Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Moral is That Ambulance Rides Are Fun!

Since having E and while experiencing all her firsts, I've experienced a few of my own, too, including but not limited to... the first time wetting my pants as an adult, my first time being barfed on, my first time standing in line at the supermarket holding a massive bunch of balloons with an awkward, sad clown look on my face.

Today's first was the most fun, though! It was E's first birthday party, postponed from last weekend, because she had the flu. We had a healthy week, so I spent all Friday night baking with friends -- 6 straight hours!

We woke up Saturday morning in good spirits, even though E started throwing up every half hour a few hours before the party. I thought the first 2 episodes were kind of normal. In all other ways, she was fine -- playing, dancing, singing... then puking. By the time I realized it was something more serious, the guests were on their way. I scheduled a doctor's appointment for her and thought they would tell me she was just getting rid of some phlegm and would be fine to at least make a quick appearance at the party.

My friend, Krista, was here from New York, so she drove us. I planned to catch puke in the back seat with E on the way to the doctor, while Mark stayed home and greeted party guests.

Halfway to the appointment I started to feel funny. I told Krista that I'd have to stop to use a bathroom somewhere. We pulled into our favorite diner (where everybody knows our name -- or at least they do now), and I ran inside. I motioned to the waitress seating people that I just needed to use the restroom. She gave me the "go ahead" wave, and I ran for the (thankfully) vacant ladies' room.

Once inside, it was what you'd expect. I won't go into details. I'll just say that there really isn't any good reason to paint a scenic Vermont mural on all four walls of a bathroom. No one wants to get violently ill in a plowed field 1 mile from a hand-painted farmhouse, with a hot-air balloon directly overhead. I felt watched.

Then the stomach cramps got worse. The pain got so bad that I had to sit on the floor. Then it increased to the point that I couldn't breathe, and I blacked out. When I came to, all I saw was a painted cow staring me in the face. I was in a field, but the grass and clouds weren't moving in the wind. There was an AC unit built into the sky. "What kind of strange heaven is this?" I realized I was still in the bathroom and in more pain. If I could just stand enough to get out, to the car, to the doctor's office.

Instead, I crawled and half-clawed my way out of the restaurant, using booths and counters for support, hoping no one would notice. I got to the car and told Krista, "Please drive. Fast." She got me to the doctor quickly, and I ran inside. I proceeded to lay on the waiting room couch, screaming in agony. Krista came in with E, and I remember trying not to scream, because I didn't want to scare her. Then I blacked out again and came to in a wheelchair. They got me to lay down in a room and I stayed there for a long time, in and out, while they asked me questions like: "Do you know where your baby is??" This question came up repeatedly, and it was always the one I forced myself to answer as detailed and as quickly as possible. In one breath (this chatter got skills): My friend has her, in the waiting room I rode in the back seat I got sick on the way She's here from New York for my daughter's first birthday.

I can only guess that they thought I was delirious. They asked me the same question about 10 times and always got the same, wordy, breathless response. I knew where my kid was. Then they kept asking me what my name was. I remember answering but have no recollection of what I said. I can only hope that I said: John Philip Sousa, Mary Todd Lincoln, or Ringo Starr.

They tried to start an IV with no luck. They called Mark and an ambulance. I just begged them to make the pain stop. After about 20 minutes, it let up a little, and I was able to sit up. Then I just cried. Like a baby until the ambulance came. EMTs are the best. They strapped me in, loaded me up, and off we went, lights and sirens blaring. Good Lord.

When we were almost to the hospital, the pain let up a little more. I leaned over to the EMT woman at my side and said, "What if the only reason I'm riding in the ambulance is because I had severe diarrhea?"

And do you know what that angel said? She said that no matter what it was, the pain was severe enough that it warranted this -- that I had been through labor and gallstones, and that I knew what real pain was. God love her. She had been volunteering as an EMT for 17 years. That's 17 years of that kind of care and patience and words of comfort!

It was also kind of fun, as the pain continued to dissipate. I used to love playing ambulance with my Puzzle Town bears -- opening the back door, throwing Handicapped Bear in, and whirring around Puzzle Town making loud siren noises.

It was just like that. I finally arrived at the hospital and got to a phone. I found out that Mark had been called to get Krista and E at the doctor's office then come get me. I later found out that Krista had done E's entire doctor appointment (seriously, how did I get so lucky to have the friends I do?). E was just fighting a stomach bug and needed antibiotics to clear up an ear infection.

Then I waited.

Bored. With no iPhone. Everything stopped. The beeps and bustles of the hospital went on around me. The pain slowly came to a stop, and I waited.

In the next bed, I heard this conversation:
Man: Everything's going to be okay.
Woman: No it's not. You don't know that!
M: Yes, I do. It's just a CAT scan.
W: I'm not laying in that room -- the room where, next door, my sister DIED.

Me: Oh God. I'm in an episode of The Young and the Restless. Well, not quite...

Man: Calm down. The doctor's coming.
Doc to Woman: Well, we're going to check you for ovarian cysts. It's possible that one ruptured.
Man: Yeah, I've had ovarian cysts. In fact, I've had all kinds of problems with my ovaries.

At this point, I was wide eyed and trying not to laugh -- a man with ovaries? It can't be!

Then that "man" got up and walked by my bed. It was actually a very tall, husky-voiced woman in a reindeer-adorned sweater. She had a Richard Simmons perm and matching mustache.

Me: Oh. Hi.

My nurse came in and told me to get undressed, but to leave my underwear on. I had left the house in such a hurry I hadn't put underwear on. I told her that these dress pants, that I had pulled out of the bottom of the laundry pile, were my underwear. She said it was fine to go naked. It wasn't. I was sharing a room. With Richard Simmon's mom.

I kept my pants on. The doctor came in and said, "Well, you're good to go!"

What!? I just gave birth... to something. Something's wrong. He said there was nothing to test me for, no symptoms beyond the cramps that pointed to any one thing. He also said that a lot of people are coming in with severe cramps with a virus. He said to go home, see if it happens again with different symptoms, and follow up with my regular doctor. Fine. But this felt like a near-death experience. It didn't matter.

So, home we all went. The party went on without us, and our family came over after to open presents. E stopped throwing up. I feel better but still not right so am hoping to have more answers next week!

1 comment:

Janice Gifford said...

This will be a very memorable 1st birthday for all of us!