So here I am at 4 am on a Monday, sitting up to try to release whatever was inside of me after turning every half hour all night to see if shifting gas was the problem, thinking, Why did I eat so much dang watermelon?! My entire torso hurt, and even when I had relief, the lower right side of my abdomen continued to ache. I thought my intestines just couldn’t digest whatever was in the watermelon that I had eaten WAY too much of that day as I was cutting it up to fit in our fridge, so I resigned myself to being tired the rest of the day and to abstaining from eating any more of that fruit. The end.
Except it wasn’t the end. My right side continued to hurt all day, and the next morning, it hurt when I bent over in my yoga warmup. Bending is kind of necessary in yoga, so I suffered through it, easing up a bit and wondering what was going on. My brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s a couple years ago, so I thought, here it is; it’s finally come for me, too. It was that or diverticulitis. I was sure of it. (Symptom checkers tend to become my Bible during hypochondriac episodes.) Years of weird digestive complaints culminating in this one yogic forward bend that will forever define any issue I have again. But then I had to go and text my mom, and things went downhill. Words like Appendicitis! and ER! were tossed around. Well, I have two children, and a trip to the ER was not going to happen until I could leave them safely at home with someone else. Thankfully, I also have an amazing telepathic supervisor who had already arranged someone to come that afternoon without even knowing about my strange pain, so I got to go around noon to check things out.
Here’s where a four-hour time-suck happens.
I leave my car with the valet (valet!) and walk inside to the front desk to ask where the emergency room is. The man asks for my ID to print out a visitor pass, even though I tell him I’m not visiting anyone, and then tells me to come around to the side. I thought he just needed to make sure the person on my driver’s license was in fact me, but when he prints out the sticker that I have to wear as a ‘visitor,’ I realize he had taken my picture. The very worst picture of me ever taken. Ever.
My eyes are neither fully opened nor fully closed. I mean, what is that??
So I put that on my chest and walked through the halls to find the ER. When I got there, I didn’t even realize it because most of it was under construction, and there were only about four rooms total for patients. I thought I had accidentally stumbled upon the ICU or something, like maybe the visitor’s pass got me in to a section of the hospital I shouldn’t have access to. But the nurse told me to sit on a gurney in the hall, where she asked all the questions and did all the usual stuff: blood pressure, temperature, pulse, describe your pain, when did it start, on a scale of 1-10…, etc. When it came time to drawing blood and peeing in a cup, they told me to put on a hospital gown and to lie on the gurney, where they covered me up with a white sheet. It felt like the calmest aftermath of a disaster, like there weren’t enough rooms for everyone so the hall became a room but no one was freaking out about anything either. The doctor looked confused when I described what I was feeling and mentioned an ultrasound before his phone rang and he walked away. I was wheeled into a now-vacant room, and the door was shut. I felt forgotten for a long time.
After a period of reading and exchanging texts to my mom and siblings (it could be cancer; they don’t know yet; stop laughing at her picture!), they came for me. There was a wheelchair. And another white sheet. They told me to sit in the wheelchair, and then they covered me with the white sheet. Really, this isn’t necessary. I can walk. I got myself here, didn’t I? Of course I don’t say anything. I let them wheel me around, because no matter how strong my chagrin was at being wheeled around when I knew I didn’t need to be wheeled around, my pleasure at being excessively worried about was stronger. (Though deep down I knew that it had everything to do with liability and nothing to do with me.)
I’ve seen so many ultrasound pictures of babies and movies with pregnant women getting ultrasounds that when they started moving around the tool-thing on my stomach, I expected to see an oversized head sucking a thumb on the screen. It’d be the immaculately conceived alien child, but still. Surely stranger things have happened. All I ended up seeing were ovaries and uteruses and the color red. I wonder if that’s normal…, I thought. After all of the rubbing and prodding and what not, they brought me my wheelchair (and the white sheet) and wheeled me back to my room, where I felt forgotten for longer time.
Eventually, the doctor came in and explained that my right ovary had a hemorrhagic cyst— basically some good ol’ internal bleeding (hence the color red), harmless aside from the pain — and that it should go away in a couple days. At least you don’t have to go through a scanner!, he said. I signed some papers, walked the maze back to the information desk, waited for the valet, and drove away.
After all of that, I celebrated not having appendicitis by going to a French film and being one of two people in the theatre. I even got a Sprite. Take that, hemorrhagic cyst! I’m not ready for watermelon yet, but it feels good to know that I’m not dying. And that at least there was something going on to justify being wheeled around. What if they found out it was just gas? How embarrassing that would be.
I am left with just one question: Why did they have to take my picture?