Monday, November 13, 2006

Paging Dr. L'Enfant

I can remember standing in the lunch line at Wake Village Elementary School and feeling stomach pain like you wouldn’t believe a seven-year-old could experience. Short of impaling yourself on the see-saw or getting a dodgeball to the abdomen, that isn’t really the age for unidentified pain. Certainly a little young for ulcers or reflux, plus we can exclude the rogue ovary theory. Puberty came early but it didn’t come THAT early.

I finally gave in at nineteen and headed for the doctor. No real results, only some concern that I stay away from late-night Waffle House runs and cigarettes. I think I’m going to stop here and admit, much to the possible surprise of my mother, that I smoked for going on a decade. It got heavy in New York and even heavier once I moved back to Little Rock. I gave it up one day, cold turkey, when I finally calculated exactly how much it cost me to inhale two packs worth of cancer a day. That’s not the only reason I quit, however, and as much as I wish I could tell you, that deal is between me and God. Notice this is the capitalized form of God, not the normal god of which I speak. That’s because it’s my personal god and not the First Baptist Church of the One Who Has Risen and Redeemed god.

Over the years there have been barium scans and sonograms and more barium scans and lots of people who really enjoy pressing their fists into my stomach, asking me if it hurts here or HERE, how about over here? The last doctor finally did a scan with a nifty little camera that she slid right down my throat while I was vastly undermedicated. As it turns out, I have a hernia in my chest, which supposedly explains why I have strange pain in my stomach, pain that makes me want to shove a fork in my side in the hopes of having the little pain receptors move to the fork stab wound. I don’t know, a fork stab just seemed more manageable. At least I would have been able to verbally and visually indicate why I hurt in a particular area, making it much less of a guessing game for the medical personnel.

All of this culminated last Wednesday after a lunch of pizza and water. Really tasty pizza, I might add. I rarely eat it because every Sunday night for close to eighteen years my family ordered pizza. Specifically, one pepperoni pizza and one meat lover’s pizza, both with extra sauce. You could say it was because it was easy, that it meant my mother had one less night that she had to cook. In actuality, one of the adults in the household had to drive twenty minutes into town to pick it up. We lived so far out in the country even the pizza guys refused to visit.

As we were waiting on our checks I was completely overcome with the need to leave right then, as in right that very second. Had I been driving, I probably would have gotten up and just left my credit card in the hands of our waiter. But I wasn’t driving, which meant I had to wait for the general leaving consensus. I could have piped up and expressed my Leave Now feelings, but I’m a stoic one. Plus, my Actual For Real Boss was sitting at my table and one just does NOT discuss intestinal difficulties in front of Senor Actual For Real Boss.

After we’d pulled in the parking lot and I’d had to walk eight football fields back into the office, I decided I was definitely leaving. I was nearing the stage where you curl up in a ball of misery and cry, plus the pain was making me nauseated. Not the kind of heave-ho you get after a bad piece of fish, rather, the type of heave-ho one experiences when a bodily part has just been severed.

Unfortunately I do this really embarrassing thing when I have to tell people that something hurts: I cry like a little girl. I hate that I do this, I hate it I hate it I hate it. I could skin my knee and be perfectly fine until my mother asked if I was okay. I can bust my ass and crack my ankle in front of an arena of two-thousand people and not cry until my dance teacher pats my arm and ask if it hurts. Yes, it hurt. It all hurts. But the tears don’t flow until someone asks about it, naturally.

So upon telling my boss I had to leave for the day, my stomach feels like I’m being stabbed repeatedly, need to go to the doctor, I cry. Well, not cry. I tear-up. Which then completely muddles my speech and he thinks I’m telling him that there’s something wrong with my mouse. Obviously, he was a bit confused. I have to try again to form comprehensible words, make my mouth roll around sounds that should be relatively easy for an adult female. He understands, he says, and sends me on my way.

Here’s where it gets moderately interesting: On the way to my doctor I decide that he’s a raging douche and he doesn’t like to give medicine, which seems totally contradictory to being, you know, a DOCTOR. When I couldn’t sleep for months on end, he didn’t want to write me a prescription for Ambien or Lunesta because there was a chance I could get addicted. To which I replied: “Yes, but there’s also a chance I could sleep. Don’t be stingy with the drugs, little man.” So I bypassed the doctor’s office and drove straight to the ER. Almost straight, I should say. I had to pull over half-way there because a wave of pain so intense crashed through my abdominal region and I thought I was going to pass out.

The pain had dimmed from a 9.5 to a 7 by the time I was shown back to a hospital room and forced to don an ugly gown, one that I couldn’t figure out how to tie in the back and eventually just gave up and curled into a ball on the hospital bed. I know I said that thing about here’s where it gets interesting back in the previous paragraph and I may have lied. Because where it actually got interesting was when Doogie fucking Howser walked through the door.

I shit you not, this kid couldn’t have been over nineteen. Maybe twenty on a good day. My first thought was THIS is the guy they let dispense the valium? Plus, he had a wicked nasty scab over a zit he’d managed to perforate and pick at along with some very scraggly just-past-puberty facial hair. Inspire confidence, he did not.

He pushes on my stomach, makes me lift my legs, pushes on my stomach again and tells me he’ll be back. Thirty minutes later he rolls back in, telling me he’s only been at Baptist Medical for two days (really? I’m surprised!) and says he had to consult another doctor about my condition. He recommended a heavy dose of hydrocodone and some rest. Doesn’t want to put me through the cost of a CT scan. I tell him I have insurance, run any test he damn well pleases. He says no, you seem to be able to talk coherently and we’d rather just give you some pain pills.

SO WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME IS, I’M BEING PUNISHED BECAUSE I WAS TRYING TO ACT LIKE A MATURE, PROFESSIONAL ADULT AND NOT BLATHER ON LIKE A LUNATIC IN THE WAITING ROOM?

Whatever. I went home and took the happy hydro pills, cursed the infant doctor and slept like a kitten.

3 comments:

Channel 6 Television said...

You know if you crush that shit up and smoke it, you get wicked high...

birdie said...

I get high enough as it is just from swallowing the pretty white balls of pain-relieving joy.

Carl from L.A. said...

Hope you are feeling better since then, Robin.

New pic, I like.