I have probalby written about this before, but as a certified senior, I repeat myself without apology.
So, let's return to those halcyon days of yesteryear. I was 41. [I think Roosevelt was president. Teddy Roosevelt.] My children were 11 and 14. It was Saturday night, about midnight. I had spent the evening in front of the TV, wearing my weekend uniform of a t-shirt and sweats, no hair or makeup. I fell asleep during SNL, only to wake up with pain that seemed to emanate from my knees to my neck. The pain was not specific, it was everywhere. I couldn't decide whether I was going to throw up or evacuate. Fifteen minutes of mounting agony passed, enough time for things to dial into focus. I began to realize that finding a seat on the toilet would be prudent.
My entire abdomen felt like it could explode. I didn't have a headache, although I felt completely out of it. My bones didn't hurt. My muscles didn't ache. This event was having all the hallmarks of BAD FOOD, a problem for anyone who eats in restaurants and bars.
The night before my attack, I had been with two girlfriends at the bar in the lower level of the Hancock, where we often gathered after work, waiting for the traffic to subside and go home. I remember eating lots of the free salsa. Much more than they did. Turns out they got a flu version of food poisoning. I got the Full Monty.
Now I was sitting on the toilet in so much pain that all I wanted to find was a cold place to rest my head. So, with my sweatpants around my ankles, I crawled off the can and made my way over to the bathtub. On my hands and knees with my entire body in agony, I rested the side of my face on the cool surface of the tub. Hmmmm, that sure felt good.
One thought kept repeating itself over and over, as my butt cheeks posed in the full moon position, "Didn't they find Elvis like this? Boy, I hope I don't die here, with my bare arse smiling at anybody who walks in.
Finally the cold edge of the tub revived me enough to sit on the throne again. Soon it was clear that I was in deep doo-doo, figuratively and literally, so I called 911.
I woke my kids up to tell them that I was going to the hospital, but not to worry because I would be okay, even though I was lying on the floor in a fetal position. The two of them stood, half asleep, staring at me, and mumbled something like, "Okay, Mom," and went back to bed.
My memory may be faulty, but I recall at least ten paramedics coming to my rescue.and as they transported me, I remember wishing I'd changed into something nicer or at least combed my hair.
At the emergency room I was stowed far away from everybody else. I found myself relegated to a darkened hospital room that had its own private toilet. I spent the next three hours sitting in there, taking care of business into a special container, which some lucky person would come to collect after each passing. And they wonder why there's a nursing shortage.
With almost nothing more left to poo, I started to feel like I might be okay. In fact, if I had been at home I would have made myself some tea and toast, turned on the television, and snoozed my way through the rest of the weekend.
So after one last batch, I figured they'd be letting me go home. Only this time, I noticed it was bloody. "Who did that?" I wondered. Funny how the mind disassociates when something comes out of your body that is just wrong. My reaction was, "This is some mistake." But reality set in. Rats. Now they've got me. I'll never leave.
With this new wrinkle I qualified for medical attention. A resident doc came in to examine me for admittance to the hospital. The exam consisted of raising my hospital gown and thumping my belly, I think. I was lying on a gurney barely half awake, exhausted from hours of trying to eliminate the poison from my body, so I didn't question what he was doing. Until later.
I was in the hospital for six days. I probably had e.coli or some kind of salmonella, but you have to do the cultures within 24 hours and 24 hours had passed between the time I got to the emergency room on Saturday at midnight and when the lab opened on Monday morning.
So the culture came back negative. Duh. Ironically, I kept passing blood for a couple of more days in the hospital, but when I asked if that would also be cultured, I was told no, because they had cultured that first batch.
So with a negative blood culture I had to endure conversations with a social worker who was operating under the assumption that this was "probably" an episode of colitis, a disease I had never had in my life. Clearly I was mental.
My friends called to say how sick they got only to OOOO and Ahhhhhh about how sick I was. I tried to tell the docs that I had friends who got sick too, but no one was listening.
Strangely, the week I was hospitalized was also the very week that hundreds of people were getting sick from salmonella in the milk purchased from a local grocery store chain. One I didn't frequent. Some people got flu symptoms. Some were passing blood.
After I left the hospital, I reviewed my micro books and realized there had been a screw up with the lab. So I wrote the hospital and brought it to their attention. If I had known I would be writing a blog I would have kept their acknowledgement of my excellent sleuthing, so I could quote it here. Oh well.
Meanwhile, the resident who admitted me to the hospital was coming by a lot. At the outset, he had to tell me who he was because I didn't have a clue. Like I said, I was out of it in the emergency room.
First he came by with his boss, who informed me that I was hooked up to an IV because I wouldn't be eating anything for a few days. Then "my doc" would also come by in the evening, once when my kids were there, to bring me a paper, show me a sigmoidoscopy report, exciting stuff like that. I figured that was his job. Apparently not.
The day before they let me out, after a delicious repast of Jello, cottage cheese, chicken broth and crackers, I finally felt well enough to put on some makeup. I figured looking human would get me home faster. One of the nurses came in and smirked, "Getting ready for a visit from the doctor?"
She must have seen the puzzled look on my face because she quickly changed the subject to something else. Hmmm, maybe the doctor wasn't supposed to be coming by so often.
The next morning I was set free. I got dressed, collected my things, and left my room, only to see "my doc" sitting at the nursing station. He greeted me and I watched the staff turn and look at me. I nodded to him, said goodbye quickly and left.
It was Saturday, a week since I had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance. That night I made a meal of tea with lemon and some cinnamon toast and settled in for an evening of SNL again. I dozed off, as usual, until the phone rang at one in the morning.
"Hello, Mrs. Linklater?"
[FYI: The caller used my first name, which I don't use here.]
I recognized the voice, but I couldn't place it.
"This is Mrs. Linklater."
Then he said something inappropriate. And I figured out who it was.
It was the doctor from the hospital.
He hung up.
At my next appointment I told my internist what happened. Yo, Doctor Doolittle, remember how I had food poisoning? Your resident made an obscene phone call to my house at one in the morning the night I got home.
Clearly, he thought I was insane.
Somewhere there's a weird doctor running loose. He'd be about fifty now. I know what you're thinking: