Well, hey, I have some good news and I have some bad news.
The good news is that it turns out that I’m not a hypochondriac! That’s good to know.
But, uh, the bad news is that I’m not a hypochondriac.
I published that post a couple of days ago at about quarter after nine in the morning. As I wrote it I was still wrestling with the whole “Am I actually sick or am I just FEARFUL of becoming sick and also something of a drama queen?” Honestly, I was ready to believe I was MAKING myself sick with fear ABOUT getting sick. As I’ve discussed here before, I’m extremely emetaphobic and easily freaked out about any sort of stomach ailment. So I totally COULD’VE been upsetting my stomach with just worry and fear.
Except that by 1:00 in the afternoon, we were on our way to the hospital.
I don’t know if it’s because I have a particularly rotten immune system or because—as my dad says—I don’t ever do anything halfway or because I’m just not a very large person, but almost every time I get a stomach bug, I end up in the ER. Sure, my brother-in-law had this bug the day before me, and as I was laying on a gurney getting three bags of IV fluid he went to work because he was feeling much better. I don’t get it.
People who bounce right back from these things make me a little suspicious. Of course, I may just be a delicate flower. A delicate flower who alternated laying on her husband and crying “What is taking them so long?” and running to the bathroom in the ER waiting room, that is.
The ER did not appear to be terribly busy, but I guess it can be hard to tell (it’s not like they work the traumas in the waiting room or anything), and besides, I’m pretty sure it’s a law that you have to wait in the waiting room for at least an hour or two. Once they finally took me in for triage, my 102 fever and the fact that my blood pressure was bottomed out won me a place to lie down, at least, until they finally took me back to a little not-quite-a-room that looked like it may have been a converted closet.
Then they took me for abdominal x-rays (apparently “I have a stomach bug” is not enough evidence for them), removed half my blood, and finally hooked me up to an IV. I spent most of that time quietly weeping because it was Christmas Eve and I wanted to be with my kids and also not to feel like I was dying. Otto had just about calmed me down from all of that by the time they got the IV hooked up, and then I cried for the next hour until the nurse finally came and gave me some Zofran and I no longer felt like I was going to puke up my toenails at any moment.
It was not entirely their fault that it took so long to get me the Zofran. Like I said, it was pretty quiet there, at first, but by the time they took me back two things had happened: A trauma came in, and Francine arrived.
I don’t know what was up with the trauma… I mean, you know, other than that it was a trauma, and also that my nurse disappeared for a long time and then came back wearing a different set of scrubs (eek), but I know what was up with Francine. As did everyone else in the ER.
Francine was… not happy.
Francine is apparently a frequent flier to that particular hospital, and I was able to gather that she lives in some sort of group home. And also that she was extremely pissed at everyone.
“NURSE! NUUUUUURSE!” she would bellow.
“I’ll be right there,” my nurse called back, mildly.
“YOU MUTHER****ING A$$HOLE!” Francine would respond, before letting loose with a stream of even more creative insults. (My favorite was when they finally stationed three security guys outside her door, and she started calling them all dildos.) “YOU CAN’T KEEP ME HERE! I WANNA GO HOME! THEY STOLE ALL MY STUFF!”
Yeah. It was like that.
Periodically I would fall asleep, only to be awoken by another of Francine’s missives.
My favorite was when she unleashed a stream of expletives on the nurse that would’ve made a trucker blush, and in the middle of her rant she she said that all she wanted was a cup of coffee, and the nurse was able to pipe up, “Oh, did you want some coffee? I can get you some coffee.”
“Yes,” said Francine. “I want coffee. With cream, and two Sweet-n-Los.”
“No problem,” said the nurse. “Let me go get that right now.”
“THANK YOU!” called Francine.
Francine was full of surprises, is my point. (Don’t worry—about five seconds after she got her coffee, she was screaming again.)
Someone who I assume was a social worker stopped by to see her, and she hypnotized Francine with her syrupy voice and Francine settled down for a little bit. Then she asked Francine if she remembered her, because she’d taken care of her the last time she was here. No, Francine didn’t remember. “Oh, sure you do,” crooned the woman. “I remember YOU plain as day. You had that little frog-baby with you, remember?”
“MY BABY!” shrieked Francine. “WHERE’S MY BABY?? I WANT MY BABY! THEY STOLE IT! YOU HAVE TO GET MY BABY! THOSE MUTHER****ERS!”
Nice job, social worker. They teach you those moves in school?
So that was how Otto and I spent Christmas Eve. Several hours after they’d first hooked me up they offered me some morphine, and I am NO FOOL and also had developed a lovely migraine from being so dehydrated, so I accepted and may also have declared my deep love for the nurse. After the morphine I was able to sit up and play with my iPhone for a while, and shortly thereafter I lurched to the bathroom with my various tubes and wires and a sterile container. When the nurse next returned I announced that I’d brought him some pee! And because he’d spent most of his shift dealing with Francine, he didn’t seem to even find that all that weird.
We got home at about 10 at night, and I drank half a glass of ginger ale and took some more Zofran and went to bed. Several hours later I got up to throw up the ginger ale, but (pleaseohpleaseohplease) that was the last evidence of illness.
Yesterday Otto retrieved the kids from their dad (and I am very grateful that he was so flexible about scheduling, although I’m sure that my having spent the night in the hospital helped) and they were able to join us here for Christmas dinner. My sister-in-law and various contributors (Otto’s siblings and my sis-in-law’s parents) put out an impressive spread, starting the day with Christmas cake and potato casserole, and then moving on to a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings—turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, both turkey gravy and mushroom gravy (Chickadee is pleased to have a vegetarian uncle!), stuffing, breads, cranberry sauces, assorted pies, the works.
I had a cup of water and half a piece of bread. For dessert I had a cup of tea. Merry Christmas!
So, um, not my favorite Christmas ever, but it turned out pretty well in spite of everything.
And I hope Francine got her frog baby back.