I was two weeks out from surgery, feeling pretty good if a little sluggish and stupid. Anesthesia does that, I was told, so I didn’t worry — just continued coasting along, keeping a sanitary pad between the incision and the waistband of my jeans, and weaning myself from the pain meds. No problem. Then one morning I woke up feeling strange, kind of achy, and very tired. So I went back up a notch on the meds, taking 800 mgs of ibuprofen. Vickie and Zara had gone for the day and I was supposed to feed the dogs. But I just didn’t feel like it. I sat down in the recliner to rest a moment when there was a knock at the door. The dogs, of course, went ballistic. So I slipped outside to find out who wanted what. It was a census worker handing out info for the expected upcoming census visits. I took the pamphlet offered and stepped back inside.
Suddenly I was struck with a violent shaking, my teeth chattering as though I was about to freeze to death. I knew something was very wrong, but I didn’t know what. I called the surgeon’s office. The nurse who came on the phone, after asking a few questions, said “Are you sure you don’t have a fever?”
“I couldn’t have a fever,” I said. I took all this Motrin about an hour ago.
“Check it anyway, and call me back,” she said.
I checked it. The thermometer read 102° F. Impossible. But there it was.
I called back, and received these instructions.
“Do not attempt to drive. Call a friend and have them drive you to the emergency room. Tell them what you told me. I’ll send your records down.”
So I did. And they took me in for observation. This was shortly before noon. By 5 p.m. I was in intense pain and was pretty sure I’d swallowed a small grenade that had detonated somewhere in my lower abdomen, way in the back.
“We suspect an infection,” they said, and ordered an x-ray. Their suspicions were confirmed. I would need an immediate course of I.V. antibiotics, carefully administered by an infectious disease specialist. And the infection would have to be drained by a skilled radiologist who specialized in inserting such drains. There were no such specialists available at the local hospital. In fact, there were no such specialists available anywhere.
Did I mention it was a Friday afternoon, the Friday before Easter, commonly called Good Friday? It wasn’t so good from my view. By the time I’d waited through the Easter weekend, got shipped by ambulance to a hospital 100 miles away where such specialists could be had, and waited for one of them to return from vacation and insert the drain, it was the following Thursday, I was in a very precarious place, and the movie was the very farthest thing from my mind. I was in no mood to sing.