So, a few weeks ago I went to see Incredibles 2 with my husband. And before the show Holly Hunter, Coach, and Sam Jackson himself appear and say, “We know it’s been a long time since The Incredibles, but these movies take a long time!”
I lean over to my husband and say, “So, are people complaining that animated movies take a long time to make?” John gives me an emphatic, “Yes.” I humph. Which roughly translates to, “People suck.”
Another example, one of my favorite book series, Newsflesh, about bloggers in a post apocalyptic zombie age, says that “waiting doesn’t actually create suspense, it just loses viewers.” I am paraphrasing, but all this comes down to…
I know it’s been a long time since the first part of this post. But something happened…
So, in part 1, I was talking about how my plucky country hospital has it’s moments. Part 2 was going to be about my week long stay in the medical wing where I was super high on dilaudid. The dilaudid made me see phantom television shows, large vikings lined up at the foot of my bed, and did absolutely nothing to cover the haunting calls of the Alzheimer’s patient down the hall. Not to mention the billing lady who screamed when she walked into my room because she thought “there was something growing out of my side.” It was my son, laying in my lap. He was just born. And quite beautiful, if I do say so myself. (That’s him in the picture. Does he look like something “growing out of my side” because this pic was taken only a few moments before the screaming started. Side note: He was still a little jaundiced at this point. That’s why he looks so tan. To which my perpetually-tanned-Florida aunt replied, “He’s got such great color! Is he part Italian?”)
There were great nurses though. And of course, “Bob, they call me trouble” orderly. He was a sweetheart.
But then something happened that made me want to wipe them all of the map. Certainly not give a quirky account of week’s worth of medical tomfoolery including the worst pain of my life and several seasons of TNT’s Major Crimes. (And when I say “worst pain of my life” remember that I had a baby only one month previous. So I wasn’t messing around.)
But like I said, something happened recently. I nearly died… again.
I know…. uhg.
So, I’ve had issues with chronic Urinary Tract Infections. It’s embarrassing to say but very common so I know that there are other women out there (and men too) who might say, “I hear you,” so instead of tip-toeing around it, I’ll just say peeing blood has become way too common for me. Because of this my doctor put me on a new med.
Less than a week after starting the meds. I got very, very sick. Part of me thought I had gone too-keto and was getting the “keto flu,” which is just a result of carb withdrawal. (Note: If you are married, never admit that your flu might be diet related. He might say it is “self induced” and become “extremely unhelpful,” or you know, act like a “jerk-face.”)
The symptoms included: fever, paralyzing chills, hacking sharp coughs, fatigue, and the oh-so-pleasant bloody diarrhea. (I will say by the time that particular symptom showed up I knew it had nothing to do with my no carb diet.) At one point, I’m sleeping on the couch so as not to disturb my husband in our bed, or my son in his, with my earth shattering coughs and shaking chills- and it gets so bad that I know I have to go to the hospital. Trouble is, I am on the couch. I can’t walk from the shaking, and my husband is on the other side of the house. Fortunately, I have my phone with me. So first, I start texting him. Nothing. I start calling. Nothing. Suddenly, I remember that he has just started a new sleeping pill. Crap. So, that’s when I straight up start shouting.
I have a flashback to that poor Alzheimer’s patient yelling, “Hello?” to an empty hospital room. This almost makes me cry, but I am too busy shouting at John to get up. This also makes me flashback to the 72 hours of labor I had with my son, where John fell asleep on the couch and I started to throw things at him from my hospital bed- pillows, water pitcher, plastic cups, puke pan, bed pan… he slept through the whole barrage.
Flash forward to me on the couch and he finally gets up around 6am. I tell him we need to go to the ER. And because he really is a wonderful husband, he grabs my clothes, wakes up the baby, and we go without a word of doubt or complaint.
If you tuned in to part one, you know that this hospital is quirky. So when I am sitting in one of the newer glass cubicle rooms that mysteriously has a TV from 1998 mounted on the wall, a TV that so obviously does not work, I am not surprised to overhear some of the more bizarre patient interactions from within the ER. There is a sick child that makes me send John and my son away almost immediately. (Not so bizarre, but expositionly important.) There is the old man obsessed with ordering breakfast, and keeps asking the nurse about the bacon. There is the drunk who is dramatically hurling said breakfast in the most visceral way. (To the point that I know the old man must be deaf because there is no way you could eat with that going on.) And through it all my old friend Bob comes rolling through, giving his same spiel unchanged from over two years ago, “My name is Bob. They call me trouble. I like to have fun but I’m very serious about my job. So keep your hands inside the ride at all times.”
(There was a super weird moment where the nurse tried to convince me that I might be pregnant despite the fact that my husband had a vasectomy. John was still there at this point. Like, she definitely had a hunch that I was pregnant and this was the way my husband was going to find out about my illicit affair with the baby daddy. Probably a little too much medical drama in her TV diet. (Or it’s because that would be completely normal in Danville.) Either way she gave me a flawless IV, so I forgive her. I would forgive almost anything for a good IV that doesn’t turn me into a pincushion. Anyway, back to the real drama.)
Through all of the doctors, and nurses, and testing, I ask every single medical professional (I almost ask Bob too, but I don’t want to ruin his prepared speech) I ask every single one of them, “Is this because of the new meds I took? The macrobid?” And every single one says no.
I get sent home with no answer. The doctor says, you clearly have an infection but we don’t know what it is. We’ll get the results of your tests in 48 hours. Go home.
John picks me up and less than 24 hours later, the cough gets worse, my hands go numb, and a disturbing rash develops. I tell John it’s time to go back to the hospital. Mostly I’m thinking, it’s time to get me away from the baby. My mother-in-law can watch him while John and I go back to get answers. (Did I mention that my in-laws have come to visit? It was planned before the sickness started and I thought it was diet related, remember? So, I thought it would be over by then.) The thought of my mother-in-law makes me flashback to that psychedelic pancreatitis week 2 years ago where my mother-in-law came to help with the baby then too. She innocently, and very sweetly, suggested that we, the baby and I, come to live with her while I recovered. I became completely convinced she was trying to steal my son. (Like I said, seriously psychedelic drugs. Did I mention the vikings? There were vikings too.)
Our second trip to the ER gets worse. (And the previous trip had included a vomit inducing iodine and water cocktail that I had to drink.) I say it’s worse because that’s when they start to turn on me.
It’s stress. It’s my anxiety disorder. It’s my son’s autism diagnosis.
“How can stress cause me to get a fever?” I ask.
They say, “Oh, it’s not really a high fever.”
“Not really a high fever? Is that a medical conclusion?”
They ignore me and ask, “How much cannabis do you smoke?”
Not do you, but how much. I tell them that I am not that cool. Not that kind of writer, I write children’s plays after all.
It doesn’t matter what kind of writer I am because the conclusion is it’s all in my head. The doctor actually says “it’s all in your head.” The worst fear of any mentally ill persons. That’s when I start to apologize to John for the unnecessary hospital trip. John says that’s bullshit and we should sue. But he doesn’t do medical malpractice, he’s not that kind of lawyer. When they finally decide to keep me overnight just to be sure it’s not something worse, we let the “all in your head” comments go.
Eventually it stops. Without warning. The next morning when they let me go, they say that it was dehydration, with a potassium deficiency. John and I accept this because we are just happy it’s gone.
Flash forward two months later, I have to take the meds again prophylactically. Within hours, the chills were back, the horrible sharp cough, the rash… all of it…
With dawning horror, I consult another doctor… Dr. Google.
It’s all there. All of my symptoms are a result of the macrobid medication. It’s not even some hippie-dippie conspiracy sight, it’s prescription list, one of many side effects websites.
Further research shows that if I continued to take the meds I could have permanent pulmonary scaring (that’s my lungs by the way, I still can’t quite take a deep breath.) And that in some cases, the symptoms ultimately resulted in death.
A whhhhaaaaaa??? Did you just say, death, Dr. Google?
First, I was terrified. Then I was pissed. All that pain. All the pain I still had left to go. I would be in misery for two more days at this point, pushing the toxic medicine out of my lungs with each sharp bark of a cough. (That’s how it gets out apparently. Which for a second made me feel like some kind of fire breathing dragon. But only a second.)
It was… upsetting. They made me believe that my pain wasn’t real because it was inconvenient to them. And that is the biggest betrayal of all. We ran to the ER for help and they made me feel like I was crazy. And because I am crazy, they got a way with it. More than that, we paid them thousands of dollars to make me feel like a problem child.
Even writing that just exhausts me. But I know that I am not the only one to have this experience in a hospital. That is what makes Part 2 so important. No matter who you are, male or female, disabled or in perfect health, pain is pain. Even if it does turn out to be psychosomatic, the pain is real and you deserve to be treated.
Stand up for yourself. John may not be that kind of lawyer, but I may be that kind of writer, because I say to you now, once again, you are your best advocate. You are your best defense against arrogance. When someone tells you, it’s all in your head, you ask, “So did I imagine the bloody diarrhea? Cause that is some fight club level delusions.”
Or you know, something like that. Either way, be your own Tyler Durden and kick some ass.
I’ll leave you with this, and reminder that you are never alone… even in the hospital.