It happened late Wednesday night. I felt sick, it was around midnight. I got up and went to the bathroom, I found myself wondering which end to point at the toilet. "This is a bad situation", I thought. I decided to have a seat, and grab the waste basket. I was in intense pain, that made my cry out and I began to sweat profusely. This lasted for quite a while. It must be food poisoning, I reasoned to myself. I went to bed and in the morning, of course felt sick again, I still had intense intestinal pain and this time I noticed blood. Quite a bit of it, and an hour later, I had to go again, this time...all blood. I was scared. I called my Mom and told her about what was going on. I'd had dinner with my parents and wanted to find out if they felt sick too.
My sister has Crohn's disease, so of course my mother had me diagnosed with that in about 3 minutes. I was more of the wait and see, because I'm not dead yet school of thought. I made it through the rest of the day, but the next morning, I felt like dying. Mom called to see how I was, and when I told her, the conversation went like this...
Mom: I'm coming to get you and you're going to the hospital. This is nothing to screw around with, you could die.
Me: No, I don't want to go today...
Mom: What day are you going to want to go?
Me: (chuckling painfully) Never...Maybe I just need antibiotics.
Mom: You don't know that. You have to go to the hospital. I'm coming to get you!
Me: At least give me some time to prepare, and pay some bills and call people I have dealings with in the next couple of days...how about after lunch, say, 1:00?
Mom: I'll see you at one. Pack a bag, they are going to admit you. We'll take care of the dogs.
Okay, this seems manageable, that's what you're thinking right now...right? All except for one teeny tiny little detail. I have an unreasonable fear of hospitals and doctors, and, well...all things medical. I'm the polar opposite of a hypochondriac, I never feel sick, or if I do, I don't believe it hard enough to make it go away. Something literally has to fall off my body, for me to admit there's a problem, and if I could, I'd just staple it back on, rather than go see someone about it.
One of my greatest fears is being in the hospital to have my tonsils out, and waking up to find one of my legs amputated. I do not have a great deal of faith in medical professionals, and I have never ever had surgery, or been admitted to a hospital. The very idea of this sends me into a full fledged panic.
Maybe a cocktail or two with lunch, maybe I could just hide, or leave until my mother goes away.
These all seem reasonable to me. I begin to make phone calls and cancellations, and explain that I'm going to the hospital, which sounds like a death sentence to me every time I say it, "Yeah, I'm going to the gallows in a couple of hours, so...I can't make our appointment tomorrow."
I decide to go ultimately, because the pain is stronger than the fear. We get to the emergency room and before too long, I am in an examination room. I am told to remove all of my clothing and put on the gown. The dreaded gown, with the opening in the back. The gown that you see on terminally ill people with tubes and machines hooked up to them, that gown. I tell my story to several people and am forced to answer very detailed questions about my poo. This too, is painful. I get to enjoy a rectal exam, and they take blood, I am poked and prodded, my vitals are being taken repeatedly, and then they bring me a large container of orange fluid. I'm told to drink 8oz of this every 15 minutes over the next hour and half, and then they'll come get me for a cat-scan. They also leave me a plastic specimen container called a hat, that they'd like me to fill. I am delighted with the request but don't seem to be able to comply, not then, and not for my entire stay.
I was in the little room for 8 hours. After the cat-scan the doctor came and told me it was infectious colitis, and they were going to admit me. They did not yet know what caused it, but seven inches of my intestines were inflamed. They put me on an IV, and know I was one of those people wandering around in a gown with a metal coat rack on wheels that has bags of goop hanging off it that are attached by tubes to your arm. It's like a nightmare. I feel like I'm in an episode of The Twilight Zone. After the Doctor leaves, I begin to cry. My mom hugs me and tells me it'll be alright. I feel like a total baby. They take me to my room, and I am relieved to find that it's empty. It's just me, thank god!
I was moved into my room at 10:00pm. They took my vitals, I met the nurse, met the doctor, they did an assessment, hooked me up to more hanging goo, and promised me something for the pain, and something to help me sleep. I needed both. At 11:00 there was a shift change, so they took my vitals, did an assessment, I met the new nurse, and the new doctor, I asked for the meds for pain and sleep, they had to check...I asked a few more times, and finally at 1:30am they brought me the pills. I got to sleep at around 2:00am. At 4:30am they wheeled in my room-mate. A Hispanic woman who seemed to be in great pain. They turned on all the lights, they talked in tones you'd expect to hear outside, not in tones one would want in a room where someone is trying to sleep. There were about 900 people setting her up and she was moaning and groaning loudly and chanting "dios mio". I felt sorry for her, yes, but I wanted to sleep...
I got back to sleep at around 5:00am, but was awakened by a screaming baby in the room across the hall a half-hour later. I got up and wheeled my coat rack over to shut the door which was left wide open with all the lights and noises of the non-stop busy hallway flooding in.
I dozed off again just in time for a someone to wake me up so they could take more blood. That was at 6:00am. I hoped to sleep a while longer when my room-mate began to hurl, and in a very noisy way. I cannot hear this without joining in, kind of like yawning, so I quickly grabbed my ipod and jammed it in my ears cranking the volume to avert the disaster. Then more vitals, another assessment, more new staff...they brought me a menu, and wanted me to choose my meals for the next couple of days. I filled it all out, and someone came around to collect it. The doctor (a specialist) came in to examine me, and he told me about the possibilities and probabilities. They brought me a liquid lunch, said the doctor had put me on a liquid diet, so I drank my meals and didn't get any of the food I had carefully selected earlier.
Some friends came to visit me, and by that time I was unfettered, so we went for a walk around the hospital. I was in my own pajamas by this time. When I returned my extremely noisy room-mate was being relocated. Yahooo...peace. They left, and then around dinner time some more friends stopped in. They were on their way out to dinner, and felt bad when they saw my unappetizing tray of liquids. So did I.
I was feeling a lot better, and didn't have much pain anymore, but I made sure I got my sleeping pill before the shift change. I was exhausted. I shut the door and went to sleep, only to get another room-mate at 1:30am. This one was an older woman named Adelaide, but her friends called her Babs, who'd fallen and broken her hip. I officially met her the next morning, and I really liked her. She was quite a character, very funny and a great attitude. The nurses assistants were kind of ignoring her, so I helped her with some tasks, brushing her teeth, eating breakfast, answering the phone. When they told me I could go, she begged me not to.
"I can take you with me, but I've got to go!" I said smiling. It was Mother's Day. I made sure she had people coming to see her, and I got a ride home from some friends. I drove to my parent's house to make my mom dinner and collect my babies (Cody and Winston).
My visit to the hospital was not as bad as I thought it would be in some ways, and much worse than I thought in others. All in all, I'd have been glad to skip it altogether.