holds a clear plastic mask in her hand and says "This is oxygen to help you breath. Just breathe normally." She places it over my nose and mouth and it is rigid and I can't breathe and I start to tell her and she LIED about what was in that mask because with that, I am utterly unconscious.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Worm Turns, Act II

2:00 a.m. Ash pulls into one of the ambulance spots. Wonder if I should point this out. Decide they probably won't tow in the few minutes it will take me to get inside. I care infinitely more about getting inside than I do about a possible ticket or tow.

2:02 a.m.: I weigh how much???

2:03 a.m.: Sit in wheelchair for probably the first time in my life. Every bump in the floor sends a new wave of nausea skittering across my body. Hunch over and hold my stomach tightly, because this makes me feel marginally less likely to toss whatever might still remain of my cookies.

2:04 a.m.: Nice nurse takes my vitals and hands me what I presume is supposed to be an emesis basin, except that instead of being a basin, it's a long plastic tube that reminds me of a giant blue condom. Like for an elephant, maybe.

2:10 a.m.: In a hospital gown, but kept my comfy pants on. No bare butts for me! Also kept on socks. Should have worn something cuter than white footies. Clearly, this is impairing my fashion sense. Nausea still rolling over me in waves, but at least I don't feel so panicked now.

2:13 a.m.: Nice Nurse, whose name I've already forgotten, comes back to take some blood and insert an IV. Ash gamely tries to distract me from the freaky needles and the blood and the fact that they are sticking those freaky needles into me and my very own blood is dripping out of my vein. He is not very successful. Still, it was a valiant effort on his part.

2:17 a.m.: Need to use my gaint blue condom emesis "basin".

2:18 a.m.: What do I do with it now? Don't want Ash to have to touch it. That seems like more than a husband should have to do. Nice Nurse is off doing other nurse-y things. Don't know where a call button is, and don't think I should use it for something so small while in an emergency room anyway.

2:30 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful pops into my room to discuss my symptoms. He performs a physical exam, pressing on various areas. When he pokes the part around my navel, where I've been experiencing pain for a couple of hours, it hurts.

2:31 a.m.: No, wait. That didn't hurt. That was just a little discomfort, like when you bump your shin lightly into your cat. Because when he poked me down around my right hip, it hurt so bad I yelped and jackknifed up.

2:32 a.m.: Physical exam concludes with Dr. Cheerful manipulating my body into a couple of yoga-like poses, then poking. This stikes me as funny for some reason. If I didn't feel so awful, I would have giggled.

2:33 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful says, and I quote, "Hmmmm."

2:34 a.m.: Apparently I could have gallstones. But maybe I've got appendicitis. Or maybe it's something else altogether. Better run some more tests.

2:40 a.m.: Nurse Nice reappears to administer some drugs now that Dr. Cheerful has kindly ordered them. We discuss my very bad experience with Dilaudid. Would not make a good junkie, apparently. Nurse Nice says Dr. Cheerful gave her a couple of choices of pain medication in the same class, and suggests we try a different one. Apparently some people react badly to one and not to another.

2:41 a.m.: Oh, Fentanyl. You are so very much better than Dilaudid. Sweet relief.

2:42 a.m.: Ash makes the first of many jokes referencing Edgar Allen Poe and William Burroughs.

2:43 a.m.: Ash and Nurse Nice debate whether I should hope for gallstones or hope for appendicitis. I'm not sure I want to hope for either, but I also don't want to find out that I've made a mountain out of a molehill. But that doesn't mean I want to have surgery either. Nurse Nice states decisively that she'd take the appendicitis over the gallstones. I don't like the sound of that-- what makes gallstones worse than appendicitis? The treatment? The possible complications? The recovery period? The chances of successful treatment? If it weren't for the Fentanyl, I'd probably be freaking out right now.

2:45 a.m.: Oh, anti-emetic that I didn't hear the name of. You are my second-best friend, but only because Fentanyl made the bad pain go bye bye. We should all hang out together tonight.

2:49 a.m.: Some guy down the hall has turned on the TV and, from the sound of it, is trying to share the program with everyone else in the ER.

3:10 a.m.: An orderly comes to take me to CT. He looks like he's here in between rides with his buddies in the Patriot Guard Riders

3:11 a.m.: Stretcher ride through the hospital corridors is not as much fun as you might think. Acoustic ceiling tiles whip by dizzyingly.It's cold. Every bump dents my Fentanyl armor a little bit. Also, I do not want to make awkward small talk with the orderly because I feel so crappy, and then I feel guilty because I'm sure he's a very nice man and he's trying to be friendly and reassuring to me. So I try to make awkward small talk anyway.

3:13 a.m.: Biker Orderly rolls me onto my side so that I can be slid onto the board for the CT. My attempts to help only make matters more difficult, and the CT guy tells me to" pretend to be a log" -- this is easier said than done.

3:15 a.m.: CT scans are weird. Am I supposed to keep my eyes shut? What would happen if I opened them? The computer voice tells me to "Breathe in", then commands "Hold your breath." The problem is, it hurts to breathe in, so I'm not quite ready when the command to hold it comes up. What if that screws up the image? What if that makes them miss something important.

3:20 a.m.: Biker Orderly moves me back to the stretcher. On the way out of the department, he stops at a warming cabinet and brings me a toasty blanket. The CT rooms are very cold, and I've started to shiver. He noticed and cared enough to do something. I am really touched.

3:25 a.m.: That guy down the hall is arguing with the Nice Nurse and a doctor, presumably Dr. Cheerful. Apparently, he disagrees with them that there is nothing wrong with him and wants to be admitted RIGHT NOW.

3:27 a.m.: The guy down the hall continues to argue even though, as the entire ER can now hear, his test results have all been normal.

3:29 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful is holding fast. No more tests, no more treatments, time for this guy to go home and follow up with his doctor in the morning.

3:30 a.m.: That guy finally breaks down and agrees to leave, if they'll give him some drug I don't recognize. I don't hear the response, but wonder how doctors and nurses deal with idiots like this. TV has been blaring the entire time, necessitating the loud voices used by the doctor and the nurse-- there's only so much sound these partitions can block.

3:40 a.m.: TV switches off.

3:42 a.m.: The guy down the hall shuffles past toward the exit. He is morbidly obese and wearing a plaid bathrobe. He complains loudly the entire way down the hall. I would love to know the backstory there.

3:55 a.m.: Ash and I ponder whether this is going to be the first sunrise we've ever seen together. The fact that he is not a morning person is one of his more endearing qualities, if you ask me. I find the thought that we might experience our first sunrise from the confines of an emergency room incredibly amusing.

3:56 a.m.: Ash ruins my fun by recalling that we have, in fact, seen the sunrise together once before.

4:10 a.m.: Dr. Cheerful enters the room and perkily announces, "Guess what! You get to have your appendix out this morning!"

4:11 a.m.: Oh God.

4: 12 a.m.: Apparently, I shouldn't worry because if I'm lucky, Dr. Cutter will do it laparoscopically. If that's the better way to do it, why would any surgeon do it the other way? Why don't I get to tell the surgeon that I want it done that way?

4:13 a.m.: Nurse Nice stops in to check my vitals and tells me that they're going to have me admitted as soon as they can get a room for me upstairs. Ash asks how soon they will do the surgery and she says it will probably be pretty early-- maybe 7 or 8 a.m.

4:14 a.m.: Oh God.

4:15 a.m.: Nurse Nice leaves. I look at Ash and tearily mumble, "I've never even been in the hospital before." Ash staunchly points out that this is routine. No big deal, they do hundreds of these a year, if not thousands or millions. Nothing, really.

4:16 a.m.: Tell Ash that we should probably call into work. He laughs.

4:20 a.m.: Ash brought a big binder of work with him, and he's been trying to read all night. I did not bring anything with me because I was too distraught and sick. Right now, I wish I had something like a magazine, or something else light and amusing to distract me. Ash offers me his "leisure reading". I decline.

4:30 a.m.: Fentanyl, why are you leaving me? Did I say something wrong? Please don't go and leave me here with this pain!

4:45 a.m.: Nice Nurse arrives with a new dose. Thank heaven. She also tops off the anti-emetic and tells me they're waiting for a room.

4: 55 a.m.: I cannot stop interrupting Ash's reading to ask for reassurance. He valiantly refrains from biting my head off.

5:15 a.m.: I have been awake for nearly 24 hours, and I am pumped full of very strong drugs. But I cannot sleep, not even a little. I keep worrying about having someone cut me open, then I worry about staying in the hospital. I wonder how long I'll be in? They send you home after a couple of days when you have a C-section, right? And that involves really slicing you open, so if they do this one laparasopically, probably I'll be out the next day. That seems logical.

5:30 a.m.: Nice Nurse stops by to check my vitals and start a bag full of antibiotics. Burns, burns, burns, BURNSBURNSBURNS.

6:00 a.m.: The sky is slowly turning from black to blue, and the drugs are not really working anymore. Nice Nurse tells me I'll be going upstairs any minute, so I decide to wait until I get to the room. Besides, I'll probably be going to surgery really soon and then they'll pull out the big guns from the pharmacy.

6:15 a.m.: Still waiting. Fifteen minutes have never been so long.

6:20 a.m.: I want the drugs. But the orderly is here to take me to the surgical ward. I don't get the chance to say goodbye to Nice Nurse.

6:21 a.m.: Why are the hospital floors so bumpy?

6:22 a.m.: Remember back when tiny little video cameras became readily available, so every late night talk show came up with a "[fill-in-the-blank]-cam"? And the audience would howl with laughter at shaky video with odd perspectives? Laying flat on my back, watching the ceiling tiles fly by feels a lot like watching "stretcher-cam" footage.

6:25 a.m.: They want me to scoot myself from the stretcher into the bed. Suuuuure, I'll do that for you. Oh, you're serious??

6:26 a.m.: The nurse taking care of me up here is NOT nice. In fact, I will call her Nurse Bates, as in Kathy Bates, because I can't remember the name of the crazy nurse that she played in Misery. She is brusque and rough and leaves without bringing me the drugs I've asked for several times, or even mentioning when she will be back with them.

6:31 a.m.: Ash points out the window. The sky is pink and gold. The dawn of my last day with all my organs.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Worm Turns, Act I


Sunday, August 9, 2009

10:00 p.m.: Arrive at home after teaching a very satisfactory class, fall straight into bed.

11:30 p.m.: Wake up in a cold sweat, feeling vaguely disoriented.

11:35 p.m.: Ash comes to bed. The jostling of his climb into bed breaks loose a wave of nausea and I run for the bathroom.

11:55 p.m.: I want to lay down on the cool tile of our bathroom floor and wait for the nausea to pass or for the inevitable to happen.

11:56 p.m.: Our bathroom floor is disgusting. When is the last time someone swept the floor in here?

11:57 p.m.: Move to the hallway floor in front of the bathroom. Better because it's clean. Worse because hardwood is not as cool as tile. Stomach cramps are making the nausea worse. Getting to the point of actually wanting to puke, but not quite there yet.

11:59 p.m.: Worry that Ash will get up to find out if I'm okay and accidentally step on me. Move to floor of Ash's office, next to the bathroom.

12:02 a.m.: Carpet is too warm. Fan is not on and room is too stuffy. Fan is also too far away to consider turning on. Think about moving back to the bathroom floor. Remember gross dust bunnies. Stay put.

12:15 a.m.: Please, God, let me puke. At least I'll feel better then.

12:30 a.m.: I do not feel better. That is very strange. You always feel better after you puke, even if you're going to puke again later.

12:35 a.m.: Bathroom floor not so bad. Want to die.

12:39 a.m.: Reassure Ash that I've just got some stupid bug. I'll be back to bed in a little while when my stomach settles down.

12:50 a.m.: Getting worried now. Consult Dr. Google. Get a lot of mumbo jumbo about stomach flu. This feels much worse than any stomach bug I've ever had.

1:10 a.m.: Take temperature. 99.6 is not exactly a raging fever. Is that good? Don't you usually get a fever with a stomach bug? If so, does that mean the lack of a fever is bad? Perhaps I can return to Dr. Google's office for a follow-up consultation if I just lay here on the nice, cool tile for a minute.

1:30 a.m.: Wake Ash up. Not sure what I think he's going to do, but I need a cooler head here. No, the pain isn't on the right side. No, I'm not running a fever. OK, sweetie, you're probably right, it's just a stomach bug. I'm going to go lay in the bathroom again for awhile.

1:32 a.m.: Being sick in the middle of the night suuuuuuucks. Hopefully this stomach bug will be gone by morning. Guess I'll have to call in. Maybe I can just take a half day and sleep a little later.

1:34 a.m.: How can I be this nauseous and not throw up?

1:36 a.m.: Also? The stomach cramps are awful. What on earth is UP with this? AND my back is killing me.

1:38 a.m.: What if this isn't the stomach flu? Wonder what the symptoms of appendicitis are?

1:39 a.m.: Pain starting around the navel-- CHECK. Fever-- nope. Pain migrates to right side-- well, not yet, but who knows what will happen later? Back pain? CHECK. Nausea-- CHECK. Vomiting-- CHECK.

1:40 a.m.: Oh God.

1:41 a.m.: Naaaaaaaaw. Who actually ends up with the illnesses that they find by Dr. Google? No one, that's who.

1:42 a.m.: Oh God.

1:43 a.m.: Maybe I should just wait until morning and see how this goes. I mean, really, I cannot go the emergency room just to be told "You've got a stomach bug. Go home, drink lots of fluids, get some rest."

1:44 p.m.: Oh God.

1:45 p.m.: OK, seriously, I've got to get some perspective. Am I overreacting here? WHY does this stuff always happen in the middle of the night? Should I wake up Ash? Gah, he's got to work in the morning, I'd better let him sleep.

1:46 p.m.: The tile isn't cold enough anymore.

1:48 p.m.: This carpet is too warm.

1:50 p.m.: Oh God.

1:51 p.m.: Re-read symptoms. Oh God.

1:52 p.m.: Wake up Ash. Insist that he join me for a consultation with Dr. Google. Ash wearily agrees. The skepticism is rolling off of him in waves, but he offers to take me to the ER if I think it's necessary.

1:54 p.m.: We throw on some clothes. I have the foresight to wear my softest elastic waistband pants. I do not have the foresight to put my headband back on to keep my hair out of my sweaty face. This will drive me crazy in the very near future. Ash waits for me to lace my shoes, which is difficult, what with the nasty pain in my stomach. I grab a bucket from the bathroom on the way out. You know, just in case. God, please don't let me have to use it.

1:55 p.m.: Can't make it down the stairs. Wait on bench in front of the building for Ash to pull the car around. Hurts to sit. Hurts to stand. This sucks.

1:56 p.m.: Ash asks me which hospital I want to go to. Who cares? THE ONE THAT'S MAYBE A MILE AWAY. How about that one? Ash hits the gas and we're off.