“There is a speed limit. I am going as fast as I can,” K admonished me. I twisted my head and bit down onto the seatbelt like a raging pit bull. We seemed to be crawling down the road. I felt like I could have run there faster, except for the key fact that I was unable to run; this pain effectively hindered my ability to do much of anything at all. I was unable to think clearly through the astonishing waves of pain.
When I was a child, probably 9 or 10 years old, I thought I was a pretty good boogie boarder during family vacations. I would walk out into any wave of any height and battle through it. I wanted to boogie board, and no stupid wave could stop me. That was until one day when the beach where we were vacationing was struck by the tail-end of a tropical storm. Waves were supposed to increase in height. I did not heed those warnings, and a 12-foot wave slammed my frail, ragdoll, 10- year-old body into the sand and rocks. I felt helpless and stupid, much like I felt biting into the must-flavored, black seatbelt in the car with my girlfriend.
K kept driving, and I kept biting. Eventually, she turned left off of the road into a parking lot; it was the emergency room parking lot. We had made it. I flopped out of the car and began to move. My body did not want to cooperate. The pain was still pretty astoundingly bad, and I started to feel it spread downward into the right side of my lower abdomen. I zombie-walked into the building as K helped me along.
Inside the building, the woman at the front desk looked up, saw my condition, and grew slightly concerned. I attempted to explain the storm that was ravaging inside my body, but my condition had reverted me back to my early childhood state. I was a mumbling little boy. “It hurts so much on the right side of my body. Especially when I move. It.. it… urrgghghhhhhgghhhh.”
K patiently explained my dilemma.
The woman quickly snapped into action and arranged for me to be placed into a room. I’ve been in a lot of hospitals and emergency rooms. This was one of the nicer ones I had been in, and it morbidly felt like home. The floors were clean and shiny. The rooms had curtains that pulled across for privacy. I’ve always liked sliding pieces of blue material. They make me feel safe, even if the whole hospital can still hear my strange werewolf-like pain utterances when I am behind their protective cover.
A nurse came into the room and asked me the basic questions that I have heard so many times before.
“When did the pain start? What are you feeling right now? Are you allergic to any medications?”
I spit out some words, nodded, and grabbed at my side.
Then came my personal favorite question. “On a scale from 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?” Now, you need to know something. This was an important moment for me; it brought with it an epiphany of sorts. This pain was impressively horrendous.
Should I say 10? I wondered. Is it that bad? I don’t know if I have ever had pain this bad before? My brain churned and sloshed around like it was making butter, and out came words. I replied, “This is really bad. Probably a 9 or 9.5.” This experience and the increasing pain levels had proven to me that anything is possible, so I saved the elusive 10 on the pain scale for another day, another embarrassing stomach issue. It was deduced that I was to be given morphine for my pain. I was pleased, but a little nervous about the proposition.
The amiable nurse left the room and returned with a morphine kit, or whatever one needs to administer morphine to a writhing pain victim. “You may feel a little strange at first,” she told me. I nodded like a sad, sad puppy dog.
First she needed to place an IV into my arm. She inserted it incorrectly the first time and had to remove it and put it somewhere else in my arm. This caused quite a lot of pain, probably the most painful IV experience I have had, but it was nowhere near my stomach pain. Remember, this was a 9.5 out of 10 on the official hospital/emergency room universal pain scale. Once the IV was in my arm, she was able to insert fluids to keep me hydrated - next was the morphine.
Up until that point in my life, I had never had morphine. I became more and more anxious. She slowly started to inject it through the tube leading into my arm. I started to feel very strange. “It’s burning in my back and shoulders,” I complained.
“Hmm, I have never heard of that happening before,” the nurse replied.
“I feel really strange. It’s really burning in my back and shoulders. I feel really strange,” I repeated. The nursed appeared to be puzzled and concerned.