Friday, August 26, 2005


Two nights ago...

I’m typing on the computer. Cramp in my side. I hunch over the keyboard on my blonde wood breakfast table trying to make it go away. A hot shower—that’ll do it. I jut out my torso into the spray of scalding hot water. My stomach relaxes. Lights out by 9:30. Hoping for a restful night of sleep.

The pain awakens me. Is it possible to give birth out of the right side of your stomach? I wonder. It’s THAT bad. The clock over my refrigerator reads 11:45 p.m. I curl up hoping that the pain will dissipate with the new position. I adjust and readjust. The sweat on my forehead is not lying. I have to do something.

Within 20 minutes I’m in the Bellevue Emergency Room. This is where the crazies come, I think. BELLEVUE.

“Describe the pain on a scale from 1 to 10,” the bright-eyed, young nurse asks.

“Around an ‘8,’” I say, hunched over with the health insurance clipboard in my lap.

“Sex?” she inquires.

“Pardon me?” I ask, incredulous. She’s questioning my gender, isn’t she? The nurse thinks that I’m a tranny because I’m at Bellevue.

“Have you had sex within the last 24 hours? This kind of pain could be caused by a U.T.I.” she responds calmly.

“Of course,” I say, reddening. “Ummm, no sex, no.” With embarrassment the pain deepens.

I’m swiftly moved to the back of the e.r. next to a blonde with bacterial meningitis. From my bed, I see her throw up white foam into a pan. I hear her say over and over “Jesus Christ, the pain, the pain…” The doctor administers a spinal tap. She and her pretty, blonde curls scream for morphine.

Bloop. Bloop. Bloop. I try to keep time with my I.V. and the leaky air-conditioning unit—they seem to release fluid at the same time. I stare at the white corkboard ceiling squares. Maybe it’s a two to one ratio, I think. I ponder this for a good long while. My mind wanders, my body begins to relax...

White sheets… Southern Boy … Manhattan … Mamma …swift death…iambic pentameter…Edna St. Vincent Millay…Monday night pizza at “Lombardi’s”…Sunday evenings on our lake…Pappy…cocaine and perfect health… Fitzgerald and East Egg…

In and out of the CAT scan machine and I’ve hit the 5 hour mark. I feel sick. I think about life...

His shoulders…summers on the bay…why me? ... “pickled”… tickled pink…

“You have kidney stones—innumerable,” the doctor says, rousing me. “We’ve also found cysts on your liver. You need to see a specialist. Sign here and you can leave.”

I signed. I left. My taxi driver smiled and asked why I was all alone.

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