My wife is tough. The woman went through natural childbirth then elected, of her own freewill, to do it all over again. So this past Fourth of July weekend, when she started complaining of pain in her side, it needed to be addressed. The pain got to the point where it kept her up at night (which would be the pain equivalent of being in an Anaconda Choke hold by Brock Lesner) so she thought it best to call her doctor.
She listed her symptoms to her doctor through clenched teeth, which to him, screamed of something wrong with her gall bladder. It also screamed of ‘nothing he could do at his office’, so her doctor told her to go directly to the Emergency Room. My wife hung up the phone and our mad scramble to the emergency room began. Making calls to try and find a babysitter, taking the dog out, shave (Have you ever had to wait in an emergency room? I’m surprised I didn’t pay the mortgage before I left too.), and thanks to our mothers, put on some clean underwear.
Usually going to the ER, I would suspect any ER, is a bit like spending countless hours standing in line for a rollercoaster that sucks. Sitting and waiting is a major theme of the ER unless major appendage loss is involved. Maybe it was had to do with how early we arrived or sheer luck, but our coffee cup coaster buzzer, the one you get to signal when it’s your turn (or your table at Applebee’s is ready) started buzzing blue soon after sitting down. The Motrin’s my wife had gobbled earlier in the morning to help with the pain were beginning to wear off so the blue lights going off were a welcomed sight.
We started down the hallways of what was like a modern day Minos’ Labyrinth. It was a shame I didn’t have bread crumbs with me to leave a trail on how to get back because I was lost after the first right turn we took (as far as I could tell, we were three miles below the surface of the Earth after the 2nd left turn). We were led through multiple doors and finally ended up saying ‘hello’ to Exam Room 10 (E-10) which, little did we know at the time, would be our home away from home for the next 9 hours.
E-10 was a typical hospital exam room. The gurney was in the middle of the room, blinking lights came from computer monitors on the walls, a privacy curtain separating the room in half hung from the ceiling, 7 different sizes of rubber gloves hung from metal holders on the wall, there was a ‘Pain’ scale from 0-10 on the wall (by the end of all of this, both of us were at level ‘8’: Miserable/Distressing.). The floor was a mix of black, grey, beige, and blue tiles and the entire room smelled sterile.
A nurse came in, introduced herself to us then promptly told my wife to get undressed and in to a hospital gown.
Nurses, techs, and the doctor all came in and out throughout the day. My wife only smiled once, when the nurse with the “stuff to make the pain go away” came in (actually twice, the other time was when that nurse came back with more). According to everyone who had poked, prodded, and questioned my wife, all indications were she had something wrong with her gall bladder. After the blood and urine tests and x-rays came back negative, everyone started to ‘reconsider’ the diagnosis which might be a medical term for ‘we don’t have a clue’.
In between all the tests, we both slept…uncomfortably. I wandered the hallways trying to find an ‘Exit’ or the surface world hoping to find the snack machine. And as quickly as we had gotten settled in to E-10 was as slowly as the entire process was now taking.
A CAT Scan was suggested and we agreed because we wanted an answer no matter how long it would take to get (which I assumed was always a figure of speech until the 9 hours we spent in E-10) Thankfully my wife was drugged, the pain was hidden and she seemed to be enjoying the pretty colors she saw in the room when she was taken up for the CAT Scan.
In the end, after almost nine hours, two doses of pain reducing narcotics, four trips for snack machine food and bad coffee, one IV and one trap, and four butt flashings to the nurses’ station going to the bathroom, it was determined my wife was suffering from a urinary tract infection and an ovarian cyst.
Alicia and I both let out a sigh of relief. The gall bladder was good. No more poking, prodding, or scans. No cutting, anesthesia, no removal of bodily organs. Nothing so serious a 250mg twice a day prescription of Cipro and Percocet wouldn’t clear up. Best of all, Alicia got to get dressed and we got to say ‘goodbye’ to the nurses, doctor, the gurney, the blinking lights coming from computer monitors on the walls, the privacy curtain separating the room in half, the 7 different sizes of rubber gloves hung from metal holders on the wall, the ‘Pain’ scale, and the mix of black, grey, beige, and blue floor tiles of our home away from home, E-10.