“I’ve never ridden in an ambulance,” I said, as I was strapped to the gurney and loaded in.
One of the two cute, young (he reminded me of my 16-year-old nephew) EMTs responded in a chipper tone, “Now you can cross it off your bucket list!”
This weekend adventure started last Thursday afternoon, when crushing chest, back, and stomach pain suddenly recurred. I first experienced this over a year ago, with infrequent but relentless episodes to follow. Before you yell at me, I did see my doctor about the problem. A stress test showed my heart was fine, and a daily dose of Nexium solved the problem for a full six months… until it came back with a vengeance. When it became too much to bear on Friday, we proceeded to Rush Copley Emergency Center, a convenient five minutes from our house.
By the way, if you want to be in an exam room in 30 seconds, the phrase “crushing chest pain” will get you there.
After my heart checked out, the doctor (who looked a good two or three years older than the EMTs) ordered an abdominal ultrasound, which confirmed his suspicion of gallbladder problems. Because the facility is ER only, my ambulance virginity was about to be lost.
Actually, this was a weekend of many firsts for me. Until then, never have I ever:
- had an endoscopic procedure to remove not one, but two gallstones from my bile ducts (I’m an overachiever like that)
- had an endoscopic procedure of any kind
- had surgery to remove an organ (want to see my tonsils?)
- had surgery of any kind
- spent the night in the hospital for anything other than childbirth
- been discharged from the hospital without bringing a baby home.
In other words, I had a lot of things to cross off my bucket list when I got home Sunday night.
Then it occurred to me — who put these things on my bucket list? Not me!
Modes of transportation on my bucket list include the Zamboni at a Blackhawks game (check), a cruise ship, and a limo to the Oscars. An ambulance? Not so much.
If I’m listing things to be removed from my body instead of major organs, I’ll choose wrinkles, dark circles, and 50 pounds of ugly fat.
If I’m going to spend two nights in an expensive room, I’ll pick a luxury hotel in the Loop over the hospital any day.
I still don’t know who edited my bucket list, but as with all of life’s experiences, there is always good to be found.
When you proclaim, “It’s going to be a great weekend! I have absolutely nothing to do!” don’t be surprised when karma says, “Hold my beer.”
I have a great appreciation for the wonderful medical professionals who took such good care of me. Not only did they quickly and accurately diagnose and treat my problem, they provided an overabundance of TLC throughout. Never in a million years could I do any of their jobs, which makes me ever more grateful that there are people who have those gifts in such abundant supply.
I already appreciated my husband, Mike, but he has gone above and beyond as my caretaker. I’m sure this wasn’t on his bucket list either, but he has embraced the role without complaint. In sickness and in health, you know. He’s one of the good guys that understands that.
So I’m home, “resting comfortably.” Thanks to laparoscopic surgery, I came home feeling pretty good, and feel better every day. I’m hoping to go back to work, at least part-time, next week.
In the meantime, it’s weird to have all this free time and not be “getting things done.” I truly thought my laziness was much more inherent. So I guess that’s a good revelation. Plus look — fodder for a blog post!
One of my biggest concerns, of course, was being ready for the high holy days. No, not Christmas. Halloween. It’s one thing to miss a few weeks of work, but quite another to miss the most wonderful time of the year! But no worries. I have it all figured out.
When the big day comes, if I’m feeling poorly, I’ll just make a costume change. I figure I’ll just go as Cleopatra. All I need is a couple of strapping young men to carry me around on a stretcher.
Maybe I should have gotten a phone number from the EMTs.
—Laurie O’Connor Stephans
Laurie O’Connor Stephans says the only thing wrong with finding humor in emergency surgery is that it hurts when she laughs. While waiting to show off her scars at EBWW2020, Laurie explores real life from this funny perspective in her blog We B Late, found at laurieoconnorstephans.com.