Back in the middle of August I was working in the nursery on a Wednesday night when all of a sudden my stomach region gave me the finger and I collapsed to the floor in pain. It might have scared the kids a bit, but not as much if I’d let out the stream of GODDAMNSHITASHOMOTHERFUCKINGCOCKSUCKER THIS HURTS! I don’t have the money to pay for their therapy bills so I managed to keep my mouth shut and just groan with the kind of fervor that hopefully conveyed the above phrase, just, you know, without speaking.
Instead of going to the ER, which I probably should have done, I just kind of ignored it. This is a tradition in my family and why start breaking with tradition now, when I’m so close to 30? We’ve carved out our own breast lumps and sent them off for testing because asking the opinion of the doctor is just like admitting you’re stupid.
The aftershocks were still kicking my ass the next day so I made an appointment with my gastro specialist, a man who is not known for his sympathy or endearing bedside manner. I don’t like him much and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual, but that following Monday I found myself sharing breathing space with him, trying my best to convey that the pain? It had had been bad? And I wanted to stab myself? But couldn’t? Because nurseries are traditionally scarce on sharp objects?
He nodded abrubtly and left the room for some “papers,” coming back fifteen minutes later smelling like ink toner and Chinese food. According to him, I had 45 minutes to drive home, feed my cats, pack a bag and get to the hospital because shift change was at 6:30 and I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle.
And then he turned around and walked out. I told you I didn’t like him, and now you don’t like him either. I hadn’t realized the papers he was referring to were admitting papers and I’m not even sure had he said “I’m going to get your admitting papers” that I would have made a connection between leaving the doctors office and checking into a hospital. Which is apparently not called checking-in, but ‘admitting.’ It’s not the Marriot and I now understand the full truth of that statement.
My first night there I was in a double room, which wasn’t really bothersome because I came prepared with earplugs and a sleeping mask. I’ve been in the ER enough times in my life to remember the BEEP BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKING BEEP of the heart monitor and the DRIP DRIP WHOOSH DRIP DRIP WHOREFACE DRIP DRIP of the IV line. Not conducive to sleeping. What I was not prepared for started very early the next morning on the other side of the curtained area. My cell mate decided she would start her day with some sporadic moaning and thrashing, followed by thirty minutes of violent pacing in her two square feet of allotted space. If you’re wondering how pacing can be violent then just continue reading, because I can’t say with certainty that I wouldn’t have paced violently if my body was about to drop a bomb on me. **Editors note: That’s not funny yet, but it will be.
While my cell mate continued her pacing I played with my heart rate- forcing it up, WHEEEEE! forcing it down, WHHOOOoooooo. Up! Wheeee! Down, Whoooo. I can do this with my blood pressure as well. Freaks the fuck outta nurses, let me tell you. On one of my down swings I noticed that the pacing behind the curtain had gotten sporadic. Pace pace pace stop, listen, slither plop. Pace pace pace stop, listen, slither plop. It took me a good sixty seconds to figure out what the stopping and slither plop was all about and I can tell you that I now look back on those sixty seconds with fondness. Those blessed sixty seconds spent wondering what the hell was going on, right before my olfactory glands kicked in and bitch slapped me.
She was dropping a bomb, all right. Big, goopey diarrhea bombs. On the floor. Now, this mental image probably isn’t the best but I need you to understand my absolute horror- She was pacing (pace pace pace), stopping at her desired location (stop), tilting her head to the side (listen), unleashing the viscous mass (slither) and waiting until it hit the floor (plop) before starting the process again.
I decided I was mature enough to keep my cool and crawled silently out of bed, pulling along my IV stand to the bathroom, praying for some nose relief. But no, that’s not how this game was to be played. The bathroom had already been bombed; the pee-catcher propped on the toilet was overflowing with poop, the floor was covered with poop and the sink handles were smeared with, two guesses, ok, I’ll give it to you- poop.
Outside in the hallway I overheard two nurse-like-people passing by and decided I’d give them their morning dose of What The Fuck.
“Excuse me ladies, my roommate seems to have had an accident.”
“We’ll get to it as soon as we change the sheets down the hall.”
“I’m afraid that would be too late. Here in about five minutes the River Styx will hit the threshold and I’m not sure I can keep last nights tasty dinner of Glucose Drip down while it makes its way under my bed.”
This catches their attention.
“Is she peeing on the floor again?”
“Peeing on the floor? Again? No ma’am. She’s shitting on the floor. And hopefully there won’t be an “again.”
During this conversation we had attracted the attention of three actual nurses who had started making their morning rounds. While catching them up on the situation I happened to raise my right arm to brace myself against the wall. I may not have been as bad off as Ms. Slither Plop, but I wasn’t feeling frisky and standing up plus conversing plus dragging my IV stand around was wearing me out. The fluorescent lights must have caught my arm just right because in my peripheral vision it looked like I had a flesh-colored cantaloupe strapped to my forearm. Right by the IV line. Upon close inspection it turned out that my peripheral vision wasn’t half bad. I DID have a flesh-colored cantaloupe strapped to my forearm.
“Is this a problem?” I asked, pointing to my IV arm.
“Oh, Jesus. How long has it been like that?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure this isn’t supposed to be comfortable but I have a very angry alien baby gestating in my stomach region and I haven’t been keeping track of anything else.”
“Who did your IV last night? My six-year-old daughter could do a better job.”
“That’s nice. Look, now that we’ve started pointing and talking about it, it appears that it really IS painful and I’d like to take it out. I’m not that squeamish- if you want I can just pull out the needle.”
“Uh, no. Let me get Sheila, she can take this out and start you a new line.”
So while I stood in the hallway with a cantaloupe forearm and a roommate with bowels like the Gulf of Mexico, I contemplated my fate. I had been admitted to the hospital, had a sonogram, been given a ridonkulous IV and slept in a room with a woman who has a habit of peeing on the floor. This was not the fluffy cloud where the Carebears live and I was exceptionally tired.