Yes. That photo that falls to the bottom of the post because this is the phone app...That is what it looks like. Last time I hurt this bad, or close to this bad, I was in a taxi with Florkow on the way down the mountains in Costa Rica. This was worse. That would have gotten worse given enough time.
I woke up at 5, rolled over, popped two naproxen sodium and curled into a ball. I waited 30 minutes. Nothing. It wasn't even coming in waves; it was one solid brick against my back and escalating. Ok, so we're having one of these months, lovely. I went to sleep after midnight, my alarm is going off at 6:20 and I need every minute I can get. I reached for the acetaminophen. Two of those should cut this down to something I can sleep through. I can sleep through a lot.
I rolled back into a ball. No. Worse now. I stretched out because the reach for the night table was ok, mostly. No. Bad. Now the brick was radiating out and down the inside of my thighs, nothing localized, not even pulsing, steady on and somebody had a cosmic hand on the volume control, turning it to the right one notch at a time.
Shit. 6:10. Get up. Get Elizabeth up. Sweetie, you're going to have to get yourself on the bus today, I have to go back to bed. Elizabeth was up until nearly 10 for various reasons and this was nearly too much to ask of the kid. I wasn't asking. Let the dog out. Do not miss your bus. I can't drive.
I looked at the bed on the way to the bathroom floor.
There was nothing to compare this to short of that transition stage of labor where contractions come so hard and fast you, or at least I did, lose connection with the outside world and sometimes with the simple mechanics of how your body works, like if you're on your hands and knees, for example, how do you get back down if that isn't working? Answer is simple if you aren't trying to protect a very large belly; you simply fall down and don't worry too much about banging your head against the sink because it's almost a welcome distraction.
There are a few differences, short if not being pregnant:
1. Contractions come in waves and peak so you can count up and down the scale. That's how I personally manage that sort of pain. This was one hard, steady contraction.
2. You know what's happening so the fear factor isn't there, or at least maybe not so much. Fear makes pain worse if we tense up. I was getting really scared. I remember being aware of how clenched my jaw had become by the time the EMTs were in the house.
3. I never once felt like I was going to pass out in labor. Sure, I actually chewed the sheets for awhile near the end laying on my side, but who doesn't, right? I don't scream or cry. I might start panting and I'm pretty sure I got to whimpering at some point before I got back on track, but pass out? Never. Well, that's when I called for Elizabeth.
You can't go to school, sweetie. Can you hand me my pillow and just stay with me. No, not in here, out there on the bed is fine (it's bad enough she has to know I'm hurting this badly, she doesn't need to see how badly and yes, that's where my head was plus it's very rare I'll let anyone near me when I'm in that sort of vulnerable state - crazy, yes).
I was thinking, if I pass out, I might die. I might stop breathing. I might throw up, aspirate and die (that last one is a real possibility). I kept trying to turn my head to the right because I was pretty sure I was going to throw up and I couldn't move much.
Time out. Right there don't you think it was time to dial 911? I hadn't gotten to that yet.
Elizabeth, please call your father. Maybe he will wake up and help us. He was there in 20 minutes. Why do I think that no one will come?
It took having a conversation with another adult to realize I had to go to the hospital and it couldn't be in a car. He dialed 911 and talked and I helped a little but not much.
In NM's sweats he got me out of the tiny bathroom and down the hall to the top of the stairs where I went back to curled up with a pillow and a blanket, on and off, on and off.
A face appeared at the top of the stairs. I'm JT... I whispered, I know you...and immediately relaxed (you picked my daughter up out of the road after she crawled from wreckage of the Mazda she ran into the tree instead of the deer and you called me and the first thing you said in your oh so very good at this job voice was, your daughter is going to be ok...but there's no reason you would remember me)
In the ambulance we talked more because JT said kidney stones and at first I didn't think so but later I did. I was given morphine but I asked for a very low dose and the medic, I was so grateful to get a medic and not have to wait, explained what was going to happen and what might happen and I asked couldn't I just have a shot of Demerol instead and he said that wasn't really going to cut it. Ok.
Into the IV it went.
Wait for it, wait for it...
There it is.
Oh holy he'll make it stop. He held onto my hand and said look at me, some people have a really hard time with this but it's going to pass.
It did and I'd do it again because the pain dropped from a 10 to a 4 and he was worried it didn't drop all the way and asked if I wanted more and I said hell no. A 6 and under is manageable. For now.
Turned out I hadn't been in that hospital as a patient since I had Cletus late summer '91 and they couldn't find me because I was registered with her name even though it wasn't my name because back in '91 apparently the mother's name was bloody irrelevant even IF I was carrying the insurance through my employer and that was most assuredly not my last name. I'll be damned.
Elizabeth's father had all my stuff so I couldn't be properly registered until they found him but I came out if Investment Banker land so certain assumptions are made even if you come in with no ID and no insurance card, you get a private room with a glass door in the ER and attention right away and eventually a director comes around in his slick suit and asks if you're happy with your treatment and has anyone reviewed 'the plan' with you yet...
In the mean time there are patients on beds in the hall outside my door and it isn't because there aren't rooms of one or two varieties available. They are receiving care. I know this because I am hearing the care occurring right outside my door and I fear for the safety of the nurse/pa dealing with the guy but security comes and things settle down.
I am poked and prodded and questioned and tested and sucked dry if blood and pumped full of fluids and finally the morphine is wearing off and I am OKish. But my blood pressure is too low. They have been bothered by this from the beginning. My blood pressure should be elevated from pain. Well, it's not. My blood pressure should be higher overall. Well it's not. Why are you still dizzy. Morphine on an empty stomach? Have some juice and crackers. Still dizzy? Lie? Yes. No. I'm better. I want to go home.
BP 95/54 laying down. The machine kicked in to read again so I sat up fast and it read 101/66. That's the last reading they took which is good because next reading was back below 100 and my resting pulse was 60 and I don't know how I would have explained that it spikes to 140 almost right away and the settles back down again and this is all within the realm of my normal. When the BP read below 100 again I disengaged from the machine and started getting dressed.
I declined morphine and didn't make noise about pain so they don't know what to do with me. The CAT scan was stopped. Do I want to do it anyway? I think about unnecessary tests and lack of actual human diagnostics and said, no. I want my doc. She was in surgery and I already had an appointment. None of my docs have privileges at that hospital. Just worked out that way.
All last night my head hurt and the cramping was back but not terrible, just enough to scare me. I have a 2:15. Elizabeth is in school today but tired and scared. Her dad stayed with her a long time after they brought me home and put me to bed. Word spread, phone calls and texts started coming in. Not dead yet... :-)
She talked to NM on the phone in the hospital just to be able to tell the story to somebody she wasn't trying to be strong for and while she spoke calmly, a river ran down her face and a tributary shot off and up over that aching tender peak of upper lip where it hung suspended in the light encapsulating the grief that is fear of almost loss.
I caught it on my finger.