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
“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.