Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Summer of Sick

I used to work with a person who cornered me daily to relate horror stories of her Crohn's disease -- and while I tried to listen and be sympathetic, I also started inventing ways to avoid her. Sorry! Not now! I'm trying untangle all these cords going into my monitor! Or I would roll my eyes, apologizing for the fake phone call I was fielding just as she walked past my cubicle.

It was simply draining, listening to the sad litany of her complaints.

And so, dear reader, I sympathize with you. I doubt you've been thrilled by my tales of strep throat, toothache and Will's man-child illnesses. So I hesitated to write this post.

A week ago, S. asked me what was next for my blog.

I shrugged. "No idea."

"What about your abscess? You could tell all about your five-and-a-half hour tour in the ER."

Um, yeah. I laughed uncomfortably. Just thinking about it made me want to take a Percocet. (What's to tell, anyway? Innocuous-seeming bump on inner thigh quickly becomes horrific mass, the dimensions of which made me gasp when viewed in the bathroom mirror. "How are you feeling?" Will asked, and I burst into tears. "All you need is a pore-sized opening in the skin," the internist explained much, much later, when the waiting room had filled and emptied twice and all the serious cases had been dealt with, "and just a teensy bit of bacteria to get in there, and then, voila!" I languished in the trauma room, clutching the skimpy gown to my body and waiting for the painkillers to kick in. In the meantime, I pleaded with God. I promised to throw away my razor. I apologized for thinking a plague of boils wasn't as bad as a plague of toothaches. I wondered if euthanization was a better option than making small talk with a nurse during the painful "lancing and draining" procedure. And then I went home, sat for three days with a hot compress and downed 72 antibiotic pills "just to be safe.")

So it seemed logical to wait for other inspiration, something not abscess related.

Like a nasty bout of gastroenteritis, which struck just as my gaping wound was healing.

"Oh -- you're back again," said the physician's assistant at my doctor's office. "We didn't expect to see you so soon! What's going on?"

"Well, it's just that..." I hoisted myself carefully onto the bed in the examination room. "It sort of feels like something is inside me, sticking its foot in my ribs. Not a baby. Well, maybe an alien baby."

She chuckled, strapping the velcro blood pressure cuff around my arm. "I remember that about you. You always have such creative complaints."

"I'd rather be boring and healthy," I confessed, wincing as the cuff inflated, squeezing my arm.

"Blood pressure fine," she said, tossing me a paper gown. "I'll send the doctor in to see you."

There was nothing to do except stare at the ceiling, wait for my diagnosis and pray for an end to the summer of sick.

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