Saturday, June 22, 2013

Attack of the Appendix, and Other Hospital Tales

Let me lay the scene out for you:
I had been in the hospital for over three hours with an excruciating pain in my side.  The pain was so severe that I had already vomited several times, both in the waiting room, and in the smaller room they place you to wait some more.  Granted, it was a pretty busy day at the ER, we saw sick children, a pregnant mother who came in sobbing and did not stop--her cries could be heard fading away as they led her into the back--a bloody homeless man, a whole family (in which the mother indicated she had "severe pain" of her skin on one side, yet I literally saw her skipping through the waiting area at one point) her daughter would screech from one end of the waiting room to the other, a man with a guitar and no apparent ailment passing out business cards to the unfortunate, an older woman complaining of dehydration, and finally a couple who both appeared to be receiving treatment, the woman handcuffed and accompanied by a police officer.
A paramedic intern was finally called into the room (where I was kneeling on the bed, doubled over, my boyfriend hovering around me, rubbing my back, angry at how long everything was taking) to place an IV line and inject me with morphine.  She "blew through" the first vein she chose, meaning she passed the needle through the vein entirely, causing the blood from the vein to leak into the skin around it, which, on the outside, looks like a huge, nasty bruise.  I was in so much pain I barely even noticed.  The nurse helped set the next line, and soon morphine had taken over my system--the relief was sweet.
The doctor/surgeon ordered a CAT-scan (A side note about the scan--they pump iodine through your veins in order to see any infection more clearly, the iodine creates a warming sensation throughout your body, but especially in the pelvic area.  I legitimately thought I wet myself while being scanned). A nice, older lady came by to pick me up.  She was very thoughtful and attentive, and when she was wheeling me out of the room, she placed my wallet on the bed with me, "just in case!" she sang.
"You can leave the clothes" I said
"No one will steal those" she smiled.
"Hey! Those are some nice clothes!" I laughed
"I just doubt anyone around here is your same size, and shares your same style" she said, kindly.
"Oh, well, I guess that could be true" I let it be.
"Except for maybe, a beginning transgender".
EXCEPT FOR, MAYBE, A BEGINNING TRANSGENDER.  I am not sure what this means, and my only reply was a laugh, "ha".  This same lady, after I thanked her profusely for being so nice to me, went on to say, "who knows, you might be my next daughter-in-law!"
Yes, maybe.
The doctors were unsure as to what was causing my pain, but were closing in on "appendicitis".  I was not running a fever, and my white blood cell count had come back normal.  My body was not treating whatever was happening to me as an infection, which made the doctors wary of operating on me.  Furthermore, my CAT-scan had come back inconclusive.  There seemed to be some fluid surrounding my appendix, but as far as an infection was concerned, the scan did not show it.  All my other symptoms were consistent, however, and the surgeon eventually approached me with three options: operate, wait, or see if a round of antibiotics helped.  I chose to operate.
Luckily for me, I was experiencing an appendicitis, and the one side of my abnormally long and skinny appendix was indeed infected.  It was snip-snip! and then zip-zip! and I woke up in recovery.  I spent the night in the hospital, and the staff ensured that there was a pull-out couch in the room, and my bf spent the night as well.
I was discharged the next day, and then the next week was a haze of pain killers and a sore, unable-to-move body.
I am feeling much better now!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Orange, ORANGE!

       My family, being many mouths to clothe, feed, and house, was never rich.  Although we grew up in a fairly nice neighborhood, and my dad was always employed, my parents went to great lengths to save money—coupon clipping, no allowances, food bought in bulk, eating out was a rarity, and family “vacations” were never trips to Mexico, or flying across the country to see the Big Apple.  While “vacation” may not be the correct word, family trips were taken almost every summer.  We had cousins in California, Washington, and Idaho, and when the hotter months rolled around and school was out, the parents would pack their kids in their large, brown, 12-seater van (sometimes, if their were not enough seats to spare (before the seatbelt laws), a child would sit on the floor in between mom and dad’s captain chairs in the front of the vehicle), and head off down the highway.  
            Mom would wake us early in the morning (at around 4 or 5am) the day of the trip, and we would all wearily stumble into the van with our pillows and blankets dragging behind us, bags already packed and stacked in the back, seat assignments planned and handed out the night before.  Leaning up against windows and each other we would doze off, and wake up already bumping our way down the road to our destination. 
            Family trips, long and usually hot, were always pretty fun.  My mother, a cooler at her feet, would prepare sandwiches and snacks, passing them back with questions like, “who’s hungry?” or “who wants turkey, who wants ham?” Apples, and a knife would be produced, and she would cut away, whistling all the while.  This meant we always made great time, only stopping for gas (and you had better go to the bathroom while we were stopped at the station, because we would not stop again until the gas gauge indicated need). 
            For family road trips, my dad bought had purchased two large, 64-oz plastic jugs for soda.  These jugs were fastened to the seats with bungee cords, and pulled out at gas stations to be filled with pop.  My family, devout Mormons, could only drink soda that did not contain caffeine, so the options were limited: orange, root beer, and sprite.  Two, special children were chosen by father to carry the vessels into the convenience store, each to be filled with one of the designated flavors.  The other children, forced to stay in the car, would hang out the doors, or call through the window slits—the van had those wretched windows that only popped opened with frog handles, creating a small opening at the base of the window, barely wide enough for a child’s hand to feel the wind caress his skin, let alone get a blasted breeze going through the vehicle—yelling to the chosen ones what flavor they should bring back, “Orange, orange!” “ROOT BEER ROOT BEER ROOT BEER!” “Sprite!, get Sprite!!” And heaven help the children who brought back two of the same flavor. 
              After we were back on the road, the pops would be passed around the cabin, “Orange, third row”, “I SAID ORANGE THIRD ROW”, “Sprite to the front, please”, “Who has the Sprite, Matt, will you get Kendra’s attention, SPRITE TO THE FRONT, KENDRA”.
            Should the arguing becoming incessant; my mom would flip down her rearview mirror, sunglasses glaring into the back rows, searching out the problem the child, threatening punishment.  If the arguing insisted, became irritating, or too much to handle, my dad would boom, “Pass the mugs up front”.  A cry would go up from the children in the back, “No, please no, we will be better”, “Thanks a lot Lance, look what you’ve done!” The mugs would solemnly be passed to my dad, who would roll down his window—of course the front windows rolled down fully, a privilege of being a parent—and he would open the lids, and poor the sweet, sweet liquid out on the road.   
            When the road became boring, with the sun high in the sky, my parents would start us singing rounds, row by row.  We had:
Round One:
Get up ol’ Dobbin, We’re going to town
Get those wheels a-turnin’ around
Get those wheels a-turnin’ around
Giddy-up! We’re homeward bound

Round Two:
 I like to take my horse and buggy
While I go travelin’ to the town
I like to hear ol’ Dobbins clip-clop
I like to feel the wheels go’ round


White coral bells, upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley line my garden walk

Oh don’t you wish, that you could hear them ring
That will only happen when the fairies sing

            When we neared the end of the trip, my parents would call for all of us to take out our headphones, and “clean up your areas, put on your shoes, We’re almost there”.