Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Timeline of Extraordinary Gastrointensinal Distress

or: How to lose 10 pounds in 5 days!

or: April Fool's!

Saturday/Sunday, March 29th/30th, 12:30am. I have been drinking at the KP for several hours, and have just had 2 shots of wild turkey, one shot of tequila, and one shot of...something in less than an hour. I ooze down the stairs and into the men's bathroom. After clutching the toilet bowl and dry heaving for a few minutes, I decide to take matters in hand and and stick my fingers down my throat. Just in case you missed that: the same fingers that had just had a desperate grip on the TOILET BOWL in the MEN'S BATHROOM at a PUB just went into my MOUTH. I throw up and, for the time being, I feel much better. Ed and Belinda take me home.

Sunday, March 30th, noon. I am hung over. I cure my hangover with a lot of coffee and a big breakfast at Nellie's.

Tuesday, April 1st, noon. Ed and I eat lunch at this sketchy little diner near my place of work that doesn't seem to have a name. I make the decision (a poor decision, I readily admit) to have a crab salad sandwich and poutine. Deep within me, something stirs.

1pm. I go back to work, and immediately feel unwell. I feel crampy and bloaty and just...not good. I begin to rethink the crab salad.

1:20pm. I cut off one of my coworkers in mid-sentence and flee to the bathroom. Things go...poorly.

2:20pm. My coworker comes to check on me. I apologize for suddenly leaving. She takes it all in stride and reassures me that what is happening to me is perfectly natural, that everybody poops and I will feel better soon. She is also good enough to being me my cellphone and every magazine she can find.

2:30pm. I call Ed to tell him I am pooping to death. He laughs at me. I also complain that I am horrifically bored, since the only magazines my coworkers could find are Dreamhome Calgary and Luxury Bullshit Monthly. He pities me, and makes fun of me for ordering crab salad.

3:00pm. I cannot possibly poop anymore.

3:15pm. Is that...blood?

3:20pm. Yep, that's blood. Quite a lot of it.

3:25pm. I call Ed back. Things are now serious. We formulate a plan.

3:30pm. I call Neil at his desk and explain my dilemma. He was about to leave for the day anyway, and agrees to tell my boss what's happening, call me a cab, take me home, get our car and drive me to a clinic.

3:45pm. A cab arrives. I bolt out of the bathroom and into the cab, where Neil is waiting with all my stuff.

3:47pm. We make it home and I barricade myself in the bathroom again. Neil gets a registered nurse on the phone, who tells us to get to urgent care ASAP. I call Ed to let him know and he agrees to meet us there.

4:15pm. Neil and I meet Ed in triage. Neil has been a true friend and even got me some gatorade. His duty done, he leaves me in the waiting room of the new Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre. Due to a shortage of beds and confused staff, there is a huge line to that I have to wait in to even see a triage nurse.

4:45pm. I start to fade in and out of consciousness. My vision gets very strange -- I can only fix on certain things, like the buttons on E's shirt of blue flecks in the tile floor. I am also in terrible pain at this point. Every ten minutes or so, a security guard has to let me in to one of the PERMANENTLY LOCKED BATHROOMS so I can bleed into a toilet. I am afraid of passing out and not being able to call for help.

5:15pm. I finally see a triage nurse, who is very surly and bitches at me for not being able to describe my condition as clearly as she would like. I am finally allowed to register and BEGIN my wait.

6:00pm. My name is called! I go behind the curtain. Ed stays behind, as per a nurse's instructions.

6:15. I describe my condition again to a much nicer nurse. I give a urine and stool sample, change into a hospital gown, lay down on a cot and shake. Occasionally, I hobble to the bathroom. Several nurses come in to bring me blankets, and stare at my stool sample is abject horror.

6:45pm. I see a doctor for the first time. She is very businesslike, but warm. She gives me a full physical (a remarkable intrusive process) and orders a bunch of tests be done. She also tells me I am critically dehydrated and will need to be given intravenous fluids.

7:00pm. a nurse comes by again to check my blood pressure and I ask if someone can get my husband.

7:30pm. A nurse comes by to take some blood and get me ready for an IV. She tried three times to put the IV in my hand before giving up and popping it in at the elbow.

7:45pm. Someone finally goes to fetch Ed. He tells me I am doing fine, while looking at me with his Very Concerned Husband face on.

8:00pm. I am hooked up to an IV. I am given fluids and drugs to reduce the HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL CRAMPING.

9:15pm. The IV is drained and I am unhooked. As soon as I can, I hobble to the bathroom again.

9:45pm. The doctor comes back to tell me that my blood test is back and that it looks like I have an e. coli infection. She also tells me that the treatment for e. coli is...nothing. Apparently, prescribing antibiotics can lead a SEIZURES in e.coli sufferers, so all I can do is wait it out. She does tell me that, just in case, she wants me to have an x-ray to make sure I don't have a perforated bowel.

10:00pm. I have a series of x-rays.

10:10pm. I fall asleep.

11:15pm. My doctor comes back in to tell me I don't have a perforated bowel! Huzzah! I still have e. coli, though. She prescribes me more medication for the horrible cramps and agrees to send me home.

11:55pm. I am finally unhooked form all the instruments and allowed to go home.

The Aftermath: I have spent most of the last 5 days in my pajamas, either in the bathroom on on the couch, taking small sips of various warm and nourishing liquids. In the last two days, I have managed to start on solid food, though at a price (more pain). I've been told it takes 7-10 days to recover fully, and I believe it. Never, never have I been brought so low by a stomach bug.

The Moral: Be ye not so stupid. If you're going to drink to excess, at least be sure to puke in the girl's bathroom.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 10:21 p.m.!!