I Went To The Emergency Room And All I Got Was This Stupid Kidney Stone.
I would just like to point out that I know pain. When I gave birth to my twins I went through a 4 chamber heart probe AND back labor at the same time while the cardiologist readied the crash cart and told my OB/GYN “Watch out, this one’s a bleeder, I can just tell.” I handled it all with a level of calm and dignity that I like to think made my pioneer ancestors proud–like my Great-Great Grandmother Josephine, who had as I’ve said crossed the nation in a covered wagon and remember, she bore 12 children. So I ignored the dull throbbing of my right kidney all last week until it started blooming ominously into a searing, radiating pattern in my back that felt like the wanding of a red-hot curling iron on Friday night.
Friday night. Of course, it was Friday night. Not Tuesday afternoon when I could have seen my regular doctor. But Friday night: guaranteed $500.00 deductible, fighting with the gang-bangers for chair space at the Emergency Room Night. I was still with it enough to make sure I was wearing clean underwear and brushed my teeth. Todd stared at me in the bathroom mirror.
“What are you doing? You have to go to the ER!”
I bent double with the next red-hot pulse of agony then straightened up enough to spit into the sink. “I’m putting on matching undies and brushing my teeth. You think I’m going in there with my–owwwwwww! Crap! That hurts! With my ‘laundry day’ undies on? You think I’m a savage?”
My spouse sighed and took me by the arm, dragging me to the car. “So, did you get a babysitter?”
“What?” I managed through gritted teeth.
“Did you get a babysitter?” Todd repeatedly slowly, like I was his deaf Aunt Sophie. “So I can drive you?”
I thought about kicking him but wasn’t sure I could get out of my crab-like crouch enough to do it. “No. I didn’t. Because you’d tell them to unplug me the second I closed my eyes to sneeze. Why do you think I never pay our life insurance premium ’till the last minute? I never want you to be sure,” I hissed.
“Fine.” He threw the door open with a dramatic flourish. “I’ll just stay and care for our children! Drive yourself!”
(screen cap: History Channel)
Now, granted, it’s literally only like 3 blocks to the University Medical Center and it’s not that big of a deal. But I knew he’d been watching “Ice Road Truckers” and he was pretty sure someone was going through the ice carrying that load of steel girders. I’m not saying The Todd’s didn’t want me to interrupt his Ice Truck fantasies, but…
I staggered into the ER and knew right away that I should have had the foresight to bring my own bed and a mini-fridge. There was going to be a wait. To the left, three Rappa/gangsta’ wannabes were sitting with their surprisingly cheerful buddy who was wedging his jacket against a knife wound. To my right, a stoic older gent who had a bloody towel wrapped around his wrist and was gently cradling what looked suspiciously like a severed limb. I knew that morally, Knife Fight Dude and Severed Limb Old-Timer deserved to go first. But as I bent double from what felt like the poke of a sizzling cattle prod, I knew I would be willing to take on the goth guy in the corner, shaved head in his hands and rocking back and forth. Just as I was trying to remember how to spell my last name for the admission papers whilst curled in half from my latest kidney punch from the Spiked Glove Of Death, Goth Guy groaned loudly and toppled to the floor. What happened next looked like the time I knocked my little sister’s ant farm off her dresser. Green scrubs raced from every door while the security guard stood over the prone Goth Guy with arms out, barking “Give ‘im room! Don’t approach!” like he was JayZ coming off the stage at Madison Square Garden. I was coming out of a spasm in time to raise my head as he passed me on the stretcher, a tiny, satisfied smile curving his lips that only I could see.
I was simply beside myself with betrayal and rage. That weasel! And what am I going to say? “Hey, he cheated!” Pointing an accusing finger like he’d tried to sneak a peek at my math test? I lost any semblance of dignity after another hour of scorching kicks in the small of my back from the razor wire sneakers of the Demon of Deep Despair and started grabbing at feet passing by me covered in paper booties. “I’m dying here!” I shrieked. Somewhere in the Heavens, my Great-Great Grandmother Josephine was shaking her head with unutterable contempt.
The next thing I remember was my little cubicle, where a scrub suited vampire started briskly poking at my arm like I was a frog in her seventh-grade biology final. “Your veins,” she said disapprovingly, “they are very flat. I’ve worked on cadavers with better blood pressure than this.” I was actually beginning to hope she was right and I’d been granted the Sweet Release Of Death. Unfortunately, in the next minute, she’d managed to find a stable vein, along with leaving me enough puncture marks for a credible gang tattoo.
Hey, did you know there is a thing called Toradol? And when it enters your veins, unicorns and fluffy bunnies come to carry you gently away to Cotton Candy Mountain. I was holding hands with my EMT and we were singing “Same Love” when the doctor came in to tell me I had kidney stones. “Ohhhhkkkaaaay…” I sang. My EMT buddy and I moved on to “Wrecking Ball” as Toradol continued its blissful excursion.
My cellphone rang and it was my mother. “Todd called, he’s very worried about you. He says you’re in the ER.”
“Yes,” I sang off-key, “I have kiiiddnneeey stoooones.”
“Are you wearing decent underwear? This better not be laundry day!” Mary Helen said sternly. “I’ll bet you look like some homeless woman!”
I spent the rest of the night eagerly listening to all the truly horrifying stories the ER guys could think of. When The Todd arrived to pick me up, I was deep in a discussion with one of the doctors about what happens when intestines liquify from necrosis. My beloved spouse carefully placed one large hand over my mouth and thanked the staff politely for all their help. He was green around the gills as he strapped me into the front seat.
“Did I actually hear you use the phrase ‘degloved limb’?”
“Yes! Do you want to hear? There was this one guy who came in and–” Todd immediately handed me two Lortab and a water bottle.
“Night night, honey.”