The nausea was relentless. Truly I wanted to die because death would be an end of it. Two weeks of heaving and my gut muscles screamed like they were shredding. Okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But in my mind they registered as raw, and I was the only one who could hear them screaming. It was me moaning that other people could hear.

Let’s face it, you know you’re sick when you call out, “Please help me” to everybody who gets near enough. Richard was mortified. Not me. I had no pride, false or otherwise.

This is the extremity. Next comes flailing your arms and throwing yourself against the wall. I know. I had several times stumbled around semi-lucid in a repeating little drama that began with me savoring a chip of crushed ice or a sip of sports drink, loudly proclaiming my delight, and more and more likely to guzzle and gulp in my dehydrated condition, knowing what must follow and not able to control myself. To hell with the inevitable hurling – I WAS SO THIRSTY after two weeks of this crap.

I remembered a bit of history gleaned from Sherry’s novels about the Arab world at that time. Suddenly I can relate to dying of dysentery on the beach where they landed with those crazy Christian Crusaders.

And today, this very day right now people, mostly children, are dying that way in that same part of the world, dying for lack of clean water.

Rich wouldn’t let me get too out of hand in the Emergency Room waiting area, and just as soon as I started heaving, the staff in charge loudly commanded the others to “Find someplace to put her!”

I spent the next two hours tucked away in a back corner, a closet with a short examining table, where they did an EKG and left me squirming and writhing with nothing but a heart monitor giving any indication anybody knew I was back there.

Even when you hold a bowl under your chin continuously, there will be mishaps. My biggest problem, though, wasn’t the vomiting. My attention was fixed and foremost on my breathing. I knew from painful experience what would occur if I let myself go even for a minute.

I had started hyper-ventilating hours before, at home. My hands were buzzing with that half numb sensation that quickly escalates to muscle spasms … and if you’ve never experienced these, you are among the blessed.

Deep slow breaths. Almost as hard to do as it was to suck on one ice chip and not swallow any of it. So there I was guzzling, retching and hyper-ventilating. It was a minimum two-hour wait to be seen by a doctor.

Honestly, with what little clarity I had left, I began to doubt I would make it. I thought I might really make this much harder for myself, if such can be imagined, were I to act out or even get into a confrontation with hospital staff … of which I am quite capable. You might even say it’s my nature.

I had continually to resist the urge to run around with arms flailing, demanding someone help me. When it almost overtook my self-control, Richard held me tight until I could once more turn my attention and efforts to my breathing.

When at last it was my turn to be seen, the doctor came in flanked by two nurses who knew what she was going to say before she said it. One of the nurses had three syringes, loaded and ready to go. She held them in her right hand, each between two fingers, all points up, ready for the command. When the doctor said, “Let’s get some …” that nurse was already pumping me full of Zofran, Ativan and Dilaudid.

Dilaudid, just two milligrams. A flower bud opened itself in my middle, radiating great overlapping loops of warmth and well-being that slowly spread to my nearly-numb finger tips and finally my breathing settled in and I wrapped myself into it and let go.

They admitted me and I lay thankfully in their angelic care for five more days. We figured out a sinus infection had spread to my digestive system and got it squared away.

And what do I wish I could do again? Don’t you know it!


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