sometimes it hurts a lot

I was looking forward to last
night for weeks–a night to spend with E, being taken out to dinner by his friend (who is also his CEO) and his wife, who both who both adore him
like crazy. I was looking forward to talking to them (mostly about how
wonderful we think E is, I am sure–we have so much in common!) and I
was looking forward to what is apparently the best restaurant in Salt
Lake City and maybe the known world where they make the Caesar salad
right at your table the way God intended and
also cannoli and maybe some kind of gnocci and a ravioli of some sort
and also wine.

It was going to be a wonderful evening, and I had almost missed my
train that morning because I spent a lot of time picking out an outfit
that said “Awesome Girlfriend of a Guy You Should Totally Give a Giant
Raise To,” and I spent much of the afternoon browsing the online menu
and planning my method of assault on both dignity and common sense. At
six o’clock I bounced up out of my chair and realized suddenly that I
couldn’t actually stand up all the way straight. Incredible pain at the
base of my ribcage, hard to breathe, hard to walk, hard to keep from
whimpering.



“Do you want to reschedule?” E said. “No, we can’t,” I said, over and
over. No, we can’t. We can’t, it’s so rude. Until I said, “Oh God, I’m
sorry, can we please?” E called the CEO, bundled me into the car,
stroked my hair, looked panicked. “I want to take you to the emergency
room,” he said, and I put him off. It’s just gas, it’s fine, it’s
probably nothing, it’ll go away by the time we get home. By the time we
got home, I was pale and having trouble breathing and we pulled into
the parking lot of the urgent care clinic. He pleaded with me to go in.
I shuffled through the door, and they told me to go to the emergency
room and get an ultrasound. We sat in the car and I cried.

“I can’t make you go,” E said.

“I don’t want to go,” I said. “I can’t go. I can’t afford it.”

“I’ll pay for it.”

“It’ll be thousands of dollars.”

“We’ll figure something out.”

“I can’t go. I can’t. I’m sorry. I can’t. It’s fine. I’ll be fine.”

He clenched his jaw and drove me back to his house and settled me on
the couch with a pillow and a blanket and brought me water and held my
hand. “I’ll be okay,” I kept telling him. “You’re staying here
tonight,” he said. “You’re sure–?” “No,” I said.

The next morning, I woke up, and I was a little nauseous and my mouth
tasted terrible, and I was tired and felt sore, but the pain was gone.
Terrible gas, after all. A thing that happens, sometimes, no matter how
well you eat or how careful you are.

I don’t eat well at all. I think that I am careful and good, for a
given value of good, and I am resentful because isn’t food supposed to
be value-neutral and just calories in? I don’t think I am egregious–I
am not one of the weight-loss surgery patients drinking chocolate
milkshakes every hour and plotting how to finish a pie. But if I sat
down with a doctor and listed everything I ate, I would find out
exactly what caused that terrible pain, and exactly why and how and to
what extent it is entirely my fault and entirely something I brought
down on my own head. It really is. I swore I hadn’t eaten anything
different that day, that I didn’t do anything, but I know I did. I
know if I thought about it, I’d remember an entire bag of croissants or
a stick of butter or something and then I’d feel sick, again.

At the urgent care clinic, I hesitated to tell them I had weight-loss
surgery, and they were theorizing about gallbladder and kidney stones.
I didn’t want to tell them. I didn’t want it to be the problem.

E said, “Sometimes I wish you had never had surgery.”

I never wish that. What I wish is that sometimes, there was some kind of switch inside my head that I could flip.

  8 comments for “sometimes it hurts a lot

  1. October 23, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I know this isn’t the point of the entry at all, but I have to say this: as a Canadian, I’m horrified that you had to sit in the parking lot and debate whether to get medical care or because of financial reasons. What if it hadn’t been gas?! I know it’s a fact of life across the border, but I’m still boggled every time I’m presented with an example.

  2. October 23, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Anne, I’m sorry. I hope you are feeling better, and aren’t beating yourself up over any of it.
    Regarding the first commenter on insurance – I have insurance and had a bad fall after passing out while walking down stairs. My boyfriend called the ambulance and all I could think about was how much it was going to cost me.

    Sad sad system.

  3. alysha
    October 23, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Oh God… Wow, just wow.
    I am so glad that you are feeling okay today, but UGH! I so agree with Mare and Hutch. Our system is so broken.

    I am so glad that you have E and that he took such wonderful care of you. It is so important that our loved ones be solid when we’re falling apart.

  4. momo
    October 23, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Man, gas that bad? I have been there. I’ve not had weight loss surgery, but I have had gas so bad I was convinced I was having a heart attack. Which is scary because should I ever have a real heart attack (knock on wood), I might not get help in time. Plus women with heart problems are ignored anyway.

    As for emergent care…I do have insurance, really “good” health insurance, and the last time I landed in the ER, it took me a year to pay the bill off. And they barely did anything for me. I paid that much just to walk through the door. But I didn’t have a choice; I was hemorrhaging. If it was just pain, I bet I wouldn’t go. And I HATE when doctors or urgent care places send you to the ER just to be safe. Just take a second to see if it really is an emergency!

  5. KC
    October 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Anne – If you still have your gallbladder, I would bet you any amount of money that it’s the problem. If you don’t, then wow. That’s pretty serious gas.

    The first time I had an acute gallbladder attack I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stand or lie down comfortable, was nauseated and in such pain. I couldn’t get a good breath because the pain of my lungs expanding behind my ribs was so great that I thought I’d pass out. I was hyperventilating and dizzy. I finally convinced myself that I was having a panic attack and gradually I calmed down and the next day I was better.

    Gallbladder attacks come on fast and subside in a few hours (like gas?). I’m so much happier now that it’s been removed. Follow-up with your regular doctor. Good luck.

  6. M.
    October 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I still think that with time, the surgery will be something that is just part of you. Like an allergy to a medicine or something.

    I still have a hard time telling people I got rhinoplasty after I got socked in the face by an elbow while playing basketball. If I hadn’t opted for it, I’d have gone through life with essentially one nostril and a huge bone chip in my face. But when I tell people I had a nose job, I feel like I have to tell them why and justify what’s always a vanity procedure. It happened 7 years ago, and if I hadn’t had the surgery and gone through my early 20’s with a deformed nose, who knows how that would have affected my development. I’m never unhappy I did it, but I used to never talk about it. It has gotten easier, though, and I think you’ll find a similar thing.

    Re. the healthcare thing… I did Cobra for a while. It was a bitch. But I always felt that I would do what I had to do to make sure I was safe. But then, I’ve always preferred a little monetary suffering early on to ridiculous taxes. This is the thing with nationalizing healthcare; we pay one way or another. Look: http://www.oecd.org/document/4/0,3343,en_2649_34897_41407428_1_1_1_1,00.html

    The first figure down? Everyone likes to talk about the French healthcare system as being ideal. Personally, I’d rather take care of my own health care and not be taxed – on average – 45%. And my labmate lived in Canada for a while with her husband and daughter… her complaint was always having to wait and wait for appointments. Is it that so much better?

    Don’t get me wrong, the health insurance business is a hustle. But to make it a government thing? I don’t think that’s the best answer.

  7. anon
    October 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I must admit, I had the same health care thoughts when reading your post, and all I could think was, Go Obama!

    But I digress.

    I’m sorry, honey, for your ruined night, for your pain, and most of all, I’m sorry to see how you still repeatedly beat yourself up.

    E is a good man and I love him, by the way; just had to add that.

    But really, change comes slow, sweetheart, and you have made so many freaking great strides in the last few years…and you never give yourself credit for that!

    Ok, so you’re not perfect. Thank god for that, I say (I’d really hate you if you were perfect, and I totally wouldn’t want to be your BFF, and I’d never comment here anymore, and I’d just read your posts and silently seethe at your perfect little annoying life).

    Look, I have turned my life around in so many ways too, but there are days that just, well, suck. Or more to the point, days in which *I* suck: I make bad choices, foodwise and otherwise, knowing I’m doing so and just sailing ahead and doing it anyway. I’m almost forty and sometimes I’m fucking brilliant and other times I think I have as little sense as I did when I was sixteen. I’m human, though, so fuck beating myself up over it.

    Now, if I was ALWAYS screwing up, consciously making stupid-ass choices and then constantly whining about it, that would be different. But I don’t. And neither do you.

    You live your life, and for the most part you do it well. Me too. But sometimes it’s god-awful messy, ain’t it?? But that’s us, babe. E loves you and so do we. Be kind to yourself.

  8. missyb
    October 24, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I’m about 265 lbs and I have gallstones.. and what you’re describing has happened to me a few times.. I went to the ER when I had fantastic insurance thinking maybe my appendix had ruptured. They kept me for four hours and told me it was gas.. sent me home.. After that happened another couple of times, (Minus the ER trip) I found out that gall stones will actually CAUSE that kind of pain.

    I’m scared not to have my gallbladder removed because I’ve heard it’s much harder to lose weight afterward.. I know it’s not the healthiest decision, but it hasn’t really bothered me now for a couple of years at least.. and I can see the attacks coming in the form of constipation and gas and eat a big salad and drink plenty of water and I keep it at bay..

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