“Noooooo! I don’t want to!”
“You dragged me out of an event to come home. You claim you’ve never been sicker. You loose all rights to say ‘I don’t want to go to the doctor’ when you inconvenience me like this. Get dressed.” He throws me a handful of clothes, and I pull them on, pouting.
At the doctor’s office, I’m handed a thermometer. I place it so I have a good view of the reading as it goes up. 98.6 comes and goes quickly. It ends at 101.4: a fever. He gives me the world’s largest ibuprofen. “Oh,” I say, “I haven’t eaten.” He says it’s fine. “Really?!” I say. I was raised to believe that if so much as consider taking a single Advil without food it will eat through my stomach lining and give me horrible ulcers for life. He promises it will be ok. I take it and feel daring.
My ears are both infected. Rob looks triumphant; justification for him dragging me to the doctor is achieved! “Quit smiling!” I snip at him. He smiles bigger.
“Did your friend have mono?” the doc asks. Rob calls Tracy to see if that’s what she has. She is tickled by our random phone call, and reports negative on the mono. He draws blood for it anyway. Negative.
He pokes at my abdomen. Everything is fine until he gets to my spleen, which hurts so badly when it’s pressed I instinctively grab his arm and fling it off of me. Getting hit a lot as a kid makes me really quick to react rather violently if I’m hurt, even in a doctor’s office. I say I’m sorry, and so does he. Then pokes it half a dozen more times while apologizing, and I choke back tears.
He shakes his head. “I can’t explain it. You should go to the ER for a CAT scan. Better safe than sorry.” He looks truly concerned, and a lot like a handsome version of Andy Milder. These two things have always charmed me about this doctor, which, irrational as it may be, makes me more prone to listen to him, so I agree to go. (Not that the illness drill sergeant I married would have given me a choice.)
Rob worries about me, I worry about the waiting around I know we’re going to have to do, and we both worry about what this is going to cost us.
The girl who checks me in at the ER has a very inappropriate shirt on. Her belly and boobs are barely contained, and it’s distracting and unclassy. She asks me a variety of questions while I try not to stare and judge.
“Religion?” she asks and I’m caught totally off guard. “Um… none?” Then I think: Is this a good enough answer? I know why she’s asking: if I’m on the brink of death they’ll need to know which kind of religious leader to call to usher me into the great beyond. Later, I thought of so many other cool answers I could have given. When I started listing them to Rob he pointed out that the ER was not the time to start fucking with people, because he was playing Sensible Spouse that day. (We take turns.)
The triage nurse is cute and freckled. She asks me if I smoke or drink. I say no, and then go, “Oh, well! I mean, I drink, but not really, but I mean, a beer or two…” She nods and laughs. “I always catch people with that one!” I like her and start to think, “Ok, this is not so bad.”
The beds are set up in groups of two, and I’m lead to one with a sleeping woman in the other one. “Take off your clothes and put this on,” I’m told. Ugh. A hospital gown? I take off my shirt only and pull it on. Rob ties me up in the back, and I make him promise nothing is showing.
The nurse who comes to draw my blood either has one HELL of a hangover or the general personality of Velcro. I try to make her cheer up, because, for the love, if you’re going to shove something three inches into a major vein in my arm, you can at least crack a half-assed smile. Right?
Rob squeezes my foot and I talk to him about the dogs as she draws about four gallons of blood.
I look down after she leaves and am horrified to discover that she left the IV in my arm in case they needed more blood, or to start me on a drip. This is protocol for the hospital, but I was not expecting this, and it scared me half-crazy. I begged every doctor that came by after that to take it out, (they wouldn’t) and refused to bend my arm for the entire stay.
Rob distracts me from the IV with funny stories and corny jokes, and we giggle together. I move my arm and feel it, and I wince. He pats my shoulder. “This is that, ‘In sickness’ part!” I quip. He smiles. I smile. We both love when he is being husbandly and I am being wifely, even if the current situation is not exactly a trip to Disney World.
All non-patients are kicked out the ER so the doctors can do rounds. We tried to bargain with everyone to let Rob stay, but no luck. I start to sob, loudly, while three ER workers talked to me in soothing, condescending tones. Eventually he leaves, and I feel so scared and alone. We are like this, and having him there made me feel safe. Now I feel vulnerable. This has gone from not so bad to sucking the big one.
Three different doctors poked my abdomen (which stopped hurting so badly, even when I tried to make it hurt), and we decided on a few different things: a CAT scan for my spleen was too drastic. An ultrasound was better, less radiation. Then: No ultrasound, a chest xray was needed to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia spreading pain to my lower left abdomen. Eventually: an ultrasound AND an xray. I was wheeled (because I could not walk?!) to another room where the xray was, and left to wait, which I did glumly, with tears pouring down my face. Rob would be back, and not know where I went. When it was my turn, I told the tech I needed to talk to my husband and the doctor before the xray.
“What for?” he asked, in a really heavy Dominican accent, and in a tone that was really condensing and made me hate him instantly.
“I need to figure out if I can afford all of this stuff. Now I have to have two major tests done, and I want to find out how much they are first, and see if I can do one now and one later, or if I can skip one all together and if I can, which one should it be. So I will need to speak to my HUSBAND and THE DOCTOR before my xray.” I said all this while choking on my own tears, which made me feel like a weenie, but I was being as firm as possible. I don’t let myself get pushed into things, ever, even if I have to sob through standing my ground.
“Lady,” he started, and I saw red. Lady?! For real? Oh hell no you didn’t!
“Lady, this is the ER! Medicade will pay for it!”
“I. Don’t. Have. Insurance.” I said, and rolled my eyes.
“Well, someone is going to pay for it! This is New York! Just do what you need and figure it out later.” he said, chuckling. My inner conservative went batshit.
“I DON’T OPERATE ON THAT LEVEL! IF I HAVE A BILL I’M PAYING IT!” I would have gone on and on about how it’s that very attitude that is destroying the medical system in the United States, but I was fevered, and weepy and too freaked out about the stupid thing still stuck in my arm. And he was dumb anyway. I doubt he would have understood.
He slammed out of the xray room and went to the front desk where Rob heard him bitching about me. Asshole.
The cute Asian doctor heard me out and decided I could skip both tests and if something were to start bothering me, I should come back.
“One thing, though” he said “did we get a urine sample?”
Do you know how hard it is to pee, neatly, into a tiny cup while refusing to bend one arm?! I’ll spare you the logistics, but I did it. One word: Keagles. That sounds like a breakfast food, but it’s not.
He gave me a huge cup of water to drink to get my heart rate down before he would let me leave. When I came in it was 120, and the water took it to 74.
He took the IV out of my arm (FINALLY!) and we went home.
I’ve learned my lesson: don’t tell Rob to come home if I’m sick.