Before driving to the hospital I cleaned up my desk at work, called my kids (Baby Girl was worried, Unhappy College Girl would have been worried if I'd been an animal, and my son didn't answer his phone), my mother (who said to please let her know as soon as I found out anything), and Hans, who much to my dismay said he was driving up as soon as he was done with work. It was the beginning of January and we were supposed to be getting a lot of snow that day (remember, I lived in a snow belt), and Hans (who lived an hour and a half south of me) is one of those people who think All Wheel Drive = I Can Drive Through Anything. I pleaded with him to wait until the next morning but he refused.
I had an uncomfortable moment at the hospital check in desk when I thought I might have an 'episode' right then and there, but with sweat standing out on my forehead I managed to persevere.
Then I named Hans as my emergency contact and told the check in lady that his relationship to me was 'fiance' (which he wasn't at that time) because I thought 'boyfriend' sounded pathetic for someone my age. Why the hell I was worried about what someone I didn't know thought of me when I felt like I was dying is beyond me! I sometimes wonder if she told her family about the woman who couldn't remember her so called fiance's address. Yes, that would be me! But I think I deserve points for knowing his last name and phone number.
Finally I was taken to a room, given a gown, had my blood pressure and other vital signs taken, and then if I'd been embarrassed before, it was nothing compared to what I was told next.
The nurse took me into my bathroom and showed me the inside of the toilet. To my horror it held two bowl-like trays balanced on the edges and abutting (no pun intended) each other; one in front and one in back. All of my 'eliminations' were to be measured she explained, I told her that there was no way that was going to happen, and by then I was almost in tears.
But before I knew it I was in bed, an IV was started, and within about a half hour the pain medication began to take effect, and for the first time in two weeks I found myself relaxing. My God, I was able to take a breath without grimacing and I quit clenching my teeth every time I moved.
My gastroenterologist popped in to introduce himself and ask some questions. Later on my mother (who has the inside track on everything within about a hundred mile radius of her house) was told by her friend, who used to be a nurse at this hospital, that I really lucked out that Mr. Good Doctor had been assigned to me. For that I was thankful because if she'd thought he was a quack, I never would have heard the end of it.
I told Mr. Good Doctor about my ulcer theory, about the past month with my daughter, and the root canal, but I didn't tell him my deepest, darkest fear. And that was that I was sure I had pancreatic cancer. I'm not joking either. I was terrified.
I was pretty sure I didn't have ulcers because they just don't develop that fast, but I was hanging onto that hope with everything I had.
Because what else could it be? What else moves in so fast and debilitates a person so quickly? Everyone knows that by the time pancreatic cancer starts showing its signs, it's pretty much too late. I've known people who were diagnosed with this awful cancer and I couldn't get it out of my mind.
But this doctor had a nice bedside manner and when he left he told me he'd see me at nine the next morning and then I was alone. Or pretty much alone as my roommate was fast asleep, but with the curtain between us closed, it was like a private room.
I quietly watched some TV, thoroughly enjoyed being pain free, and loved the fact that I obviously had the best roommate in the world when my hospital phone rang (no cell phones allowed). It was Hans and he was getting ready to leave The Big City and head up my way. It was snowing and sleeting but also for some bizarre reason they were also in the middle of a lightening storm. In January.
I begged him to wait until morning as there was nothing he could do anyway but he wouldn't listen to me. He was just pulling into the driveway of his old house (it was for sale but he didn't live in it) because he had one last thing he had to do. I could hear him slamming the door on the SUV and then he was in the house, all the while talking to me. And then he said, "What the hell's going on? There's a white vehicle at the bottom of my driveway and no one should be here." And then he yelled, "Oh my God, it's the SUV! How did it get all the way down the driveway? I'll call you back!"
No longer feeling relaxed and pain free, I waited.
He called me back shortly, completely out of breath, and explained that somehow when he'd parked at the top of the driveway (one of those drives with a level part that then has about a 45 degree drop to the lower part) somehow he left the vehicle in D(rive) but was able to remove the key. By the time he'd walked to the back of the house it had coasted to the bottom of the drive, and was wedged on the foot high stone wall that had thankfully stopped it from rolling further into the yard where it would have gone over a cliff and onto the houses below.
After pulling huge stones out of the wheel wells and ascertaining that he hadn't damaged the frame or undercarriage, he was completely frozen and soaked.
Once again I begged him to stay put and once again he refused.
I hung up the phone and started crying again. I was so worn out and tired of being sick, I felt guilty that Hans had wrecked his vehicle and why did I have to cause everyone so much trouble. My mind and guts continued to churn, and when I tried to use the potty my IV pole was too tall and I had to leave the bathroom door open. So as I tried not to think about who was going to get to check my 'eliminations' I also had to worry that someone would walk in on me!
And then I found out what agony really was, because my roommate woke up.
Part III to follow.