If you have been following along then you know that last month I wished publicly for a broken leg. (AKA time off) Well, the Universe saw my broken leg and raised me a ruptured appendix. Be careful what you ask for.
All kidding aside, it was one of the scarier events I have ever endured and I’ll just go on record as saying that going to the hospital during a pandemic has all the earmarks of a real-life zombie movie.
Here’s my story. Driving into the parking lot of the hospital I felt like I was going into the heart of the pandemic. I saw tents, people in hazmat suits and lots of gloves. My sister drove me to the ER entrance and was immediately shooed away. No family. No friends. Nobody to go with me. I was informed I had to go it alone and since I was in so much pain I agreed. I was still pretending I had something easy like irritable bowel syndrome.
The entry way to the ER was littered with sick people in masks being denied entry to the hospital for one thing or another. As I looked around in horror, a nurse slapped a mask on my face. I would remain wearing this mask for the entire duration of my stay, having to smell my own breath for what seemed like an eternity.
I gained access to the ER where there was not a soul but me and a lady behind a piece of plastic. My pulse began to race. I was rushed into a room and tested and re-tested until it became apparent, I needed surgery and then I began to cry. I had the realization that I really must do this alone.
The doctor, not knowing how to calm a crying woman in pain, did the only thing reasonable, he okay’d the morphine. From then on, I only remember bits and pieces of this surreal event. I remember going down the hall on a gurney joking (morphine) about Zombies with the transport guy. He didn’t think it was funny as we rolled down deserted hallways lined with empty beds. I remember telling the anesthesiologist’s nurse to please take off my mask so that I could have some fresh air just in case I die. I did get a laugh that time followed by him mercifully taking off my mask.
I have vague memories of waking up in the recovery room mad as hell because I was in pain and I had the stupid mask back on. I also recall waking up in my hospital room and discovering that my body was dyed yellow and shaved bald, which led me to the memory of only seeing men as I was put under. What the hell?
I was forced to drink mineral oil at some point and was visited by a physical therapist who showed me how to get out of bed without screaming. Apparently, that is frowned upon.
I also remember kind nurses that understood that I was alone, scared, drugged up and vulnerable. For those 24 hours they acted like my family. I especially remember that ER nurse who, like my mother, reminded me more than once to not be so dramatic. I wish she knew how much I needed her that night.
At the end of all this I got to go home. The nurse on duty pushed me in a wheel chair out a rear exit. Less exposure, I suppose. My mother and husband were waiting for me in the running car like I had just robbed a bank. They shoved me in the car with the intensity of an ongoing heist and we sped away.
In the days since then I have calmed down and my fear of being exposed to the virus has subsided. I think about my appendix and where it might be today. My mother the nurse gave me the gory details. I guess it got what it had coming.
P.S. Nurses Rock!