Monday started out as a delightful day. Then I came back from lunch and my stomach started to clench up. By the time I got home from a dinner that featured me turning greener and greener, I knew something horrible was going to happen. And it did, at about 10pm that night. Non-stop barfing until 2am, at which time I was just too tired to throw up anymore. I laid on the bed groaning as my stomach continued to cramp in pain and bile threatened to appear. It was horrible. (I must confess, however, that I did watch a lot of TV. The SAG wrap up on FASHION POLICE and two episodes of each of FRIENDS and SEINFELD.)
Jeanne thought it was the 5 clementines I ate (they are so cute and tasty, you can’t eat just one!) but I knew little citrus sweeties couldn’t do to me what was happening to my insides.
Once 6am rolled around (really it didn’t “roll around.” I was looking at the clock to time the pain like it was a labor contraction. Every two minutes, between 2 and 6AM). I needed help, and fast. The doorman saw me stagger out and asked what was wrong.
“I’m going to the ER,” I croaked.
He just nodded pleasantly and held the door open. God forbid he should help me FLAG A CAB, for god’s sake.
Believe it or not, there was NO line at the ER of New York Presbyterian Hospital, now known to me as THE GREATEST HOSPITAL IN NY.
I told the Intake Nurse I might throw up. She handed me a pink bucket and continued her line of questioning. Then she threw me onto a stretcher next to the Nurse’s Station. Another nurse took my blood pressure (with the arm that wasn’t clutching the bucket, that is) and popped an IV into my veins. Then she asked me if I wanted anti-nausea meds. “YES” I gasped. “Yes, please, for the love of God!”
That’s the last thing I remember until I saw this face over my stretcher, aka Heaven:
Dr. Stern asked me what happened, and I told him I suspected food poisoning. “My mother thinks it’s from the clementines I ate.”
“Really?” he said, stifling his laughter. “Let’s see what the blood tests say. I’m also going to give you morphine to help your stomach relax.”
Morphine? I immediately perked up, partially in fear, partially in excitement. I’d never had morphine!
They started the drip and it was, of course, at that moment that the insurance coordinator came over to check my Blue Cross Card and ask if I wanted to handle the co-pay now or later. Then he held up a clipboard with about 8 different forms to sign. By the end of it, I think what he got out of me resembled an X more than an actual signature. What did I care? I was in a morphine dreamland, which had me snoozing while people were coming in with strokes and heart attacks.
When the tests came back I was diagnosed with viral gastroenteritis, aka the stomach flu. Since then I have been on a steady diet of bananas and chicken soup, with the occasional ginger ale when I’m feeling wild. It wasn’t the clementines after all! One of Dr. Jeanne’s rare medical missteps. All I can say is, many, many thanks to the ER staff at NY Presbyterian. It’s my new go-to place whenever I’m in need of some good ER attention!