It was not an unfamiliar pain as my stomach bloated, following a working lunch of chili and a salad with lots of raw broccoli and cauliflower. It happens occasionally, and whenever it does, I know that I am in for several hours of great discomfort.
But I had a long drive home on Friday afternoon, going east from Kitchener, first along the 401, then the 407 and then north on the 400, a small droplet in the stream of dedicated cottagers, laden with canoes, sleeping bags and coolers, who were escaping the concrete jungle for the sparkling lakes and forests of northern Ontario, at the speed of --well, let's just say it wasn't "lightning."
When I got home, I headed for bed as soon as I could. Tiffany-Amber and Victoria's piano recital was at 7.00 p.m. and I was determined not to miss it. Seeing them, all dressed up in white and pink respectively; long hair and eyes both shining, recital adrenalin pumping through them; I had to go. So I belatedly took some Beano, counted the minutes until we had to leave, and lay down.
After the recital, home and feeling chilled and sick, I made my way to bed and tried to get to sleep. But the pain was getting worse, not better. I got up and looked up my symptoms on the Internet and decided that I had better get to the hospital.
Paul's eyes registered deep concern as he threw on some clothes and grabbed his car keys. In short minutes we were on our way and in his mission to get me there as fast as possible, he might as well have had flashing lights on the car. He screeched up to the doors of the Emergency department, letting me off, while he left to park the car.
I must have been a sorry sight. I had thrown on the most warm and comfortable things I could find to wear, without regard for appearance, but I blended in well with a bunch of other pale faced sorry sights, sitting in the dimly lit room. I felt sorriest for the moms with cranky babies.
Headed with relief for the registration desk, I stated the obvious, "I need to see a doctor." And then--some sadistic soul must have thought this up--the woman behind the desk said, "Oh, you need to take a number first and go see a nurse at the triage desk when it is called."
"A number?" I was number 99, and they were working on number 80. Oh, this was not good news.
Paul, my "action man," was disbelieving when he caught up with me. Well, I didn't actually take much "catching up" with by then, as things had pretty much ground to a halt.
But to my relief, when the nurse at the triage desk started calling numbers in the 90's, she went through 91-98 in rapid succession. I didn't want to get missed. I think I might have elbowed number 100 out of the way by this point. "I'm number 99," called, on my way to the desk.
"Some people take a bunch of numbers hoping they'll get in quicker that way," she said, by way of explanation.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," I thought to myself.
I described my symptoms, which by now were, bloating, and burning pain in the abdomen, coming in waves. She asked me where I would rate the pain on a scale of 1-10. I said, "Well, right at this moment, it is a 6, but a minute ago, it was 11." I hoped that she would remember that I said the pain was in waves.
"You only have up to 10," she said.
"No sense of humour," I thought.
The nurse told me to go and wait until called, and then I felt the first of several urges that night to vomit. There was no time to look for a washroom but fortunately I spotted a stack of kidney shaped plastic vomit receptacles. It is pretty pathetic when you don't care that you are retching in a room full of strangers.
The night turned into an exercise in endurance. We finally made it to the other side of the door, from the outer waiting room to the inner sanctum waiting room, "Waiting," being the operative word.
We waited from 11.30 p.m. to about 6.30 a.m. and Paul got into an altercation with the doctor, which I am sure resulted in me waiting even longer. "My wife has been sitting here for 3 hours in severe pain," he plead with the doctor. The probably tired and stressed doctor replied in automaton fashion, telling him to keep waiting. Paul went back a few minutes later and told him that emphatically that he was rude.
When the night shift changed to the morning shift, a wonderfully, caring and gentle doctor took over, with a fresh and caring nursing staff. Sensitive hands palpated my tender stomach. They hooked me up to an I.V. with morphine and did an ultra sound looking for signs of appenditis or bowel obstruction.
The doctor came back after a while to say that he could see no obvious reason for the pain that required surgery. It felt so good to be so well taken care of and that he had considered every possibility seriously. He said to come back immediately if thepain persisted, but it had changed from burning waves by then to a dull ache, and he sent us off with a prescription for Tylenol 3.
It was such a blessing to arrive back at home in the early afternoon and go to bed, groggy, but grateful.
I couldn't help but think of the comedian Brian Regan's skit, "Emergency Room," to which I can suddenly relate! (Thanks Greg and Frank, for introducing me to this funny man.)