Hi Ya, ER! It's Me Again-The Hypochondriac? I'm Baaack!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
What a great mixture of fun we had this weekend. We had a homecoming dance, followed by a funeral and we capped it off with a trip to the emergency room.

Good times!

It wasn't my colon this hypochondriac time that made me think I was one foot out the door to the netherlands. No, this time it was a different malady.

The good news is a blood clot gets you a VIP pass in the ER. No lingering with the Average Joe Swine Flu folks in the waiting room.

See, here's the deal. I come from a family who are genetically gifted with vision that requires binocular-type glasses, vein, circulation and heart troubles, along with the propensity for being overly chatty and having flat-chested womenfolk. 

Yay! Yay for me!

By the time my grandpa died, he had been living without legs for years. Cause that's how they used to take care of arteriosclerosis, they'd get rid of the arteries . . . and the legs that went along with them.

We generally tend to have veins that are the size of sewer pipes. I am no exception to the rule. 

My journey with varicose veins started with the birth of my first child. I was 28 and suddenly found myself with the legs of an 85-year-old woman. I also had the hair to match. 

With each pregnancy, my veins grew worse until they could have been mistaken for a topographical map   of the Grand Canyon.

My wardrobe was geared towards covering up my legs. I gave up shorts in my twenties. I heralded the day capri pants came back into style and cursed Sarah Jessica Parker and her stupid trend-setting ways, when she declared stockings with dresses- gauche and went barelegged. The world followed shortly thereafter. I hate her Sex and the City self.

Because, I love dresses. 

But, then leggings and maxi dresses came back in fashion and now, even though my daughters chastise me that leggings are no longer the style and even though Michael Kors and Tim Gunn abhor leggings, I will wear them until the day I die.  Leggings, Beyatch!

This is the only picture I could find with me rocking the leggings look, so I apologize for the chaos of the scene. We were in Yosemite with my sister and yes, I do overdress wherever I go. Who says National Parks are not a good place for gauzey dresses and big purses? Well, obviously the woman on the park bench looking at me with disdain does not appreciate my leather coat and heels, but I'd like to mention that perhaps horizontal stripes might not be the best choice for everyone, hmmm?

Notice the Odawg always posing, always.

After I was done birthing, I decided to do something about my veins. 

I went to a noted vein doctor who specialized in sclerotherapy. His professionalism turned to sheer giddiness the minute he set eyes upon my Amazon River legs. He kept measuring them and saying, "Now, these are some beauts!" He asked me, on the spot, if I'd like to be his leg model. 

I'd be the cover girl with jacked up legs adorning his life-size billboards all over town. 

It would be my chance to shine.

In most cases, I would have been thrilled to pose as a model for life-size billboards, but blown up photos of my deformed gams with the gigantic phrase, "Tired of your unsightly, hideous legs?" wasn't my idea of a life of glamorous modeling.

I signed the release right there in his office. 

I didn't tell many people those blown-up, snakey legs overlooking the interstate were mine. 

But I knew, and if those billboards turn out to be my 15 minutes, it'll be desperately sad- But hey, I'll take it. 

Because the treatment took tons of visits and millions of these little prickey shots and because my insurance people begrudgingly approved only one leg, I had one leg, free of purple ropes and one hideous leg. I was my own walking billboard of before and after. 

A few years later, I had the other leg done. This time, I went with wonderful vein doctors who zapped the veins with laser surgery, much easier and effective. 

The week before my surgery, I got out of bed one morning and immediately felt a searing pain radiate through my leg. There, on the vein about to be removed was a big purple clot. I screamed, "This is it! Family-gather round! The clot will be in my lungs within seconds. Hubby, please don't start dating for at least a month. And girls, the shoes are yours! But, wait, can't you at least hug me first?"

Now, let me take a second here to school you on clots. There are two kinds: superficial and deep-vein. If you have to get one, I'd suggest the superficial. Even thought it's as ugly and icky as a uterine placenta, it won't kill you.

I say a placenta, because with each of my children's births, my hubby snapped a photo of the placenta, so gross and jiggly as it lay there in its pan. The first time I saw him aiming his camera towards that mess, I had no idea what he was doing, since I was kinda busy. It wasn't until afterwards when he showed the baby photos off to everyone, did I realize the depth of his sickness. He'd stick that placenta photo right smack dab in the middle of all the gurgling baby pics. The poor viewing victim would always shriek, sometimes drop the pile of photos and say, "What IS that?" 
Except for one of my sister's buddies from law school. Somehow, he got a hold of one of my placenta pictures. I have no idea how. I certainly didn't post them on the Internet. From what I understand, my placenta still hangs proudly on his fridge to this day. 

So back to the clot story.  I found out my clot was not the killing kind when I called my doctor's office to inform them I'd probably die on the way to their office. They told me otherwise.

They dug it out during my laser surgery. I added a three inch scar to my leg souvenirs.

All went well, for years. Until this weekend. 

Now, mind you, my legs are not varicose free. I still have purple clusters of snake piles, here and there, but since the insurance company considers them "cosmetic surgery" they've decided they don't feel like paying for them. 

On the way home from a beloved friend's funeral this Sunday, the Hubby and I switched cars. (He was unable to attend the funeral, but we were both going to the funeral after"party.") He was going to pick up some food we'd ordered and Heaven forbid, matter of any kind might find its way into his car. 

He drives one of those fancy driving machines and he's insane about his stupid car and I do mean stupid car. He lectures me about the lack of cleanliness in my cars especially the time he found an Easter Egg wedged in between the seats of my old minivan...in December. 

And I'm all, "You have one adult person in your car at all times and you go to and from work. I drive my car more than a city bus and the bus passengers are also dung beetles, so go find somebody else to lecture. The bus driver's busy." 

His car is very stupid because the stupid Germans who designed his car thought it would be pretty neat to mess with the gear shift. 

Park. Reverse. Drive. Now, on most cars those gears are in a universal place and shifting in and out of those gears is as automatic to most drivers as breathing. 

But, not for those stupid Germans and their ultra stupid Driving Machine.

Park is like sideways shift.  Drive is, I don't know, put your hands in the air and do a jiggy dance. That's how ridiculous it is. Who messes with that, seriously? That's like deciding to switch up the gas and brake. "Ya, Ya, let's have some fun! See what happens when they THINK they are braking. Ya, daas goot" 

The Hubby, of course, pulled into some stranger's driveway to switch cars and jumped into my car, spitting out instructions on how to drive his stupid car in his really fast talk that he knows I don't pick up on. I sat in those people's driveway, sweating bullets, trying to get that stupid, stupid, stupid car into reverse. Of course, the Hubby had zoomed off, before his behind hit the driver's seat. I finally got it into reverse just as a man in a dirty wife-beater was strolling over to my car after watching me from his doorway for ten minutes. It took me another ten to figure out how to put it in drive, but at least I was on the road, out of their driveway. 

On top of the jacked up gear shifts, I couldn't find the seat adjuster. The Hubby drives like a drive-by shooter gang member, all low, practically in a sleeping position. Who drives a car like that? 

He should be pulled over for reclining at the wheel. 

Adding to the awkward seat positioning, his legs are also longer than mine, so I had to drive the whole way home, sitting knife-straight up like a grandma, my butt on the edge of the seat so that I could see out of the window. I knew I looked like an idiot when a car full of little kids next to me, did the L thing on their forehead, their grimy faces pressed up to their window. 

I made sure they got that L back and just a little bit more for their money. 

The point of this is, I think the seat put undue pressure on my leg. At least, that's what I'm trying to make the Hubby believe. By the time I figured out how to put the car in park and turn it off, (It also doesn't require keys. Stupid car.), I'd been sitting hard on the edge of that seat for a long time. 

As soon as I stood up, I felt that same, familiar, death-is-near pain. 

I went into my bedroom, stripped off my tights, (we'd had a tiny bout of cool weather) and there that sucker sat, all placenta-like, right on the back of my leg. I was all, "OMG, here we go AGAIN. I'm going to die, AGAIN!"

Now even though, I was pretty sure it was superficial, I felt like somebody in a white coat should take a look at this, because if someone's got to be the first person ever to die from a superficial blood clot, I can guarantee you, it's gonna be me. 

The Hubby made it home with the food and the normal car and suggested I call the nurse hot line of our insurance company. That nice nurse spent a ton of time, asking me normal questions like: "Are you having trouble breathing?" And I was all, "Well, I wasn't, but now that you say that, I think I'm gasping for breath. Yes, I'm definitely gasping for breath." She ignored my answer and asked me to describe the clot. 

Everything seemed non-deathly, until I mentioned the dark purple line running through the clot. Her words to me were, "You just bought yourself a ticket to the emergency room."

I slammed down the phone and shrieked to my hubby to get the car, the normal one. On the way there, he bragged he could get me to the hospital before any clot could kill me. When I told him, a clot racing towards my lungs could kill me in about 20 seconds, he immediately SLOWED DOWN and said, "Well, I can't beat that." 

When I gasped, "What are you doing?" Because now I could only speak in breathy pauses, since I knew I was feeling the clot hovering in my lungs. 

He said from his gang-shooting, reclined position, "I'm not getting a speeding ticket!"

I guess he didn't want to add speeding fines to my funeral expenses.

We made it to the hospital in senior citizen time and like I said, I got a bed right away. Unfortunately, since my pain was not severe, (yet), I was not offered morphine. 

That made me sad.

As the lovely nurse was taking all my stats, I could see the nurse's station from my bed.  An ER doc in scrubs who was this kind of hot:

started walking towards the row of examining rooms. I raised my eyes to heaven, not to pray for Jesus to stop my certain demise, but to pray, "Please, oh please, oh please dear Lord, I've been a semi-nice girl. Please, let him be my doctor."

And the Lord looked down on me favorably in what could have very well been my last few minutes. 

Dr. Hotness was kind and funny. He raised his eyebrows while looking through my chart and said, "I just have to ask. It says you were here in 02 and you had a pelvic relaxation? Now, I am aware of a lot of treatments, but I'm dying to hear about this one."

And as much as I wanted to share with him my sordid pelvic secrets, I had no idea what he was talking about. I don't even remember going to the ER in 02 and I certainly don't remember any sort of relaxing being done to my pelvis. 

I guess I'm a bigger hypochondriac than I realized. 

He asked some questions on pelvic relaxation and then we a lovely conversation about House, until my hubby found out Dr. Hotness missed the last episode and decided to give him a 20 minute summation of it. My Hubby is not a good summation...er. He's not even a good talker. And it was cringing to listen to his, "So this guy did this to this guy and the other guy didn't like how he was treating the one guy."

I pretended I didn't know him. 

When the Hubby was through, Dr. Hotness announced he was going to examine the clot. It was then I remembered my undies. 

See, when I discovered the clot, I was wearing undies akin to, well . . . floss. I wear floss undies often. I abhor panty lines.

In my rapid search to dress in appropriate undies, I grabbed my thick, cottony Hanes boy shorts. As I turned over and Dr. Hotness lifted my hospital cover, I regretted the moment my fingers lingered on those undies which closely resemble tidy whities Now, I'm not saying I would have worn the floss. That would have made him cover me back up as quickly as he could. I'm just saying a nice black satin would have been a more suitable choice. 

He immediately said, "Yeah, that looks pretty superficial. I think you're gonna live another day." 

I pointed out the dark purple line and he informed me it wasn't the deadly kind of line, the deadly kinds run vertical not horizontal. My purple line he noted, looked more like a dent from a hard surface.

Did I mention I hated that stupid car?

I apologized profusely for using up his hot time and told him I'm not like all munchausen without proxy, trying to use sickness for attention. I just always think I'm going to die. 

He assured me I did the right thing and said, just to be on the safe side, he was sending me for an ultrasound. 

The 12-year-old hospital worker came to wheel me to the ultrasound wing. He might not have been 12, but I'm pretty sure he was, especially when he told me it was his first day on the job and then giggled under his breath when he kept ramming my bed into walls every time he turned the corner. 

He brought me into this hallway, a windowless, doorless hallway with nothing on the walls but a large clock. He stopped my bed in the middle of that hallway and said, "Someone will be right with you."

They weren't. 

I sat in that sterile hallway with nothing to read, no one to talk to, nothing to look at, but that big clock. I watched the seconds tick away, until 30 minutes later, I started to worry. Was the 12 year old getting his jollies leaving me in a storage area somewhere? How long would my Hubby wait? Knowing him, after a while, he might just get tired of waiting and haul ass, leaving a note behind, "Call me when you're through with whatever." Should I climb off the bed with my backless hospital gown and my Hanes industrial undies and go looking for someone?

Then, I remembered my breathing and how the clot was probably still hanging around my lungs and suddenly, there wasn't enough air in that hallway. I had just started to let one bare foot dangle off the bed, working myself up to put a bare foot on a hospital floor, when the 12-year-old reappeared with another patient on a stretcher. 

I looked behind in relief. Certainly, he wouldn't leave two of us here to wither away. Somebody would have to notice. The poor old man in the bed behind me, looked like he needed a hell of a lot more than an ultrasound. He looked as if perhaps a heart transplant was more in order. He was all withered and gray and his eyes were half closed. I turned back around feeling a bit better about my own health. 

Within seconds, I heard a cell phone ring and the old man answered with a shaky, "Hello."

I had no choice but to eavesdrop where he informed someone named Art he was going to have to miss the  poker game because he was having an emergency ultrasound. Of course, as soon as things started to get interesting in my hallway, the ultrasound tech came to cart me off for my turn. 

It was your usual ultrasound, until she said, "Have you ever had an ultrasound on your legs before?"

I immediately panicked and responded, "Why? You're seeing hundreds of clots, aren't you?"

She looked at me strangely as she said, "Noooo. I was just making conversation."

She grew quiet after that, as she ran her little disc over my leg. I could hear the reassuring sound of my blood running what sounded like smoothly through my veins. As I lay there, I heard the old man being brought in to the room next to me. 

Within seconds, his phone rang, again. I heard him explain to someone else his reason for not making the poker game and then he said, "How old are you, Frank? Well, your 88-year-old heart ain't gonna hold out too much longer, so I wouldn't be laughing so hard."

The tech and I were a bit taken aback by this, but it didn't seem to deter the man.  His phone rang throughout his entire ultrasound. I was surprised they let him talk while having an echocardiogram, but talk he did the whole time. I guess you're pretty popular, when you can't put the phone down long enough to have your heart scanned. 

When the tech was finished the 12-year old came back for me and only rammed my feet into a wall one time on the way back. I don't think my Hubby even noticed I was gone, since there was a tv in my room.  He didn't even bother to look up. This is how routine our ER visits have become. 

A little while later Dr. Hotness came back and said, "Everything looks great, Young Lady. We'll give you something to thin your blood, so that clot will pass and some Vicodin for the pain and you're free to go."

Now, here's the best part. And no, it wasn't the Vicodin since I didn't fill it because, as you know Internet, I am afraid of drugs. (If anyone needs a fix, I've got a ton of unfilled painkillers from all my ER jaunts, you know, as a friend to a friend thing. JK, DEA people, JK!)

And it wasn't the fact that my blood clot was non-lethal, although it's always nice to be worry free...until the next time.

And it wasn't the moniker, "Young Lady" although it did give me a little thrill, there in my hospital gown and big, thick undies. 

No, it was the fact that as he was telling me, he put his hand on my ankle in, you know, a touchy-feely "this is how they train us to be in med school nowadays, to be all kind and friendly and such" kind of way. I tell you, Internet, I wanted to stay there all day with Dr. Hotness's hand on my ankle. 

But of course, the Hubby had to ruin it, by taking his eyes off the TV screen and saying, "So, we can blow this joint?"

Yesterday, I woke up with a large, red swollen lump in my outer ear. I've heard about spiders burrowing into people's ears in their sleep and making a nest. 

I wonder if I called the ER, if they'd give me Dr. Hotness's schedule. I'm just sayin'.

Today's Dooo Ittt Download: "Strange Condition" by Pete Yorn. Not only do I love Pete Yorn, but perhaps this song exemplifies all my maladies or even better, my mental health. I'm making a New Year's Resolution early, to try and go six months without any ER visits. I hope I can make it. 

1 comment:

Aunt Becky said...

I'll, uh, take those prescriptions off your hands.

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