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Drama! In Real Life.

So maybe some of you might have been wondering vaguely if I had dropped off the face of the e-earth. The short answer to that question is, in fact, "yes." But I'm back now, if in slightly more battered shape than before. I've just come home from a week-long medical adventure that was, to be honest, the scenario of my "I hate doctors" nightmares.

I was feeling a little crummy on Friday evening, and elected to skip the grad students' potluck. I took the weekend easy, used it to grocery shop, do laundry, take out the trash . . . all things that I would later be very glad I had done. I was having these weird abdominal cramps all weekend. They felt like a girdle pulling tight around my tummy, and hurt, but they responded pretty well to heat and rest. I figured they were some weird stress-induced muscle cramp, and went ahead to my dance class Sunday night.

On Monday, I woke up in utter, crushing, shoot-me-now pain. When the pain didn't go away and didn't go away and didn't go away, and I could barely move, I knew something was wrong. I called Dad Pony and then called the Student Care Center. They gave me a mid-morning appointment, so I threw some random things in a backpack and hauled myself downstairs to the bus. (Several people have since expressed amazement that I took the bus to the SCC. These people are actual grownups. Any student knows that, basically, you have two ways to get to the SCC -- by foot or by bus. And I was in no shape to walk that mile.)

What followed was a nightmarish day of laying around writhing in pain until the doctor put in an IV drip and gave me a shot of morphine while we waited for there to be an opening at the CT lab. Now, the thing you have to understand is that I have a terrible fear of medical needles, and there's always been a worry in the back of my mind that, if I went to the doctor, they'd basically kidnap me into the Medical Establishment, and I'd never find my way out again. This is a great incentive to keep oneself in basic good health.

Eventually, they wheelchaired me down to the CT lab, where I waited for hours, alternately in pain and conking out from the morphine, until they did a CT scan. Kind of interesting, since I'd never had one before. What with one thing and another, it was almost five in the afternoon before I was wheelchaired back to the SCC. The doctor came in with her diagnosis.

I had a ruptured appendix. Not just appendicitis, mind you. The thing had gone blooey sometime over the weekend, and I hadn't noticed. I hadn't had the really classic symptoms of appendicitis, and my pain threshold is high enough that the cramps I did have weren't immediately alarming. So there I was, Monday evening, with a burst appendix and a massive abdominal infection. I was told that I would be taken to the Emergency Room and processed into the University of Chicago Hospitals, there to await some form of treatment that would probably involve surgery. A terrible medical nightmare had come true.

They let me call the Pony Parents, then took me down to the ER, and I spent much of the evening there, doped, in pain, having nothing in the way of overnight supplies, no way to contact anyone, no ability to do so even if I'd had a way, and not a clue about the immediate future except that it was clear that I wasn't going to be able to teach my seminar on Tuesday. Fortunately, Mom Pony called one of my friends here in Hyde Park, and she roared right down to the ER, declared herself in loco parentis, and stayed with me for most of the evening. She handled the discussions with the doctors, and agreed to contact my advisor and the writing program that night.

The doctors eventually decided that immediate surgery was out of the question, since the infection was so huge. They elected to admit me to the hospital and put me on IV antibiotics for a few days to get the infection under control, then schedule a minimally invasive surgery for a later date. "That sounds great," my friend said. "Wrrrg," I said. I had to take out my contact lenses, but I'd forgotten to bring my glasses, so I was pretty much blind. Blind, doped, and hurting is a bad combination. But my friend stayed with me, and called Mom Pony regularly on her cellphone to keep her updated. Meanwhile, Mom Pony was booking the first flight out to Chicago.

They inserted another IV (I still don't know why I needed two; the one from the SCC was much better done), took me up to a hospital room, and deposited me in a bed. My friend left to go contact people, and the doctors and nurses kept me awake for the whole night, taking vitals, taking blood, taking more vitals, asking stupid admissions questions ("Religion?" "Jewish." "Would you like a non-denominational clergyperson?" "Go away, bitch."), taking more vitals, giving me a breathing toy and trying to show me how to use it, putting me on oxygen, until I had almost no sleep in a mysterious hospital room that I couldn't see and where I was utterly alone.

Fortunately, Mom Pony arrived bright and early the next morning, fully prepared to move into the hospital room with me and stay until I was better. She went back to my apartment and brought my glasses and a few other things, and I could finally see my surroundings for the first time. I had a private room that was originally intended to be a double, which meant there was plenty of room for Mom Pony to stay on a cot with me. Since they didn't yet know whether I would need immediate surgery, I was on a surgical floor and under orders not to eat or drink anything. I had an IV pole that dripped saline and lots of antibiotics. I could sit in bed, or in a chair, and as soon as I felt able, I could get up and walk, dragging that pole around with me.

That was pretty much my life for the next week. I slowly came out of the morphine fog, and the pain started to go away. Lots of friends called, and several came to visit after the first couple of days, when we could be reasonably sure that I'd be awake most of the day. The really bad part was at night. They love to bother you at night in a hospital, poking and prodding and checking things. The worst bit was the phlebotomists. They wanted bloodwork each night, but I had IVs in both of the best veins on my body. So the phlebotomists stuck me with needles, again and again, failing to get a vein, or failing to get the veins to bleed. They'd wiggle the needles around and try in really sensitive places, and when they failed, they sent in the nurses, and they would not leave me alone until they got their damn blood each night. My arms look like I've been attacked by vampires, which is not too far from the truth.

After a while, I got hungry and stir-crazy. They eventually let me have liquids, then real food. The plan was working, and the infection was coming under control. Little Sister Pony sent flowers, which were a real perk, Mom Pony and I watched SVU and Orangutan Island together, and people continued to call and visit. On Thursday, the shape-note singers called from the singing, so I got to listen in over the phone.

Yesterday, they did another CT scan, and after dithering about the results for four hours, the doctors couldn't decide what to do with it and let me go home, late in the evening, with a prescription for two oral antibiotics.

Today, I laid around for most of the day. I'm pretty tired, and I have to move slowly and cut back on some activities, but I can function. On Super Tuesday, after I vote, I have an appointment with the surgeon, and we'll sit down and schedule the surgery to clear out the remains of the appendix and the abscess around it.

So. All in all, a week that I very much wish had not happened. However, if it did have to happen, it probably happened in the best way possible. Mom Pony was able to stay with me through the whole thing, I got "better" pretty quickly, and all of my friends came out to love and support me, which cheered me more than I can say. I'll go back to school tomorrow, but take things slow, and we'll just toddle along from there, I suppose.

So, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play how was everyone else's week?


( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 28th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Wow, welcome to hell, FP! My neighbor had a similar weird not sure what's wrong with me do-the-CT-scan and have an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago. He was in Chicago, btw, on business!

So you are home, the infection is being treated and you still need surgery. Hopefully laparascopic, even outpaitent surgery, maybe!

Take care of yourself - is Mom Pony still with you, I hope? Keep us udpdated.
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
God, that must have been the worst business trip EVAR. On the other hand, Chicago has some pretty good hospitals.

They're going to try to do the surgery laparoscopically, which is a great thing -- who wants to be sliced open like a pot roast?

Mom Pony had to go home this morning, but she said she felt okay to do it because I had so many friends who were willing to help me out. But it was very comforting to have her here for the week in the hospital!
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness, Pony. That's awful. I'm glad you're feeling better but this was an ordeal I wish you hadn't had to go through.
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
I wish I could say that it had made me spiritually stronger or something. But you know, all that something like that really does is hurt, chew up time and insurance, and make you feel lousy. Some nice things did happen -- I got a week with Mom Pony, and all my friends came out in droves -- but I'd trade all that for just a healthy appendix.
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
i was very glad that mom pony could come and to meet her. and it was good to see you, though frankly, if you want to see me other than thursday nights, there are probably easier ways to do so.

i was coughing up a lung from that burning rubber thing, as you got to hear, and i continued to cough all over my dear, sweet boyfriend who was visiting. the cough left pretty much when he did. i sure as hell hope they are done working on the roof. i have choral rehearsal tomorrow. so i can't go home.

Jan. 28th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
I was so happy to see you guys when you came to visit. Mom Pony really enjoyed seeing both of you, too. All those visits and cards and calls and flowers really made things much more bearable.

And hey, now I can testify that singing over the phone to a sick person is a fantastic idea and we should do it as often as we need.
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Oof! You have my sympathy - it sounds like a gruelling few days, especially given your dislike of doctors.
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
It was literally my worst medical nightmare come true. Mom Pony has assured me that no one, not even Little Sister Pony, will ever mock my fear of needles again.
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Oh my God, FP.

I'm so glad you're all right. And that you have a swell mom.
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:12 am (UTC)
Mom Pony said that she couldn't not come. But it was a last-minute plane ride halfway across the country, and she had to abandon Dad Pony and get someone else to cover her classes, so it was something of a sacrifice for her. But I'm really glad she made it. I really needed her there. You never outgrow your need for your mom when you're sick.
(no subject) - meckinock - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meckinock - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meckinock - Jan. 28th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Poor baby. Good luck. My son-in-law had the same thing happen to him last year (ruptured appendix) last year and the good news was that once the surgery was over he recovered very quickly. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
How old is your son-in-law? Little Sister Pony's MedSurg textbook said that appendicitis was most common between fourteen and thirty, more weighted toward the lower end of the scale. I'm thirty-one, and Little Sister Pony reported that none of her preceptors can remember a case of someone as old as I am getting this kind of thing.
(no subject) - heartofoshun - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heartofoshun - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
Holy Cow, FP! That is just horrific. I share your opinion of the medical establishment and the need/desire to avoid it. Take it easy and make sure you take good care of yourself and listen to your body until you have that surgery.
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
It did have a grim sort of irony to it; my worst medical nightmare finally came true, despite my best efforts to avoid it.

I've been laying around all day, and I'll be taking things in little baby steps for at least the next week.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
I think that the e-hugs are the best care package of all. (If a physical package came, I'd have to schlep it up three flights of stairs, after all.)

It was a week from hell, but at least that's behind me, and I can start to pick my life up again. I'm looking forward to that.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness. I'm glad you're better. I'm sorry you had such a rough time. Take it easy!
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
It's times like this that I am glad that God and Al Gore invented the intarwebz. I can socialize with you and be cheered up, and still take things easy at the same time.
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
Oh god. So glad to hear you are ok. I guess it's a good thing you only have one appendix. Next time you are feeling that crappy, maybe just go get it checked out because now you know these things can snowball. But geeze, so glad to hear you are ok!
Jan. 28th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Errr, I fear this did not come out very well. Just know I said it out of concern for you and your well being!
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
Ew. Glad you're OK.
Jan. 28th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
Yeah. This was one experience I'll be glad to have behind me.
Jan. 28th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
Dear Deity in the Celestial Sphere!

Pony, what an excruciatingly horrible experience. I'm so glad you had a friend there (eventually) with you and that your mom was able to come and stay with you. The only thing worse than being in a hospital would be being all alone in a hospital. I'm sorry you still have surgery ahead, but they have to make sure all the bad stuff is gone or it could be more problems down the road. (I was pissed off at the doctor who removed my appendix when I was having some other surgery, not for doing that but for not bothering to tell me. I only found out years later when he retired, and I picked up my file from his office. On the other hand, in light of your experience, maybe I owe him one.)

Sad to say I wasn't worried that you were "MIA." I just figured you were busy with classes and all that. I hope this is not going to set you back too much, but one thing at a time. Just concentrate on healing.

I've been having some medical adventures, too, though nothing like yours. I keep planning to post about it and will try to before the month ends. Like you, I'd just as soon have done without the "adventure."

I used to hate doctors and hospitals as much as you do. I will say, now from my advanced age and experience, see enough of either and you get somewhat de-sensitized to them.
Jan. 28th, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
I've heard of doctors snipping the appendix while they were in on other business. I do think the patient should be notified first, but I think that's probably not a bad practice generally.

I want to hear about your medical adventures, too! If only to reassure myself that I'm not the only one to get slimed by God.
(no subject) - meggins - Jan. 29th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
What a hellish experience! I'm so glad you're feeling better now, and that so many people were there to help out.


Jan. 28th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
There were times when I would wonder if maybe I wasn't having some kind of awful nightmare, but, no, it was really happening. Bloodsucking phlebotomists and all. The really scary thing is that, even after the doctors decided I didn't need nightly blood work any more, the phlebotomist still barged in and flipped on all the lights. It took some work to convince her to go away, but she finally looked at my chart and saw that the doctor had indeed written that I did not need blood work.

I think I'll call my first horror novel The Phlebotomist Came At Midnight.
Jan. 28th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
Crikey, FP! I've been gaping a the screen for the last five minutes thinking how horrific that must have been. I wondered about you but thought maybe I'd missed a mention of you going away or having something on. I'm so glad you're doing better now. But for crying out loud, take it easy! If you have to stay home, just do. Ack, you poor thing :-/
Jan. 28th, 2008 12:27 pm (UTC)
I don't have class till 3:30 today, so I'll lay around and look at student papers until then. And I'll come straight home after class. No dancing for me last night, and no gamelan tomorrow night, either.

Thank you for the rose!
Jan. 28th, 2008 12:39 pm (UTC)
אלוהים אדירים! תהיתי מה קורה איתך, אבל חשבתי שאת פשוט עסוקה ומכייפת, לא משהו נוראי כמו זיהום בבטן! אני כל כך כל כך כל כך שמחה שאת בסדר! אמא שלך מלכה שהיא באה כל כך מהר, ואני ממש מעריצה אותך שאם כל הכאב והפחדים היה לך ראש על הכתפיים ולקחת את עצמך בידיים ככה. אני שמחה שאת מבריאה לאיטך. החלמה מהירה והרבה אהבה מישראל!
Jan. 28th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
!תודה רבה רבה
אמא שלי אוהבת אותי מאוד
אני ילדה שלה אבל לטוס כל כך רחוק בהתראה קצרה זה משהו מיוחד
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Jan. 28th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Jan. 28th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 56 comments — Leave a comment )