Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Great Appendicitis Debacle

Some of you know about this already but for those of you who don't know what's been going on, or for those who know sort of what's been going on, but not the whole story, I thought I'd write it all down.

Our story begins in Atlantic City. Remember when we went down to AC to see Ani? Well, we both came home with colds. There are lots of weird people in AC, and lots of weird smells, too.

So over the course of the next couple of days (Sunday, Monday Tuesday) our colds got worse. Tuesday night was our big annual awards dinner at work (picture six hundred people in a huge ballroom and you're in charge of keeping them entertained).

I never sleep after one of our big events and that night was no different. Finally I dozed off at about three only to have terrible nightmares. I awoke feeling unrested and cranky.

Wednesday was spent getting ready to take the Train to Washington, which is another annual chamber event. Around lunchtime The Beast called to say that he was going home from work early because now, in addition to the cold, his stomach hurt. I thought his cold was turning into the stomach flu.

Again, there was no sleep in our house that night. Although I offered several times to take him to the hospital (because even to my untrained eye the pain he was in was considerable), he didn't want to go.

Thursday dawned bright and clear and again I was overtired, stuffy-headed, and a bit of a crank. I made it down to D.C. on adrenaline alone, looking forward to a night of hotel sleep (no cats jumping on me, down pillows, a TV all to myself...).

When I arrived at the hotel and had checked in and gotten to my room I called the Beast to check in. He was still feeling rotten but sounded better. He mentioned that the pain in his stomach had localized on the right side. Hmm, I thought. That sounds sort of like the appendix, right? Or is the appendix the left side? I couldn't remember.

So I took out my handy-dandy BlackBerry and Googled Appendicitis. Every single symptom that the Beast had was listed, but this was the kicker: it said that right before things got really bad the patient would start to feel better, and of course the Beast had just SOUNDED better over the phone.

Oh, God. I'm in Washington and the Beast needs to go to the hospital. What to do?

With just a trace of desperation in my voice I called our friend Sal. Sal has been friends with the Beast since high school and is one of the few who knows the origins of the nickname "Beast". I explained to Sal that I was far away and needed him to monitor the situation. Sal reassured me that he was on the case. If it sounded like it was what I thought it was, he'd get the Beast to the ER, stat.

Breathing a sigh of relief I got ready for the reception and big congressional dinner. I saw Jon Corzine and met Leonard Lance, there was a George Bush impersonator, and it was all very ... Washington-esque.

Half-way through the dinner my phone (which I've been clutching in a death-grip under the table) vibrates. I step out to answer. It's the Beast, he's at the ER, they're probably going to do an emergency appendectomy.

Oh, Jesus.

He says they're going to do a CT scan to confirm that that's the plan, but nothing has been decided. He's comfortable and no longer in pain (thank God for painkillers delivery in an IV).

I went back into the dinner and let Jim know of the situation. He was very supportive and said whatever I wanted to do was fine with him. I think about going back up to the room, but I know that I'm just going to sit up there and freak out. At the dinner at least I'm distracted. So I stay, I eat, and when it's all over I head back up to my room while dialing Sal.

They're still waiting to do the CT, Sal tells me and there's really no news. I insert my key into the lock and wait for it to turn green so that I can get in my room and really freak out the way I need to. But nothing happens. Again and again I insert the key, and again and again nothing happens.

I've switched from Sal to the Beast's parents now and we're exchanging news (mostly given to us from Sal). I still can't get in. After promising to call them as soon as I know anything I head BACK down to the lobby to get my key fixed.

Passing Corzine in the lobby with a bunch of wonky-looking wonks I head to the desk and explain the situation. Luckily I've got my drivers license with me so it's all fixed easy-peasy. Within seconds I'm on my way back passed Corzine and toward the elevators.

While waiting for the car I run into an older gentleman who was one of the planners of the train. I tell him what's going on and say, "I think Gordon is leaving tomorrow at nine-thirty. Do you think I could tag along and buy my ticket on the train?"

"Why don't you take a red-eye tonight?"

"Because that would put me in Newark at one am and I haven't slept in two days."

"Are you sure? Pam could pick you up."

"No, I don't want Pam to drive into Newark in the middle of the night to pick me up."

"What about Metro Park? Get off there and she'll get you home from there?"

At this point I seriously considered the offer. I needed to get home, but I really needed six hours sleep. "Can I let you know and in the meantime will you try to track down Gordon?"


I got back upstairs and call the Beast. They're getting ready to the CT scan at this point. I ask him if he wants me to grab a train tonight and he says no. It's safer to wait until morning but if I could get an early train that could get me home fast that would be good. I agree.

So get on the phone with Amtrak and book a seat on an Acela for the next morning. It leaves at nine am. In the meantime Gordon calls and tells me to do exactly that - book a seat on the morning Acela. I tell him I'm on it.

I slept with the phone by the bed and the light on that night, ready to spring into action. Funnily enough I woke up feeling much better. Rested.

After a big breakfast (God knows what the food situation will be at the hospital), I grab a cab in the pouring rain and head for Union Station. I saw the Capital Building on the way there but couldn't really get excited.

When I got the train station I found my gate easily enough and after just a little waiting we were boarding. Accidentally, I chose to sit on the 'Quiet Car' which meant no loud conversations and no cell phone. Because I still had my cough I ate about ten Cold-Eze's.

Mostly I listened to my iPod and watched the landscape go by. I thought of that old joke, "Why do I want to take a train ride? So I can look at poor people's back yards?" So true, y'all.

Train pulled into Newark at 11:30 and I cabbed it home where I threw my suitcase from the cab right into the backseat of my car and sped (literally and unsafely due to the weather conditions) to Mountainside.

He was just waking up. It turned out that they'd gone into surgery at nine that morning, just as I was getting on the train. He was groggy but okay. I breathed a sigh of relief and then got on the phone. I called his parents, I called my parents, I called some people and canceled all our weekend plans, I called Sal, I called friends who knew what was happening and looking for an update.

Then I sat. And I held his hand. And we were quiet.

He came home Sunday feeling much better and now he's almost back to normal, except for a shaved belly.

Lesson learned: there's no need to leave home. For anything.


Lindsay said...

You Poor Thing! Well im glad that everything is getting back to normal.

savvy said...

Yeah, Beast here, and the whole thing sucked. Thanks for getting home as soon as you could, it was great to get back her on Sunday and be in our place, together, safe.