Sometimes I wish I had achieved my childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, just so I could help people, the way people have helped me. I loved science, dearly, when I was in school, but as a career, I think I gave up on it. Which I suppose is kind of sad, I nearly did engineering, I nearly did biology, I nearly did nanotechnology — but in the end, I chose a communication degree, and I chose to study postgrad in multimedia.
Last week, on Thursday, I bought an iPhone 5c (it is a damn gorgeous phone!). I bought the white one, after convincing myself that my indecision would lead me to hate any of the other colours after a while, and promptly named it Moontrooper two days later, after deciding that Tristanator would only be the name of my future electric guitar and only if it is not pink, and that despite giving my iPod, iPad and iPhone 4S the names Gumdrop, Gumpop and Gumball, respectively, “Gumball II” wasn’t really going to cut it.
Walking towards the Apple store in inexplicably sweltering weather (it was 40°C), I realised that the pain around my abdomen — that I had been feeling at least one day prior — was still present. I ignored it, thinking that I must have slept funny, or walked a lot over the long weekend and made myself sore. Pain is not new to me; as a not-so-frequent runner but still loving to run, and a not-so-frequent exerciser due to a full-time work schedule, not to mention a crazy girl who walked two towns in high heels one summer night, just to make it to one of her favourite band’s gigs.
And then, of course, there’s the regular pains that come with being a young woman. Mine aren’t usually bad (at all), and this time I assured myself that this pain was not just PMS. It felt like a dull muscle ache. Like I had been doing far too many situps or twisted my hip. Over the week it got more painful and it was hurting to walk. I ignored it, and told myself it would go away.
On the weekend I wasn’t feeling any better. I was taking painkillers that did not help much. I suddenly felt horrible, momentarily suicidal, and had to stop myself from swallowing a handful of pills.
It makes me think. When you’re at your worst, when you look like shit, feel like shit, when you are fainting, have vomit all over your clothes, are completely drunk, are crying and bawling, whatever you would imagine is your worst state — the people who will be there for you are the people who care about you. My mum had taken multiple days off when I was ill, Brandon had brought me things when I was too ill to get up… I had been texting Tristan for some time and I messaged him, please, talk to me, because I just tried to hurt myself. Somehow just having someone to talk to (not even rant to) made me calm myself down, just to have someone to listen.
I had a crummy Saturday night — I had to photograph a gig, and was not keen on it at all but I did my job and returned home at just past midnight. It did not help that it was an acoustic show with very emotional music that was bruising my mood.
I managed to trudge through Sunday and Monday, but left class early on Monday night because I felt the need to go to the doctor. The pain around my abdomen worsened, and it hurt to do anything. Walking, standing, sitting, laughing, sneezing. I visited my doctor (GP), who immediately suspected appendicitis. She said that it may have been at an early stage, because of the location of the pain. Normally, appendicitis is indicated by pain on the right side, and when you push down on your stomach, the pain momentarily feels a lot worse when you stop pushing. But I didn’t feel that, and the pain was mostly on my left side.
My doctor gave me a referral for an ultrasound, and I had that the next morning. One of the doctors at the medical scanning centre said that ultrasounds are usually pretty accurate, and he could not find anything wrong with my appendix. Everything seemed normal. That day I started to feel nauseous and the pain was getting so much worse. While I can casually say it hurt to walk, it hurt a lot to bend over, and I could barely put my socks and shoes on properly. I had to lie down sideways in an awkward position to put my jeans on. The doctor said that I might actually have an ovarian cyst that could be causing the problem, which he deduced from the site of the pain. He assured me that it would be okay, and that it could all be treated as it would be in early stages, but all I could give a toss about was the pain shooting through my abdomen.
He phoned my doctor and they both agreed that I should have a pelvic ultrasound to check my ovaries and uterus, and if that was all clear, I would get a CT scan to see what else they could find, and to confirm whether I had appendicitis or not.
Naturally, that doctor from the medical scanning centre asked if I usually had painful period pain. I shook my head. I have been lucky enough not to have painful PMS other than mood swings, and then again, every girl gets mood swings.
I went to see my GP again and she gave me some tablets to ease the pain. They worked that afternoon and I felt less pain, but I was so lethargic I fell asleep on the couch. I felt well enough to get up and buy some dinner that day, with Brandon and Ricky accompanying me. I even had a sundae. Also, my diet has been trash lately because I haven’t cared much for what I have been eating. I’ve also been picky, craving stuff, and being an overall moody person. I feel sorry for my mother, but I am so thankful for her taking care of me. She suspects it could just be really nasty PMS (and I haven’t ruled that out either, I guess), but god forbid, if it is like this every month, I may start throwing things.
This morning I had a pelvic ultrasound. It required me to drink a litre of water beforehand, and not go to the toilet. I actually started to feel pain in my bowels then, and an urge to use the toilet, but I hesitated. I didn’t feel like I needed to urinate, so it was not as uncomfortable as the receptionist warned me it might be. Still, holding onto your pee just sucks. And it’s generally not nice for your kidneys. And I have to admit, as a kid, I was really not nice to my kidneys.
My mother and I went back home and I slept. A few hours later we went to pick up the results, which indicated that there was nothing wrong with my ovaries, uterus, spleen, kidneys (ha ha thank goodness) and the like. I made my mum pick up the scans because I didn’t want to “get out of the fucking car” — yeah, my moods have not been too good as of late, thanks to this pain. My regular GP was not in, so I saw another doctor, who I had seen regularly a few years ago. My mum fell asleep while we were waiting. I was reading Looking For Alaska by John Green, occasionally shifting my sitting position because it was painful to sit up properly.
The doctor actually suspected that I might just have another case of full colon, like I did a couple of years ago, or that something was up with my bowels. She made me go for a urine test. That showed no sign of infection, so I headed back to the medical scanning centre to prepare for my CT scan.
I had to drink this special dye, which was mixed with some orange cordial so it didn’t taste weird. But after drinking a litre of that stuff, I had to sit for an hour-and-a-half to give the liquid time to go down. The lady informed me that I would probably experience diarrhea and that would be normal. I was thankful that the couch in the waiting room allowed me to slouch as much as I wanted without looking like a tool and that I had a book to keep me occupied.
When I finally went in for the CT scan the lady explained to me what would happen, and that the injection would make me feel rather hot. “You might feel like you’ve wet yourself,” she warned, “Because it will be spreading all around your body including your groin. You won’t wet yourself though, that has never happened to anyone.” She stuck a needle in my arm and complimented me on my beautiful veins. (Why has this been happening as of late?) Sure enough, I did feel the weird hot sensations around my body, but it didn’t last long. I was starting to get a headache, but the sky blue tiles with painted clouds on the ceiling calmed me a little. I still hated the light, it felt so bright.
Once that stuff was through, my bowels were screaming at me to go to the toilet but I ignored them because the doctor there wanted to briefly inform me and my mother of what was up. He said that CT scans could essentially find many normal and abnormal things in the body, and that they still did not detect any appendicitis. They did, however, find a large varicose vein in my pelvis (pelvic congestion syndrome) and some hemorrhage in one of my ovaries, which was undoubtedly causing the pain. Later my mum did tell me that she thought the doctor underestimated how bad my pain actually was, and he didn’t seem to notice. After we briefly talked about that and he said that my GP would be able to help further, I sat down to change back into my clothes. I don’t remember much of what happened next because I had actually been feeling very faint since the doctor started talking. My mum asked me something and I couldn’t hear her, and my vision went white, like I was having some kind of freaky epiphany or that I was probably walking through the afterlife or I don’t even know, but it sucked, and I told my mum I wanted to throw up so bad, and that I was sorry, but I couldn’t hear a thing she was saying because my ears were ringing so bad.
I blacked out for at least a few seconds — suppose you could say I whited out, because I saw white, and I vaguely remember someone having to carry me to a bed. She gave me some weird tube bag thing to throw up in if I needed. I just remember feeling so much pain when I regained some kind of consciousness, and people were helping me step up onto a stool and lie down. I still had a bloody needle in my arm from the CT scan and I could feel so much pain in my arm as well, it hurt to talk and I wanted to throw up but nothing came out. I curled up in a foetal position on the bed and they got me a blanket and looked at my blood pressure and checked my heart. I remember sobbing almost violently, not wanting to say another word because it hurt nearly every part of my body and if it didn’t hurt, it felt numb. I just wanted to sleep. It was a relatively normal reaction from the CT scan, but likely made worse by the fact that I have low blood pressure. The old man who had his scan after me seemed totally fine, and he was talking to his wife about the experience in such an enthusiastic way.
Once I recovered and they took the damn needle out of my arm and fixed me up again, my mum checked for when the full results could be picked up (in the morning). I have to follow up with my GP still, to see what medication I will be put on and if surgery will be necessary. Setting myself down on a couch momentarily, these two little girls, not much younger than seven, and likely sisters, asked me what happened to my arm. I told them. They were awfully cute. They asked if it hurt. And one of the girls said, “Your hair is so soft! Do you wash and brush it in the mornings?”
I told them I liked to use shampoo that made my hair soft, and that I would always brush my hair after I washed it. Six years ago that would have been a lie — I never brushed my hair in high school. It just stayed flat, or I wanted it to be like bed-hair, or teased, or boofy.
“Does it go all wavy when you go outside?”
That was the cutest thing I heard all day. Bless them. Bless children, for knowing something as simple as the weather making your hair frizz. They both had soft curls in their hair, and their hair was braided with multiple coloured hair ties and clips with butterflies.
I went home, finished Looking For Alaska, cried a little at how wonderful the book was, ate some dark chocolate, and lay in bed with the window open, tucking myself under my bright purple, red and yellow wool blanket. I heard Tristan’s younger sister singing in the background over the phone, and recalled funny things James and I say in our own little language, and then I texted Lilian for almost two hours just catching up on everything, forgot about dinner really, and then I decided that maybe, if I didn’t think about it, the pain wouldn’t seem so bad.