I made it. The last month of school before summer break. Just one more month to go and sweet sweet vacation will become a reality. Sophmore year has been full of awkward moments that can finally be put in the back burner because holy heck I can actually see summer from here. This last month is just going to breeze by. A few final projects and final exams here and there, and soon enough it’ll be the last week of school and I’ll be out of here.
Hell, some of these projects even seem pretty fun. Just like the one I’m doing today. English project. Their Eyes Were Watching God is the book. I’ve even got some pretty awesome groupmates to do this with. Miguel and Joban. Two guys with ideas just as ridiculous as mine. We came up with the idea to make a video of one of the scenes from the book. Yes, us three guys are going to act out a scene from a book where there are predominantly female characters. Don’t question us. I would be playing the pivotal role of the grandmother, because yes that’s what every high school boy dreams to be. This project has potential.
We meet up in a park near school as planned. It’s our weekend and we could be doing happier and lazier things, but hey school comes first right? And I’m born ready for my premier role as a grandmother. Joban even brought one of his moms dresses from home for my wardrobe. Even if just by looking at the dress his mom seems to be twice my height, I’m going to rock this outfit if it’s the last thing I do. Lets start filming because I am ready to be captured on that silver screen. That’s when the pain stabs me in the stomach, and I genuinely wonder if being in this dress really is the last thing I’ll ever do.
The 90 degree California sun does not help at all. I’m being roasted here, hunched over in a black and white floral muumuu while this pain is surging through my body. This isn’t one of those comfortable and familiar pains. This is a brand new, piercing agony throughout my body. I can’t take this anymore. I can feel the sickness rising up my throat. I barely make it to a trashcan, and I let loose all that acid from within. Any hopes I had that throwing up would help alleviate my pain were quickly dashed away by yet another sharp twang from the left side of my stomach. If this is what being stabbed feels like, I think I’ll pass on making close acquaintances with knives.
My parents snatch me up in a hurry. They know me as the type to never complain about anything at all, so this is brand new to them as well. Thankfully Joban had the sense to get me out of his moms dress before my parents picked me up. At home, I lied down on the couch, seeing as that was the only position that gave me any inkling of comfort. I felt my eyelids get heavy, and sleep decided to wash over me. I awoke to the sounds of pages being turned and the evening news puttering off in the distance. My moms got her head buried in a medical handbook. The pain is still there, though it seems to have traveled to the right side of my stomach now. My mom starts giving me the inquisition. How bad does it hurt? How long has it hurt for? What did you eat this morning? Where does it hurt? The answer to that last question piques her interest, and there she goes flipping through the medical handbook yet again. Why does the pain moving from the left side of my body to the right mean so much to her? Detective mom at work. And there she goes shoving the book in my face. “Pain moving from the left side of the stomach to the right side”. There it is, listed right there under symptoms of appendicitis. Awesome. Hospital time for me.
Waiting for a doctor is always kind of nerve racking. I’m just sitting here trying not to focus on the worst case scenario. I can’t even do it in silence because every little move I make causes this stupid butcher paper I’m sitting on to crunch. All these posters of the human body seem like they’re staring right through me. And these pamphlets ranging from how to live a healthy lifestyle to the special needs to a growing teenager have my mind racing in more directions I can handle. Finally that door handle clicks, and the doctor is in. Stern looking guy. He has a goatee. He immediately pokes at my stomach with some cold hands. No it doesn’t hurt there. Not their either. Yes, that’s where it hurts. Yes, it hurt on one side and now it hurts on the other. Oh that’s bad? Put on this hospital gown? Uhh okay. Wait why are you giving me a hospital gown that doesn’t close up in the back? Is that normal? Whatever I’m just gonna go along with it. Okay you’re gonna do some blood tests? Alright then oh whoa hey that’s a pretty thick needle and you’re gonna stick that in the inner part of my elbow? Ouch. That’s not comfortable at all man. Ahh hey that’s my blood filling that tube. That looks pretty unsettling. Yeah, IV tubes are no fun. Let’s not get any more of these.
Looks like I’ll be spending some time here while they wait for my test results. Hospital beds and beige walls aren’t how I pictured I’d be spending my time right about now. The worst part is I can’t even sleep since I just got done napping not too long ago. Thankfully they’ve got me on some sort of pain meds and it’s keeping my stomach in check. I quickly learn that bending the arm my IV tube is stuck in is a sharp way to be reminded I’m in a hospital. Time keeps running by and every so often a nurse comes and checks up on me. This nurse ain’t friendly at all though, so I don’t really look forward to her visits. She kinda just sticks her head in, grunts at me, checks my IV fluids, and bumbles away. Finally, I win the battle against my conscious and sleep finally takes hold of me.
Is it morning already? Ahh the perils of sleeping in a room with no windows. Heck I don’t even have my phone or a watch on me to check the time. I imagine it must be some god awful time of morning. Who knows at this point. I look over at what woke me up and it’s that same nurse grunting at me. What a sight to behold with these freshly awake eyes. Shes got more of a frown on than usual. I wonder what’s wrong. Oh she’s holding my IV tube. Uh oh, it looks like it got backed up while I was sleeping. I’m no doctor, but I don’t think that fluid should be pink. Guess my blood was starting to fight back a little bit. Well that’s not amusing at all to my nurse here. She starts prowling through some of the drawers in the room. She plunges her arm into one and emerges with a syringe. Still silent, she sticks the syringe into a plug in my IV tube and I see all that pinkish fluid quickly disappear. But wait, if it’s not being sucked into the syringe then where is it oh my god she’s pumping everything into my arm please help this is not a good feeling at all. Just a rush of cold in little streams down my arm. And with just as much fanfare as she came in with, my nurse walked right on out.
My doctor and the parentals are the next to barge in. Good news, test results are in. Bad news, yep you’ve got appendicitis. And it’s worse than we thought. You’ll be getting surgery to have it removed pronto. Well, whatever. Lets just get this over with. This whole thing has been weird enough as it already. I’m also pretty much done with having this constant sharp pain in my side, so please fix me? Heck, maybe I’ll even get to keep my appendix, just like in that one episode of Sister Sister. They gotta transfer me to a different hospital though. Something about my current one being unprepared for it. Like really, you’re a hospital in the ghettos of Richmond and you’re not prepared for a simple appendectomy? But you’re totally cool with people coming in with gunshot wounds and knife stabs right there on the spot. Whatever hospital. Your call. I assume it’ll be my parents driving me to the new hospital, but that’s not in the plans at all. We can’t have you disconnect from your IV tube now can we? You’ll be transported via ambulance. Heck yes. Always wanted to ride in one of those guys.
In no time at all, some EMT’s come into my room and wheel me out. Now these two are living proof that opposites attract. She’s this tiny little thing that’s more smile than face. He’s bald and grim and the owner of biceps the size of my head. The mouse and the bull I call them in my head. We get outside and that nighttime cold smacks me right in the face. Guess I wasn’t asleep as long as I thought I was. We get up to the ambulance, and at that moment I realize why my EMT’s are paired up. The mouse hops up into the back of the ambulance, and in one giant heave the bull lifts me up entirely by himself while the girl gently guides me in and locks my gurney in place. My mom hops in the back, the doors slam shut and the bull is driving. I take a second to get used to being in an ambulance and find it isn’t all I’ve dreamed of. All I can smell is this sickening mix of bleach and old blood. The walls are lined with cabinets packed to the brim with gauze and needles and band aids. How do these EMT’s even do this? Do they really save lives back here?
A pothole here, swerving around a bad driver there, and we are bouncing. Definitely not the smoothest drive. My IV tube isn’t taking too kindly to all this excitement. It’s making a racket up against the wall of the ambulance. Clack, clack, click, clack. Can’t even think straight. After a few seconds of this noise pollution, the mouse hops up, takes a band aid out of one of the cabinets, and sticks my IV tube to the side of the ambulance. There we go, no more noise. Yeah, she might have done this a few times before. Our new found awkward silence quickly turns into a lot of happy chatter from the mouse. Yeah, she’s definitely done this a few times before. The ride flies by and next thing I know we’re here in Oakland. Ahh great, she even remembered to unstick me from the side of the ambulance. Another heave ho from the bull and he’s got me out the back of the ambulance. One last wave to the mouse, and I’m through those hospital doors. At that point, the bull mutters the only words I hear him speak the entire time. Good luck kid. And with that, they’re gone.
Here in the lobby, I seem to be forgotten. Even though it’s the middle of the night, everyone seems to be in a rush. It’s one nurse darting one way, a doctor rushing another. Loud voices seem to be calling from every direction. It looks like pure confusion. Finally, I see two nurses in the distance looking over at me and talking. One is gorgeous, and the other is hideous. Omg omg they’re both walking my direction please choose me no wait why don’t walk past me no no no. My usual luck rings true as I’m pushed away by the grouchiest looking nurse on the planet. I’m wheeled into this tiny little room where my doctor meets up with me one last time before the surgery. No questions? Alright then here we go.
The hospital lights fly past me as I’m wheeled down hallway after hallway. It’s exactly like scenes from a medical TV show. An older looking doctor even pokes his head out through a door as he sees me passing by to wish me luck and to stay strong. Is the director about to pop his head out and yell cut? I finally reach probably the whitest room I’ve ever seen. Seriously, perfectly clean is an understatement for this place. It’s so white that I can’t tell how big the room is because the walls blend in with the floor. Remember that scene in the Matrix where Neo and Morpheus are standing in a purely white room and all of a sudden all these guns fly by them? Yeah, it was kinda like that, except without all the firepower. The only color I see comes from a blue cloth lined with silver medical instruments, and a tiny little window near the top. Wonder if there’s actually an audience up there. I’m suddenly surrounded by a few doctors and here we go. One of them sticks something into my IV tube and the last color I see is black.
I’m awake. Where am I? Oh that’s right. I guess the surgery went decently alright if I’m still alive at this point. It takes a few seconds for me to grasp my surroundings. I’m stuck in the corner of this room that seems to be the post-surgery waiting room. It’s just filled to the brim with people lying on hospital gurneys. Everyone looks like a complete mess. Disheveled would be an understatement for some of the guys in here. Although I’m now one of them and I haven’t had access to a mirror in awhile so who knows how I’m looking at the moment. Various beeps and moans fill the room. The guy next to me seems to be the most vocal, although none of his words seem to be directed my way. He’s complaining about his foot to nurses that don’t seem to care. I glance down towards his feet and yep, they’re looking a little rough around the edges there buddy, no wonder you’re complaining so much. Oh yeah, I had surgery myself didn’t I? I try looking down but everything’s covered up by some blankets. I try and sit up but a sharp twang of pain tells me not to do that anymore. Looks like I’m stuck here for now. A nurse notices I’m awake and asks how I’m doing. Okay I guess. She disappears around the corner to make a phone call and the next person I see is the grump master nurse walking in and pushing me away.
I find myself being wheeled into a quite different part of the hospital than what I’ve grown accustomed to. The walls are bright and colorful. There’s cutesy paintings everywhere. Oh great, they’ve got me in the children’s ward. I guess being 15 still makes me a kid. I get pushed into what appears to be my room, and I meet my first ever roommate. Poor kid. He’s got to be only about 7-8 years old. Wonder what he’s in here for. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough. I’m reunited with my parents and they seem happy enough to see me. The room gets pretty crowded with my parents, my roommates family, and a bunch of doctors and nurses running in and out checking up on us. Just from the friendly small talk between my family and my roommates, I find out that the kid is in there for having migraines. Seriously, poor kid.
I’m getting pretty sleepy though. The commotion in the room seems to have died down for now at least. Seems like the perfect time to take a nap. Kind of weird to be sleepy after being knocked out for surgery but maybe it just wasn’t the right kind of sleep. I feel myself starting to slip away but my peace is cut short by a series of loud beeps from one of the machines I’m attached to. Wonder what that means? I start falling asleep again, but for a second time I get attacked by the loud beeps. One of the nurses comes over and tells me not to worry about it. So I guess I shouldn’t worry about it. Can’t get much sleep with the machine going off every few seconds though. Suddenly, some random EMT is fiddling around with my machine. Who is this guy and where did he come from and why is he here? Seriously, he seemingly appeared out of thin air. He starts shaking my shoulder. Hey, wake up! Don’t fall asleep. You might not wake up if you sleep now. Okay buddy, I’m wide awake now. The EMT rushes out the room and quickly comes back with a doctor. They tell me that the beeps I was hearing meant that my blood oxygen level was getting dangerously low. Especially since I was falling asleep and my breathing and getting slower and slower. So much so that I might have passed out from oxygen deprivation if I had fallen asleep. Thank you random EMT. The doctor explains that they might have given me too much anesthetic when putting me under, and the effects are still lingering in my body. The doctor leaves and then comes back with a machine that looks like the first prototype for a breathalyzer. Apparently I’m supposed to breathe as much air into this machine as possible. Oh right, exercising my lungs to make them actually retain oxygen again. Makes sense to me. Looks like I’m stuck with this machine for now. No sleep for me.
Between sessions on the breathing machine and assuring my parents that I feel fine now, I get the chance to finally peek at my stomach. All that’s there is a small patch of cloth that’s been taped down. Only color to it is this little yellow stain peeking through the cloth. Hopefully I haven’t sprung a leak. My parents leave for the night and it’s down to just me, my roommate, and his mom. She apparently sleeps on the couch in the room to be with her son. Heck of a mom there. It also looks like I’m out of the dark with that whole breathing situation. Apparently all I needed to do was just stretch my lungs out a little. With nothing else to do, me and my roommate decide to watch a movie. I let him choose the movie. Hopefully it’s not a stupid little kids movie oh wait what, he picked the Digimon movie no way. Best roommate ever. We get through the awesomeness of Tai and Matt saving the world, and soon enough the TV is turned off and the blankets are brought up to our chins.
I wake up in the middle of the night. Perfectly quiet except for the faint hum of the occasional car passing by outside. I’ve got to use the bathroom. Oh boy, this is going to be an adventure. My doctors have given me permission to walk around, but I haven’t done so since my surgery. Thankfully there is a bathroom in my room. Not thankfully, the bathroom is across the room on my roommates side. Well, here we go. I swing my legs out my bed and my feet meet the cold floor. I grab my IV tubing and wheel it along with me. I work my way across the room as silently as possible in order not to wake up my roommate or his mother, but it’s kind of hard to be ninja mode with this IV tubing squeaking along next to me. Right as I’m passing by the mom on the couch, I remember that my hospital gown isn’t closed up in the back. They gave me one without the strings that tie the back together. And it’s not like I can hold it together with my hands. My left arm has got the IV tube in it, and my right arm can’t stretch backwards because of this fresh cut on my side. So here I am, ass out in the middle of the night in front of this poor kids mother. Whatever, it’s either this or peeing myself. I assume she’s sound asleep as I finally make it to the bathroom and do my business. Step by step I make it back to my bed, 100% sure that this random mom got a full on view of Sean ass. I delicately put myself back under the covers and let sleep take control yet again.
My ears open before my eyes. Why’s there so much noise going on? I peek over at the other side of the room just in time to see some EMT’s lifting my roommate up from his bed to a gurney. Guess he’s going somewhere. His mom notices I’m awake and tells me that he’s getting transferred to another hospital. Good luck kid, good luck. I wave to him one last time as he gets pushed out the door. My parents walk in not long after. We hang out for a bit. Small talk with the parents. Always a good time. My doctor comes in as well and says that he think it’ll be good if I get some exercise. Get the juices flowing inside of me. He says that I should take a lap around the hospital floor. He’s gonna have his interns come in and look after me as I do it. Also, depending on how my little trip around the hospital goes, they might release me that same day. Alright, let’s not screw this up.
My interns are fresh faced and way too happy for their own good. 2 guys, 2 girls, and 4 clipboards. Coats white as my operating room. Shoulder to shoulder they stand, backs straight as a ruler. They have more questions than mouths. I can barely keep up with all of them talking to me at once. They’re excited for a reason. They got to watch my surgery. Looks like I had an audience after all. They also want to see me make a lap around the hospital floor. I can make that happen. First things first though. This entire time talking to them, I’ve still been ass out. Just back end flowing in the breeze. In between all their questions, I finally convince one of them to bring me another hospital gown. They end up just slapping this one right on my back so I’ve got some superhero cape action going on now. No more bare backing for me. The interns decide not to take a walk with me. A couple of glances at their clipboards means other patients to see. They send my dad along for the ride. Just make sure he makes it back. As if I’m going to make a break for it. This walk is going good enough. One step in front of the other. I’ve been doing this my entire life. My stomach is starting to feel a little strange though. Kind of feels like that first day I was sick. I can feel something starting to come up. Where’s a trash can when I need it? Thankfully there’s one right around the next corner and here I am again, head deep in a trash can. In the hospital kitchen. Right next to their microwave. Sorry guys, hope there isn’t any splatter. Welp, looks like this little trip hasn’t gone quite exactly to plan. My dad does nothing but rub my back. Not much else he can do to be honest. All this bright yellow liquid finally stops pouring out my body and now it’s time to make it back to my room. More steps, but these go by even smoother than before. Throwing up has made me a little more motivated to get back to my room. One last step into my room and I’m greeted by 4 wide eyed smiles. Interns lying in wait. How was it? Are you tired? Any problems at all? My dad speaks before I can even think. Nope, no problems at all, right son? Yeah dad, nothing wrong at all. Oh great, you’re a strong boy. Looks like you’re heading in the right direction to be discharged. Thanks for the bro save there dad. That’ll be the closest you ever get to bailing me out of jail.
Lets go home. Words I’ve been wanting to hear since I first set foot in the hospital. First thing I want to do is take a shower. Haven’t done that in a few days. I’ve got all sorts of hospital funk attached to me. I can smell myself and it’s not good. Before I can hop in the shower, my mom tapes a plastic bag to my side. Can’t let my bandage get wet. Looks like I’m gonna have to get used to showering with a trash bag for the next few days. Home life goes on as normal. The only things I can’t do are obviously any heavy lifting or strenuous activity. I even find myself going back to school to close out the year. Never did finish that video though.
The bandage eventually comes off and leaves behind just a few pieces of medical tape. Those too fall off with time and a few warm showers. All that’s left is a straight scar, about 2 inches in length. I never did find out what happened to my appendix. I wonder what kinda life it lived once it left my body. Who knows, maybe it’s sitting in a glass jar on one of those interns desks right about now. That scar is still as prominent as ever, serving as a reminder to be thankful for modern medicine, observant EMT’s, and Digimon.