Things Fall Apart
You’ve been waiting a long time to Internet-diagnose my latest disease or uncomfortable physical symptom, and now that wait is over.
Sunday morning I woke up around 3:00 a.m. — okay, no, it started earlier. Last month I remember lying in my bed at the Fisherman’s Wharf hotel where Alice and I were staying, and I had a weird little sensation in my lower right torso quadrant. Just a little, “Huh, that’s unusual” feeling, an intestinal princess-and-the-pea moment. I kept an eye on it, so to speak, and then I got my ladies time and the feeling went away. The consciousness of the feeling went away? I went back to my usual brain-in-a-jar, neutral body mode feeling like I’d managed to dodge, if not a bullet, then something benign but potentially inconvenient like a runaway shopping cart or a surprised skunk.
Fortunately for you, the Internet, the story does not end there.
Sunday morning, around 3:00 a.m., I got a little jolt in the now-forgotten-about lower right torso quadrant. I lay there in a pool of adrenaline and felt around my whole abdomen, thinking about a friend I ran into years ago when he was recovering from an emergency appendectomy. Standing there in his elastic-waisted pants he told me that the only symptom he’d had was that his whole abdomen had felt sore, like he’d done too many sit-ups. Was my whole abdomen sore? Well, no, not exactly, but I’d gone to a fairly vigorous yoga class the day before so maybe it was sore, but maybe I was confusing some latent core soreness with internal organ . . . huffiness.
I got up. I went to the bathroom. I got a glass of water. I came back and sat back down on the edge of the bed and I thought about the week ahead. I had to work Monday, but I could go into the hospital Monday night and get my appendix removed and be well enough to make an important meeting on Thursday. Yes, that could work. I lay back down. It was so lucky that we’d cancelled this week’s book events in Denver and L.A.! Clearly the Gods who were in charge of my monthly schedule had foreseen this bump in the road.
I finally got back to sleep by convincing myself to think about something else. I may have prayed myself to sleep. My prayers usually go a little something like this:
Hi, whoever is protecting me. You are doing a really great job, I have nothing to complain about and I am really lucky to have you looking out for me. Like when I was driving home from that party but really shouldn’t have been because once I got on the road I realized I was seeing two of everything and had to drive home with one eye shut. Thank you for letting me and everyone on the road with me that night live, I will never do that again. Thank you also for my family. Thank you for my job that I love. Thank you for letting some of my dreams come true. Thank you for all the crazy little ways you make my life work more smoothly. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
And then I say “thank you” in my head a couple of dozen times and then I fall asleep because I’ve forgotten what I was worried about.
And then I woke up and it was Mother’s Day, which I spent in bed having food brought to me and watching movies cuddled up with my son. And bleeding a little bit, but let’s look at some flowers first.
These were from Jack. EDITED TO ADD: Jack would like me to add that he went to Sarah and said, “Give me a dozen roses,” and Sarah said, “No, I have something else in mind for Eden,” and gave him those. Sarah is a bro. She also sells Webkinz, Mighty Beanz, Playmobil, and Legos, so we’ve spent some time in her shop over the years.
These were also from Jack (from here). (The Buddha is full of caramel!)
And this I bought for myself. It’s a self-portrait Jackson did in kindergarten set in silver (from here).
Movies watched: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Kung Fu Panda, Galaxy Quest.
Monday morning I got up and went to work. Work, work, work. At one point I Googled the symptoms for ovarian cyst but then things got busy and I spent the rest of my work time working. I felt a little light-headed at one point, and I decided that this was the result of some badly repressed late-onset panic, and had nothing to do with the fact that I’d eaten a cookie for lunch. Then I got off of work and got into my car and started down the road and suddenly, horribly realized that neither my head lights, my tail lights, nor my turn signals were functioning. This gave me an even deeper flashback: in tenth grade we covered my friend Marcia’s car with banners explaining how our team was going to kick some other team’s ass, and we taped one of the banners over Marcia’s tail lights. We were then almost rear-ended several times until a kindly motorist got out of her car and explained to us that tail lights serve an important function in that they warn the cars behind you that you are slowing down. We don’t drive around calculating each other’s speed using astrolabes or Doppler sonography, we depend on the simple visual cue that tail lights provide.
In honor of that important life lesson, I drove home from work in the slow lane with 200 yards between me and the car ahead of me, letting everyone and their dog pass me so that I wouldn’t get rear-ended or kill anyone behind me when I got to my exit. I did not go so far as to roll down my window and use hand signals in place of turn signals, but I made it home without meeting any other cars, so.
Professional called to ask for advice about car problem: Mechanic.
Mechanic’s advice: Turn the ignition to the left, then halfway to the right, and see if lights begin to work again. (They did!)
Mechanic’s further advice: You probably need a new ignition.
My response to mechanic: What? I can’t hear you over the sound of my blinkers, which are working fine now.
Jack’s response: Sure, why not wait until the ignition goes out completely and strands you somewhere. In the dark. While you’re drunk.
My response to Jack: This is how God will continue to protect me from ever drinking and driving again.
Meanwhile . . .
Professional called to consult about abdominal abnormality: Midwife.
Midwife’s advice: Get a sonogram.
Midwife’s further advice: Or you could wait until your next cycle and see what happens.
My response to midwife: Thank you for letting me call you for free medical advice ten years after you helped my baby to be born.
Jack’s response: Do it now, while we have health insurance.
My response to Jack: I think I’ll go get a sonogram.