I awoke feeling sticky and a bit moist when I heard the alarm go off at 4:30 this morning. Blearily I silenced it and fumbled for the lights. I glanced back at the bed and saw the blood and tried to decide where it had come from.
Honestly, I never guessed me.
I went to the bathroom, deciding to deal with it in a minute, having more urgent morning matters to deal with and found out where the blood had come from completely by coincidence.
Huh. Well that was odd. I cleaned the sheets and the mattress cover which had been saturated as well (still not really thinking too deeply what that amount of blood could mean) and woke up the kids for school.
We all know, show must go on, and this is what pads are for. Not that I have ever had anything remotely of that nature happen. Actually nightly nothing ever comes out. I lay down, stuff stops. That's how I flow. But, hey, I am old now. Maybe stuff changed. Whatever. School to be gotten to, work to be done.
I dropped off the kids and went to work, still determined that it was going to be a normal day.
The pad was full and there was way more still coming.
I cleaned up again and it had only been an hour.
Again, whatever, clocked in and a little voice in the back of my head popped in with a service announcement. I have little voices that do that. It reminded me of a fact learned at some random point. The average menstruation is something like a few tablespoons of blood. This had to have been more than that. Like this had to have been cups by now.
And it was bright red like I was bleeding. But what could I be bleeding from? I was not injured. I had not had... ahem, interaction, so I knew it was neither pregnancy nor failed pregnancy.
What was bleeding and why so much?
I again decided I could ignore it. It was probably just something I ate, didn't eat, hormones, stress, something dumb. Nothing to fear.
By 8:30, I had filled another pad and I passed a clot the size of a baseball.
This, even I could not ignore. This was something wrong. Something was wrong and I could not explain it so I was going to have to do what I hate most of all...
Get it looked at.
I HATE HOSPITALS. I ALSO AM NOT FOND OF DOCTORS. I respect their position. I have an enormous crush on House. I am, however, terrified to the 9Th of medical professionals the way some people are of clowns and spiders.
There is actually a story behind this and it is longer than this blog was initially intended to be, but what the hey, I am feeling chatty and am stuck with my feet propped up anyway and you are still reading, so here is the root of my medi-phobia.
My best friends growing up were members of our church. Their names rhymed and were Wayne and Kane. Yup, boys, go figure. We won't go into Kane as he has no bearing on my phobia. Wayne was awesome. He had curly blond hair that was long, as was cool in the eighties and now, and freckles. His eyes were always a laughing blue. He was clever and fun and loved Lego's and Star Trek.
Wayne lived in Mentor and I lived in Painesville and we never would have met had we not gone to the same church. His parents were awesome. Wayne Sr. taught me lots that I, as a growing techie, wanted to know. Of course this was back in the day when my Commadore 128 was cutting edge as it ran both the 64 and 128 (only old folks would even get that, but then again, I still own Wayne Jr's Atari... not game system, computer. Talk about a dinosaur.) He also introduced me to the wonders of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Debs was everything I used to wish my mom was. Stay at home mom, which my mom wasn't and I can't afford to be and she was fun and liked to laugh and hang out and was cool.
He was my first "real" boyfriend. I wrote his name in hearts in my books. He took me on my first date. I won't go into the traumatic scene with my mom before (aren't there always at least one) but I will say I was teary eyed when my makeup was finally on. We were going on a Valentine's Day trip with the teen group (he was 15, I was 14, Gods we were young!) to Brown Derby. I walked into our dining room and he had gotten me a four foot tall Ziggy card. He had also gotten me a heart shaped box of chocolates, a red heart shaped pair of earrings, a dozen red roses, and a golden love knot ring with a real diamond in it (it was tiny, diamond dust really, but it was my first 'real' piece of jewelry as well).
I looked at it all and looked at him and those laughing blue eyes. Those same blue eyes had laughed at me from up in a crab apple tree as he had pulled me up and taught me how to climb a tree. Those same blue eyes had laughed at me as he had reached out and pulled me onto a merry go round the first time we had met. Those same blue eyes had laughed at me more recently when he had pulled me close in a corn field when we were playing hide and seek and I had thought he was going to kiss me. He had not.
Now they laughed down at me and he had said, "I wanted to give you a date you would never forget. Figured this would be hard to top." I reached out and his eyes laughed down at me and his strong fingers closed around mine. I remember thinking they always would. And that it was good.
I am thirty-two in a few weeks. He still hasn't been topped. It was the best first date. He was the best first date.
A few weeks later, the back pain he had been having, the pain he had gotten a new bed for because no one knew why a fifteen year old boy with a history of only asthma who never had been one to complain and now said his back hurt all the time... well, they figured out what was causing it.
Cancer. His kidney was the size of a cantaloupe and it was all cancer. Vigorous, aggressive, life altering cancer.
I remember he didn't seem scared. His faith, always more indomitable than mine, did not waiver. I was always, still am, one to curse God and shake my fist. He just said, it would be okay and gave me a hug.
There was talk of hope, and prayer and how strong he was being.
Everyone continued to watch me do all the wonderful things I did. I was still golden and healthy and terribly smart, or so everyone said. And I hated it. I hated being me because I watched as his curls, curls I could wrap around my finger around, when we were in the car and he rested his head in my lap, and coil them tight and then watch them bounce back into place, fell out. They fell out and I stayed healthy. We listened to Free Fallin' by Tom Petty and I continued to play with those last few strands of curls as he got more tired and more sick. Finally, there were no curls.
I got a pin that said, 'bald guys are sexy,' which he showed proudly to his nurses. The nurses all knew who I was. How could they not? He had my picture, pictures of us, pictures of me modeling, pictures of me healthy while he was sick and dying, plastered all over his wall.
It made me hurt. I smelled his skin and it smelled of medicine and not of Wayne. I saw his backpack, the one that had liquid food in it because he was too sick to eat, and I hated eating because why should I be able to eat when he couldn't? Nobody noticed I lost weight that year. They put a tube in his chest for the medicine, that was supposed to make him better, but that just made him so frail and thin. They taught me to clean it out. I smiled and joked with him but inside I was screaming.
I hated the doctors. I hated the hospital. I hated it all. They kept saying it was getting better and they lied to me. They smiled and they talked of hope and I smiled because he smiled and I watched him get worse. I kissed his head and I would leave and I would hope that I wouldn't make it to see him because it hurt to see him. But always when I did, those blue eyes laughed at me. And his hand, his hand that was always so much stronger and bigger than mine, would reach for me. And when it did, maybe things weren't so bad. Because, really, as long as he reached for me, it was ok.
And I would curse God because Wayne was good and kind and had faith and could make good things happen and I was really good at messing things up. I was good at not having faith. I was good at being bad. What kind of world was God making it if he would take someone out of it like Wayne who could do so much good if given time, and leave someone like me, instead?
I was fifteen when he gave me Goofy for my birthday. Goofy was a stray cat, meaner than piss. He knew we would like each other. (We did and I kept her, then one of her kittens until last year when he died of old age.) We had a date scheduled. Wayne was now sixteen, and had gotten his license. We were supposed to go on our one year anniversary date for Valentine's Day. He had gotten tests back that said he was in remission.
I woke the week of Valentine's Day at 1:15 in the morning. I stared at the clock. I remember I could have sworn I heard Wayne say my name. I went to school and wrote my friend Trish a note and told her all about it. She still has the note. She wrote back that I should call him and make sure he was ok.
I came home and was going to call Wayne and tell him. I asked my Dad to use the phone to call him. It was long distance and remember, fifteen. He said no and that my mother would talk to me about it when she got home.
Like a typical kid though, I didn't let it go. I pestered and wheedled until he said, "He died, ok! He died so you can't call him. It happened last night."
I looked at him and I remember I felt nothing. I remember I told him that he was going to get in trouble for lying to me.
I called my mom at work. She said, yes, he was gone.
I still did not believe it.
I called Debs and she said that the tests were wrong, switched or something. He was worse. Basically, the cancer had taken him over. He had come home to die. No one had told me. No one. He had sat in a chair and fallen asleep and just stopped breathing. Peacefully.
When she said one-fifteen finally, I don't know why, I believed her.
I still did not cry.
Through all the funeral preparations, of which Wayne and Debs made me a part of, through the beginning of the calling hours in which I, like a raving bitch ordered they take the lipstick off him as it was wrong, I did not cry.
Until my mom showed up. She asked me if I had touched him. I rolled my eyes at her. I was, after all, a teen. "No."
She took me back to his coffin. I looked at him again. His hair, if memory serves, was dandelion fluff. Not grown in. Not full bald. His freckles were even on his head. His face was well remembered and he looked asleep. His eyes did not laugh up at me and he did not smell like medicine. That, at least, was good. I touched his face. I adjusted his jacket. I talked to him.
I don't remember what I said. Something stupid, I am sure. "Hi, me again."
Automatically, I reached, since I was touching him now and talking to him, to twine my fingers with his.
And for the first time since we had met those fingers did not catch mine. He had always closed his fingers around mine. He had always held me back. Wayne was the one unconditional in my life. My mom was not. No one else unconditionally just caught me, no matter if they should have been mad or not and just held on. Wayne's fingers always wrapped around mine. My fingers tightened in his and reality crashed. I was alone. He was gone. They had really all lied. There was no hope, he was gone forever and I was really alone.
And holding his hand desperately I broke on the inside. I cried, finally. I am not entirely sure I ever entirely fixed that broken piece to this day.
And I learned that doctors don't always
a:know for sure what they are talking about. Sometimes they guess based on the information and they are just plain wrong.
b:tell the truth. Sometimes, when talking to the dying, the young, the love of the young, or the weak, they lie, sugar coat or otherwise give you false hope. AKA LIE.
c.read the information correctly. He was never in remission. There really was a test that came back and said he was. The test was someone else's and it got swapped. Based on that I was able to delude myself further into denial.
Based on all of the above experiences, I do not terribly trust diagnosis.
Further, I have never been able to convince myself entirely that I was not meant, as obviously the greater evil, to expire in his stead. God knows, literally, I offered.
So when I was bleeding profusely and realized I was going to have to hop my happy butt into the hospital or risk bleeding out from the... ahem, nether region, and that I was going to have to do it alone and that it was likely going to require an exam... which I detest as it is humiliating...
I chain smoked and was shaking. Blood loss I can ignore. A looming building thick with nurses and doctors... I was trembling like a leaf in a hurricane.
I went in and advised them as to my condition. They proceeded to poke, prod, test and retest me. The diagnosis?
More tests. 'Something' is very wrong. You are bleeding. There are many clots on your ultrasound. You are not able to work. You cannot work tomorrow. Here are some meds for pain.'
Me-"I'm not in pain. I don't need pain meds. Why am I bleeding like a stuck pig? Why can't I go back to work? Look, can you just make the note cover that I was here so I can go back and so that today is not a complete wash?"
My thoughts- If you people took my blood, looked in my body, used an ultrasound, made me drink a gallon of water, did another ultrasound, and you still are not coming back with anything better than 'something is wrong' I am going to work. And apparently you are all deaf. I am not in pain. I am just bleeding. A lot.
"Let me get the doctor."
So she hustles out and comes back with the doctor. He looks at me. I am fully clothed now, cell in hand, name tag for work back on. I am ready to leave.
"You have clotting and blood loss. You need to go home and relax today and tomorrow at least. I am not releasing you for work. You are not able to work."
I glare at him.
"I sit. At work, I sit."
He cheerfully glares back, "Go home. Relax. Go to a gynecologist. Find out what is causing the bleeding. It may be stress or it may be hormonal, but you may need it taken care of. After the rest and follow up, you can go back to work. I released you to work Friday."
I glare more.
He does not release me.
I cannot work. I am not released. I cannot not (double negative makes a positive, so yes I have to) turn the paper in. If I don't, then it looks like I just bailed work mid-shift for no reason.
I stomp out of the hospital and am hit by dizziness. I glare at the cement and grit my teeth. I light a cigarette. This raises blood ox levels. I figure this will counteract the blood loss. This, my friends, is called Virg-logic.
I call work and cannot get my boss. I bicker with one of my best friends who has my best health interests at heart, dammit.
I am so not happy. I foresee more tests. I loathe tests. Then they are going to make more guesses. Then I will not like the results and they will call for nasty things. Surgery. Medicine.
Things that I have absolutely no faith will fix anything.
I have faith in God. I have faith in many things. Sadly, a long time ago, I lost my faith in medicine when I realized they don't know everything. And they lie.