I've Always Been This Awkward - Nine


Happy New Year, 2003! I feel like ass though. I didn’t even go out last night. I don’t “party.” I didn’t drink a drop of the demon’s potion. I have an eight-month-old daughter now. I have responsibilities. I just got back from 25 inches of Ithaca’s Christmas snow and the drive back from central New York was whiteout hell. I didn’t want to kill my new baby, so it was a stressful drive ("Yeah, I can see just fine"). I was already dumb enough to drive her from San Diego to San Francisco in October (after flying her to and from Washington). But that was so 2002. Now I’m just exhausted and I have no memories of any sort of New Year debauchery; and it’s not because I blacked-out either. I went to bed around 10:00. I didn't chug-a-lug anything. I had no shots. I smoked not a thing. I didn’t eat anything exotic; in fact, I now have no appetite at all. Maybe it’s gas. Maybe it’s constipation. And hell if I’m not so very tired. Logy, even. So this is the rest of my life as a parent and this is parenthood on New Year’s Day. Yay, how this sucks!

Fortunately for me my wife has gone shopping and now I can choose from Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, Gas-X, and Yogi Tea for balance or some shit. Thanks, dear. I can now resolve diarrhea and constipation simultaneously. I can fight nausea and gas. But I neither need to poop nor am I loose in the stoolie department (lamps are next to the stools, forth floor). I talk nothing because I just can't figure what's going on.

I just feel odd and it’s not really my stomach anyway…it’s more over on the side. Shit, the right side. What did Vinnie Broncatello say in tenth grade health class? No, not the bit about “wrap it up before you stick it in,” but the bit about the appendix (the class was a series of bits). Right side; where the lower intestine meets the large...but that’s supposed to be some serious pain, right? Maybe I’m just heroically tough, a genetic thing. Maybe I’m too fathered out. Besides it can’t be my appendix. How could that happen? That’s something that happens to lesser people.

The Rose Parade is well over and I’m feeling even more tired. Still that dull sensation in my side is annoying me. My wife is trouncing the brave face act too. She’s now insisting I “do something.” “Honey, I took some Pepto. I’m fine. I just have to poop or something.” Once you have kids you say, “poop” a lot.

Later: Hummm, that feeling isn’t going away but it’s not really getting worse. No problem. Maybe I have cancer though. It’s probably cancer with my luck. After so many years of joking about having a tumor the gods have finally cleared enough backlog to work my case and they’re not too happy with me ('weeee no haaaapeeee'). The tumor stuff is just material though, just a bit, gods, I plea. I always think it’s cancer, whatever it may be, especially headaches. My cancers drive people nuts, I'm sure.

“Okay, I’ll call her but I’m only going to get the service, you know?” I have to call my doctor now so my wife leaves me the hell alone, but I know she (my doctor) won’t get back to me anytime soon. Once I take a shit I’ll be fine. Besides, the mopes at the answering service will never in a million years get a cogent message to my doctor wherever she’s skiing on New Year’s Day. The answering service mopes are all totally hung over. Besides my doctor is just going to think I’m hung over and I’ll have to explain so much and I’m so tired.

It’s been three hours and now I’m getting that look that says that I should call the service back. I don’t know if the pain is worse or if my brain is just focused on my side anymore. I’ll just readjust myself on the sofa and everything will be fine – once I get this brick out of my intestine everything will be just fine. I’m optimistic, It’s my most endearing quality (shut up, I am optimistic). I’m going to be so embarrassed when my doctor calls. She’s going to tell me how much of a baby I am and how she’s charging me for wasting her time on the slopes.

One side of a conversation with a physician: “Hello? Hey, Doctor Karen, hiya. Sorry to bother you. Yeah, I just have this little…I wouldn’t even call it a pain. It’ s more of a dull…. What? Right side. Yeah, it’s about even with the belly button. Oh, about 6 hours now. No. No. Yes. But, it’s.… Oh, appendicitis, huh? Really? ER? Now? But, they’ll.... Okay. Yes. I’ll go now. Yeah, Shady Grove. Okay, thanks.”

One side of a conversation with the wife/new mother: “Yeah, that was Karen. She wants me to go have it looked at. Yeah, at the hospital. Probably just constipation. Well the ER because that’s what’s open. No. No, not an emergency. Definitely not. She's just being overly cautious, her words. She’s going to call ahead. C’mon, please? I’ll just drive over. No biggie. Of course I can drive! Well, probably a while since it’s the ER. It doesn’t really hurt anymore anyway. You know how it is. Yes, I’ll take my phone but you know they don’t let you call…. Yes. I will call.”
I drive over. Of course. The seatbelt reminds me that something is brewing over there. Dammit. Now I have to go and wait all day in the ER. And I didn’t bring anything to read. Happy New Year to me. Dammit!

I parked and walked in through the huge automatic ER doors. We all call it ER but it’s really the Emergency Department. But “ED” now means “Erectile Dysfunction” -- thanks Bob Dole. Great, now I have ED. Jesus if every sick kid, geriatric, and immigrant wasn’t sitting in the waiting room of the ER/ED. I’m tempted to leave and just tell my wife that they kicked me out; that it was nothing and I was wasting their time. At triage they take my information and inform me that my physician has called ahead. I know. I’m escorted directly into a room, well, it’s more like a bed with those sliding curtains, but, ha, I just jumped the queue. It must be nothing because it looks like they’re just going to breeze me through so they can help the sick children (and immigrants). But I do feel like the new King of the ER…er, King of ED. Great, I'm the king of erectile dysfunction. Thanks Bob Dole, asshole!

The ER nurse is actually very nice, not what I was expecting. Surprisingly nice since this place is packed. I am an island among the sick and the injured. I’m kind of embarrassed too because I'm wasting everyone's time here. The nurse asks me how I’m feeling and since it’s rude to say, “Oh, I’m fine” in the ER, I tell her something like, “Oh, I have a pain over here and it’s not too bad but it’s persistent and my doctor told me to come here since it's open and...” She fetches a doctor. The ER doctor is really nice too. Kind of funny and fairly fresh. He says, “Does this hurt?” and presses his doughy, hairless evil fingers into my side.

AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I guess I never mashed on the spot that sort of bothered me all day. Had I mashed on it a bit, I would have known something different. I would have had more robust data. Yes! Fuck yes, that hurts, dude! I just involuntarily howled, goddammit, didn’t you hear me?! What are you doing? Not only that, but now my dull pain is sharp and throbbing. You fucking hurt me, asshole! What the hell did this Filipino witch doctor do to me? Rat bastard voodoo-practicing devil. “I guess that hurts, huh?” he says, with an overly pleasant (sadistic) grin. Fucking bedside manner. “I’m thinking it’s your appendix but we’ll have to do a CT-scan. Do you want anything for the pain?” Uh, hello? Yes! Yes, I want something for the pain. I yelled out here. That shit hurts. Well, once he married the word
“med with “pain” I was highly cooperative; a model patient.

They ported me to an IV and they broke out the real drugs: Demerol! Just for me! I’m, uh, I feel…. I’m…. I…. I’m pretty high suddenly. IV motherfucker! Wow! Daaamnn. This ain’t so bad, really. It just hurt for a minute. I’m high enough to push on it right… AAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Oh.

They give me a jug of contrast to drink for my CT-Scan. It's the size of a plastic gallon container of milk. Whole milk. I have an hour to kill it and it doesn’t taste so bad. I even tried at some point to just chug the crap down and get it over with, which wasn’t the brightest idea and I almost booted it all up right there. Happy New Year! Chug! Chug! Chug!

Uh, YES, I DO want something more…uh, for the pain. Please. Yeah, I’m, uh… Uh… blasted now! “Hi, wife. How are youuu? How did you get here? Oh, yeah, I should have called but they brought me right in and all. Thanks for visiting. Yeah, they think it’s my appendix, just like I thought. They gave me some medicine and I have to drink this stuff and uh…. Uh, hey, there’s Lily. Oh, she brought you? Cool! Hey, Lily, take my picture! Cheeeeeeeese! Elliot’s life in ballet. Where's the baby?” I’m now riffing random phrases that make no sense to anyone. But, I’m sipping my contrast like a good little patient. Model patient.

Let me emphasize that I absolutely love hospitals. I love all institutions actually. Hospitals, airports, factories. I love everything about them whether I’m a patient or visitor. At hospitals I especially like the food and the gowns and the gadgets and all. The beds are so much fun. So it’s not like I’m hating on the situation. I’m actually enjoying myself beside the pain. Oh yeah, what pain? I’m now so stoned! Pain? I laugh at you, pain!

I’m high as a dirigible. I think my wife and Lily walked me over to the toilet at some point. Well, I kind of floated while they held my arms. I probably pissed all over my gown and didn't give a shit. I do remember feeling as if I were the king of the ER/ED and everyone in my busted ass kingdom was either sick or injured and I’d somehow heal them once I got my appendix fixed by the royal surgeon and stuff (and I could tell that if I wasn’t so fucked-up I would actually be in quite a bit of pain). But fear not peasants, I am still in charge of this kingdom, fear not, people! The state of the union is strong. As your president I will reduce taxes and provide free money to everyone. And a bicycle. Free lunch too. Do you like my hat? Huh?

Yeah, then I got a cool ride on the bed—the bed rolls!—to get a CT-Scan and the lights were so bright and the machine hummed so loudly and when they asked about metal jewelry I joked about my penis ring and they had to check even though I slurred “just kidding” like a hundred times. No really just kidding there's nothing on my wiener. Then a surgeon visited me and made me sign something about my permission to treat or something and I was so high and I think I drooled on the paper and laughed my ass off. What, I’m going to say no or something? What am I signing? I think I told him that while he was “in there” to give me a heart, a brain, and some courage. Surgeons aren’t necessarily witty. Cutters are serious. Is that what you call taking out my guts? Treat? I grant thee permission to treat me.

Another hit of my “medicine” in my IV, this time something about morphine, and a I was given a surgery slot and I’m laughing about something and Lily’s laughing too and taking pictures and wife’s looking both annoyed and worried and I’m blasted now. I thought I was blasted before but now I’m crunk as hell. If I die I’m going to die crunk as hell, man. Can they tell I’m so messed up? I mutter to no one in particular to tell Rich where my files are or something like that rolls out of my face. The lights so goddamn bright! Why do they have to make it so bright in here? They should be more green. Better, they should have lamps in here. Something mellow (lamps and stoolies, forth floor). Hey, I know you. You're the royal surgeon and he's some guy. There’s another guy and there’s pretty music and it’s dark but bright on my body. I guess I died. No! I’m in the OR. Cool! "Operation! The wacky doctor game." I say this several times. "Don't touch the side...butterfinger!"

So, yeah, I’m still doing material all the way in. I’m all, “Hey, can I have the parts back…in a jar or something? Waddaya mean no? It’s my appendix! If you get your muffler replaced you can have the old one back!” Some dude is shaving my tummy (when you have kids, you call it “tummy”). And the last thing I hear is, “Just put him down, now!” and they put this thing on my face and say, “Count backwards from a hundred” and I go, “99…............”

“He’s coming out” is the very next thing I hear and I’m so wonderfully warm and it’s just dark enough and these blankets are so tight and I must be in the womb again. I don’t want to be born. Not yet. This is too nice. And there’s a pretty face and a voice so soft and so pleasant and she’s all in white. An angel. Oh, I did die. And she says, “Hi. Everything is going to be all right. You did great! Don’t talk too much because your throat will be scratchy.”

Hurray, I did die and I don’t have to talk anymore. Happy New Year!


Bonus images by Lily (top) and me (bottom) as previously posted on Ministry of Propaganda):


I've Always Been This Awkward
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