Two words: school and appendicitis.
School is the usual exhilarating but tedious bear that demands constant attention. This first year has been difficult but I’ve survived. Greek continues to be difficult but I’m beginning to see patterns, which is encouraging. Our course book is quite good in that it encourages the memorization of patterns. If you understand enough of the rules, you’re not stumped as much when you encounter a difficult passage.
“What?!?? Appendicitis?!? Why are you still blathering on about Greek?”
I started to feel a bit nauseated the Monday following our church’s Easter drama. By Tuesday, this had developed into a very painful stomach ache. But never fear, good readers of America, the wife was on the case. When I checked my e-mail that morning, I was greeted by a WebMD diagnosis for appendicitis. It’s freaky what the wife catches that I completely miss.
I went to work to knock out a necessary items and left. The pain and nausea returned and my wife called to check on me.
“I really think you should go to the doctor.”
“Which one?” I answered, meaning “Which one will our insurance cover?”
“Hmm. Let me call the insurance people and then I’ll call you back. I can’t remember which hospital we’re supposed to go to.”
Oh, the joys of having a medical crisis in a new city with a new insurance plan.
“I’m just going to go home and die on the couch. I can’t cope with this right now. Just have the pastor say something nice at my funeral.”
“OK, but I am going home.”
“I’m leaving right now and I’ll come pick you up.”
“Thank you. I really appreciate it, love.”
She came home to find me balled up on the couch. I didn’t even say hello.
She drives me to St. Joseph’s Hospital. There was a crazy homeless looking guy with really bad jailhouse tattoos of his girlfriend/wife/daughter complaining of the long waiting time, while his friend who spoke only very loud crazy Spanish, laughed at everything he did and wore a white straw cowboy hat became equally disgusted and left, too.
Then tattoo man returned, left and returned again.
Then Senor cowboy left and returned.
Then they and the seemingly normal woman who accompanied them left for good. No one was treated.
A mother came by with three children, one of whom was very loud. He became even louder when they took a blood sample. The mother ate a sandwich and didn’t see the pickle drop on the floor. She also missed her toddler’s bloody gauze on the floor.
Fox News blared its interpretation of fair-and-balanced news on the waiting room television while I waited to be called.
“Eesh. Feels like I’m back at boot camp.”
My wife brought my meds in a clear plastic bag like the good, upright citizens we are and marched into the nurses office to tell her precisely what was wrong and what needed to happen.
So we chatted with the good-natured nurse who jotted a few notes, who was dispensing medical advice on everything from exercise to lowering cholesterol. I smiled and silently wondered to myself if we’d ever get out of there.
We did. About an hour later I see a young blonde across the hall say “JAY RIVERA.”
She was unseasonably, unnaturally tan with that frosted hair of indeterminate color. She had a tattoo on her lower back and her lanyard had a picture of her son. She was talking with another heavyset lab tech with even more tattoos and had a thing, apparently, for middle aged Hispanic men who hang out in emergency rooms hunched over in pain. Lucky me.
I escaped and hobbled back to my wife. An hour later, probably close to 4:30 p.m., we were called by a humorless but kindly young woman who led us to a private room. I napped for another 30 minutes or more before the doctor showed up. She was a shrewd older woman with proudly, defiantly undyed hair and black, thick-rimmed glasses. She pushed and poked my belly. She even asked me if it hurt more when the belly sprang back, something I learned later was rebound tenderness.
The doctor mentioned that the blood work didn’t show a high blood cell count associated with an infection — yes, in case you were wondering, appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, which also fills with pus. Hope you weren’t hungry. Still, she ordered a CT scan as a precaution, which showed an unusually long and angry appendix. The wife gloated in front of the doctor. It hurt while I laughed.
So, a surgeon reviewed the results and said that yes, the appendix had to come out. At about 9 p.m. I had it removed. I spent an hour in the recovery room and shortly after I woke up, I saw my wife who looked great, even at the end of a difficult day. Someone wheeled me into my room and the wife and I laughed at Leno’s opening monologue. Life was good.
I woke up Wednesday in a bit of pain. The appearance of Jell-O, chicken broth and a Popsicle cast a pall over the morning, as I envisioned a week-long liquid diet. Then, amazingly, the skies parted and in walked what can only be described as a messenger of God, holding a plate of eggs, potatoes, sausage and oatmeal. Woohoo.
Until my Friday afternoon checkout, I had busied myself with a great thriller, Chop Shop by Tim Downs. Which was great because I had to share a television with the geezer in the next room who was hard of hearing. Since we don’t own a television, I’m constantly looking for opportunities to sneak in a few hours of my former favorite pastime.
He also kept telling each nurse in the room that he had to pee, and each time the nurses patiently informed him that he had a catheter. He also was in quite a bit of pain due to back surgery, and didn’t know how to work the morphine pump. So I decided to keep quiet and let him have the run of the television, which he didn’t watch much anyway.
When the nurses weren’t dealing with him, they were emptying my urinal from the endless supply of IVs I was given. They brought me meals, gave me meds and without fail would cheerfully ask, “Mr. Rivera, are you passing gas?”
They would coo, smile approvingly and say “Oh, good,” when I replied in the affirmative. I was too embarrassed to say what I really wanted to say — or do. But it’s still a great gag that I enjoy at every opportunity now that I’m home. A real gas. Die Tootenfuhrer lives.
So, here it is, Monday, April 16 and I’m doing much better. I expect to return to work later this week. For family and friends who heard about this through WifeNews Network, thanks for your prayers, calls and offers to smuggle in something from Jack In The Box.