Monday, June 1, 2009

Hitch in my git-along

You know that cold I've been having?

Well, I kept getting sicker and sicker. So through some really top-flight internet research on many different medical sites, I was able to narrow my symptoms down between two illnesses: swine flu and meningitis. Look, I'm just saying....if God formed you into a certain kind of worry-wart person with a slant towards hypochondria, you might as well play to your strengths. Am I right?

Am I?

My family didn't think so. The girls each just gave me a level look, while my husband and father laughed at me and my mother scolded me like a six-year-old. They have no respect for my God-given personality.

But later that night, I SHOWED THEM, I DID! I got to the point where I couldn't draw a deep breath and I was beginning to see those little electric gnats that float around your head when you're getting ready to faint? And I felt weak and dizzy?

SWINE FLU SYMPTOMS, I typed into Google. MENINGITIS SYMPTOMS. Despite the fact that my mother had exhorted me through a combination of prayer and nagging to stay away from the computer. I felt guilty. And also very, very hot. And achey. And just wrong.

I clicked on a link. "If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately," I read. And you know, it's the funniest thing, but when you're having trouble breathing and you read that you should seek medical attention if you're having trouble breathing, all of a sudden, you're having even MORE trouble breathing. Funny how that works out!

"I need to go to urgent care," I said to my husband, rising unsteadily from my desk chair. It was about 9:00 p.m. He sighed in resignation and tore himself away from the baseball scores as I coughed my way through the house and out into the van.

Our conversation on the way across town to the urgent care center went like this, with me gasping out my words like the dying gunshot hero in a cowboy movie:


"You don't have to be sorry. You're sick."

"I know, but...I feel...bad."

"I know."

"I mean, I feel bad...physically, but I also....feel bad, like, emotionally.....Or maybe....spiritually."

"I know."

"I feel....bad emotionally because....I know this will be....expensive."

"That doesn't matter. You're sick."

"And I...feel bad that back on the check my....symptoms after Mom told me not to. You know, spiritually....bad."

He raised one eyebrow. "How old are you? Look, you'd better just try not to talk, with all that coughing and fish-out-of-water business and everything."

Then it was MY turn to raise one eyebrow. Not talk?!? As if!

When we got to the urgent care center, it was closed of course, having shut its doors for the night a mere twenty minutes before we arrived. So we drove back across town to the hospital that is about six blocks away from our home, calling the girls to tell them where we were.

Just as I was getting ready to call them, my husband's phone rang. It was Meelyn. "Hello? Uh-huh....Uh, no, I don't hear them....Wait. Oh, crap, now I do...."

Yup, it was the tornado sirens, shrieking fiercely. As we drove along a residential street toward the hospital, we saw all the homeowners coming out of their houses to stand on their front porches and peer quizzically up at the dark sky. This is how we handle tornado warnings in Indiana: folks in some states head for the basement, but those of us in the Hoosier state go outside and holler across the street to the neighbors, "DO YOU SEE ANYTHING FROM OVER YOUR WAY?"

" the ER entrance...." I wheezed frantically. "Then go....get the....girls!"

My husband immediately saw the soundness of this plan, which is something he isn't often wont to do with my suggestions, proposals or outright commands. He drove me up to the entrance, helped me out and gave me a quick hug and said, "I'll be back in less than ten minutes."

I wobbled into the ER's reception area, whey-faced and quivery, and went up to the front desk, where I had to give my name, address, telephone number and state the reason I was there. The last time I showed up in an emergency room and was asked to give that information, I was very pregnant with Aisling and experiencing contractions about four minutes apart, so consuming that I couldn't speak and had to hold onto the furniture in order to cross the room. That clerk looked at me and inquired, "So you're here for maternity?" after I panted out "I'm in labor."

It took all the forebearance I possessed not to yell the thing about poo and Sherlock at that clerk. This clerk, however, was much more on the ball and asked nicely, "Can we get you a wheelchair?" and she and the triage nurse sitting there did not draw back when I told them my symptoms. While my data was being entered into the computer system, I did wander over to a brightly-colored poster with information about the swine flu on it, but the nurse, who must know my mother, came over to me and said, "Now, now! Come with me."

Two hours later, after an EKG and a chest x-ray and a hospital nightie that didn't really fit all that well, I was diagnosed with double pneumonia. The doctor, who was just lovely, said that he believed it could be treated at home, but if I experienced any more trouble breathing, I needed to come back right away to be admitted. Eeek!!!

I was commanded to go home and stay either on the sofa or in the bed until Thursday, which means that I won't be able to teach the very last Shakespeare class of the semester. Henry V has not been my favorite play by a long shot, but still...We call the last day of class the "wrap party" and we always have great snacks and talk about the different versions of the play we've seen. And we were going to talk about what's coming up the next semester, and about how later this summer we're going to go to the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. So it was going to be fun, and I'm kind of sad to miss it.

However. I'd much rather be at my home resting than in the hospital resting, so I think I'll be able to deal with it. I'm doing such a good job with the resting that it has taken me six hours to write this post -- six hours and three naps. Summer vacation has begun!

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