Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Being "Not in Pain..."

You remember, dear reader, when I mentioned briefly the fact that I was to be "scanned" on Saturday to "see what was going on in there," right? There was a possibility of diverticulitis or some such other disturbing intestinal issue...

Well... That was the understatement of the century!

It started Saturday morning--a very unassuming, kind of pretty morning, where a few birds decided to sing and we had an easy time finding the hospital where the CT scan was supposed to take place. I drank the tepid, stale-milkshake tasting crap ("tasty barium solution") beginning at 7:45 am, 8:40 am, and then at 9:10 am. Blech! They place me on a table, run me back and forth through a metal donut a few times all the while piping something into my veins through my left knuckle. (Due to many hospitalizations in my life, most of my elbow veins are quite... collapsed?... leaving the rest of my arms open for needle infestation wherever they can get blood to appear...) Fifteen minutes later they tell me I can go, so Rich and I head to the coal place to buy some bags of coal to heat our home. 45 minutes later, as I am lugging 30 lb bags of chestnut coal into the house and Rich lays down for a nap (having only had four hours of sleep due to double shifts and not knowing what this appointment involved), my cell phone begins ringing. I don't recognize the number, so I don't answer--half the time my cell doesn't connect at home anyway, so I figure I'll check my voice mail after eating a nice big lunch--the first lunch in over two weeks in which I'm allowed to start "reintroducing carbs" into my diet. I'm imagining a nice grilled cheese sandwich with a few fries dipped in honey mustard... Heaven on a plate, I tell you...

But my phone keeps ringing. And ringing. And ringing. They never leave voice mails, it's like three different numbers, over and over again. I grab Rich's cell as he half dozes on the couch and dial one of the numbers:

ME: Hi, uh... Someone keeps calling me from this number? My name is Jason Hughes? (I don't know why I say this as a question, but there it is, hanging there the same way bricks don't...)
Woman: Yes, thank you for calling, I'm connecting you to Dr Carlson now.
Me: Wait, I-- (I've been put on hold... Why is hot intern Doc calling me?)
Doctor: Jason? Thank god, how are you feeling?
Me: Uh, fine... How are you?
Doctor: You--you feel fine?
Me: Yeeeeessssss....
Doctor: No pain?
Me: Nnnnnooooooo....
Doctor: You need to get back to the hospital right away!
Me: Um, okay, but why?
Doctor: You really have no pain?
Me: No, in fact I was about to eat lunch--
Doctor: Don't EAT!!!!
Me: Uh--okay. (I drop the sandwich as if a snake has just appeared between the leaves of lettuce... Rich stares at me curiously...)
Doctor: Your gall bladder is on the verge of exploding!
Me: Um--come again?
Doctor: Radiology called me, and that never happens. You must return to the hospital ASAP before it ruptures!
Me: My gall bladder is going to explode? (Rich sits up wide-eyed, his mouth forming a "whaaa....?")
Doctor: Yes, go straight to the ER immediately. Your--your really not in any pain at all?
Me: No, I feel fine. Great, actually.
Doctor: Amazing. Get to the ER.
I spend the next half hour calming Rich down and we set out once again for the half-hour-away hospital. I feel no sense of urgency, mind you--have I mentioned how great I feel?--but Rich is beside himself, apologizing for every pot hole hit, for every Sunday driver in front of us on this Saturday, for every song he likes that I disdain that pops up on the radio...

We get to the ER where Rich's dad is anxiously awaiting to see me doubled over in pain and agony--after all, Rich's quick message to their answering machine left little to their imagination--"I have to run Jay to the ER--his gall bladder is exploding!!"--and is amazed as I walk in and greet him with a hug. I walk over to the receptionist in the ER.

Me: Hi, yes, I'm here because I'm suffering from Choleocetesis? (again, the question hangs there... She eye balls me...)
Receptionist: Are you sure?
Me: According to the latest and greatest in technology, yes.
Receptionist: Well, fill out this form, we'll be right with you.
I can hear the unspoken "Hypochondriac!" added to the end of that sentence. I fill out the forms, chatting amiably with an amazed father-in-law and a beside-himself husband. They finally call my name and am ushered behind a curtain and handed a gown--you know the kind, one-size fits none, the world can see your ass gown. I change and sit crossed-legged on the bed and amuse myself with games on my cell phone. The curtain gets ripped to the side and a doctor and nurse approach with what is to become a very routine Q&A session:

Doctor: Tell me your name, birth date, and what you are here for.
Me: Jason Hughes, January 1976, Choleocetesis. (He looks up in alarm.)
Doctor: Gall Bladder attack? Show me where the pain is.
Me: I don't have any.
Doctor: You don't--no pain?
Me: No.
Doctor: Lay back. (He pressed various parts of my abdomen, looking for any sign of pain or discomfort...) Here? How about here? Here?
Me: Nope. No. Uh-uh.
Doctor: Who told you you were having a gall bladder attack?
Me: (I relate the events of the past two weeks.)
Doctor: And you have no pain.
Me: Nope. (I'm quite bored with the amazement of this by now, but nonetheless continue to answer this question repeatedly. Of course, now he's looking at me like I've just arrived from Carckhouse #4 looking for my next pain-killer fix...)
Doctor: Well, I'll go take a look at the results of your test. We'll be back in a few minutes.
Yes, a few minutes. Hospital speak for an hour or two. I continue my game of Jewel Quest until they reappear ten boards later...

Doctor: Wow... This is bad. Very bad. Uh, still no pain?
Me: No. (I half-sigh this.)
Doctor: Uh-huh. Well, we'll be admitting you shortly. In the meantime, you should call someone--
Me: My partner is in the ER waiting room.
Doctor: Nurse, bring him back so we can fill him in and get this patient admitted STAT. (I'm a bit amazed at the use of "STAT." I thought that was a television ER thing only!) We'll also be ordering an ultrasound to get a better picture of just how imminent this gall bladder explosion is, okay? See you soon.
I'm shown to a new curtain, ordered to fill a plastic cup with urine ("Mid-stream, now, not at the end or beginning or urination, mid-stream!"), and wait patiently with Rich until another doctor shows up. In the meantime, my parents stop in for a visit, Rich wanders back and forth between complete worry and emotional breakdown. All the while I chat with nurses coming and going, filling vials of blood from various parts of my arms (yet never the elbows), inserting an IV, and listening to the older-than-Jesus woman in the next bed complaining about her leg pain. (In fact, she gets quite loud when I'm wheeled out for an ultrasound before she is...). After all that, another doctor comes in.

Doctor: Name, birth date, complaint?
Me: Blah, blah, blah...
Doctor: And what have they given you for pain? (peering at my chart...)
Me: Nothing. I'm not--
Doctor: Nothing for the pain? Nurse!
Me: I'm not in any pain!
Doctor: What?
Me: (Sigh.) I'm not in any pain.
Doctor: Do you have a football game or something coming up?
Me: Do you need glasses?
Doctor: Excuse me?
Me: I'm thirty-three--who am I playing football for?
Doctor: Well, men like to play down pain so as not to interfere with various activities they have going on...
Me: (Apparently I need to sound more convincing...) I'm NOT IN PAIN. Honestly.
Doctor: I'm going to go take a look at the results of your test. (He is also now giving me the "Hypochondriac Crack-whore" look...)
I sigh again as Rich looks worriedly into my eyes. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asks. At this point, I'm so worried he's going to drop over of a stress-related heart attack, I send him off to find food and liquid for himself (yet telling him it's for me...) When the doctor returns, there is more of the "This is bad" and "This needs to come out now" talk and I'm sent up to Floor 5. I'm visited by two of the Fab Five with their spouses and children, in which my niece, poor sweet thing, says "I don't want you to die!" We console her and continue to josh and chat happily away--still not in pain. I'm beginning to imagine how my malpractice suit will take shape. Rich's parents also stop in for a brief visit and then it's off to surgery where there is much more amazement about my painless existence on this planet, more rechecking of my "tests," and still more urgency about getting my gall bladder out. From what I can gather, I have a gall bladder on the verge of exploding with one huge stone blocking all entry/exit from said bladder, and many little gall stone buddies hanging out behind him, all waiting their turns to wreak pain on my body. The large stone is apparently my saving grace from pain as it keeps all the other stones built up behind him from doing anything. Yet, at the same time, since the "bile" can also not leave, it's trying to create new exits (hence, the imminent explosion...), and I seem to be up a creek...

At midnight I am wheeled into the OR. Painless.

At 3:00 am Sunday morning, I awake. In pain.

Go figure.

As I drift back and forth between sleep and wakefulness, various nurses come and go, asking me questions, drawing more blood, hanging more IV bags, my poor husband trying to sleep but be there beside me whenever I wake up, however briefly. I get more visits from friends and family, a bunch of phone calls, and a nephew who makes me promise not to die for another 800 years (I promise him only fifty...) and am discharged at the end of the day on Sunday... Less than 24 hours after being sliced like a deli ham...

I've been recuperating at my mother's house (with Rich stopping in every day between work shifts) as she reintroduces me to all that I've been missing on television the last nine months, playing Nurse Good Body (as she so names herself--"I'm Nurse Good Body without the Good Body!") and slowly healing. My stomach is strangely misshapen, of course. There are five new holes just above the scar left behind when the appendix was removed in 1991, and I realize I won't be winning any "Navel of the Year" awards... ever. Suffice to say, however, that with the removal of my gall bladder, according to two doctors now, all of the heartburn and stomach pain I've been experiencing and chalking up to "getting older" have all been the result of my failing gall bladder. I've most likely been suffering this for years and the many empty bottles of tums, Pepto, Pepsid, Milk of Magnesia, all of it--should now be history.

I think that's the most amazing thing about this. I can eat red meat again without fear. Orange juice can be a part of my mornings again. Onions need not be shunned. Chili peppers are my friends again. Granted, without my gall bladder, I'm told there will be some things my body won't be able to process, but since every one's body is different, I just have to see what happens after eating certain things and then decide if it's worth it. (Apparently, some people find they can no longer eat anything greasy while others can now eat things they never could before! Go figure!) But this should end approximately five years of a diminishing array of foods and reopen my life to those things everyone else could eat without issue...

Finally painless in all areas of my diet.

Life should be good once again!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"You mean, you put down your rock and I put down my sword and we try to kill each other like civilized people? "

It starts with an auction. An auction for a god-awful, ugly-ass statue of a Pegasus and her colt getting ready to take flight. Actually, if you're into that kind of stuff, it was quite lovely--but I wasn't feeling it.

It went on eBay. Gladly.

It sold. On eBay. For $1.81. Not that I planned on retiring on this sale--don't get me wrong. The whole point is to get rid of things! And it's $1.81 more than I had before!

But then pain happened and hence, I didn't check my email for two days. This stuff happens, you know? Well, at least to me they do. Perhaps you have a better, healthier life. Who's to say?

Regardless, once I've regained my health (If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything...), I'm going through my emails, getting ready to ship those items that have sold, and I received this message about the Pegasus statue:

I did not bid on this item. I think that my aunt did and she is not here. Please don't give me a bad rating for not buying this item. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Please respond. Thank you.
Uh-huh. Okay, whatever. You are a moron--I get that. I delay response and continue going through the emails when I see this one from the very same person in regards to the very same statue:

Can you please leve me feedback and when I get the item I will be sure to do the same for you. Thank you.
Um... Ooooookaaaaaaayyy...

So I ship the item. Never mind that this person has multiple personalities all vying to spend her $1.81 (plus $7.00 S&H, insurance optional but recommended...). True to the schizophrenics wishes, I did not add insurance, packed it tightly in a thick cardboard box surrounded by newspapers and plastic bags as tightly as possible to keep the thing as safe as possible--granted, I think the thing is uglier than Bug-Blathered Beast of Trall, that doesn't mean I am an unconscientiousness shipper, ya know?

But things happen. Specifically, postal workers go postal on their packages and sometimes things arrive broken--this, my friends, is life. It's happened to me, it's happened to Rich, it's happened to everyone. That's why insurance is offered, ya know?

So I get another email from the schizo:

I have just got the item and it is broke in many pieces. I want to see if you will send me a new one. Or give me my money back. I can send it back to you if you would like. Please respond.
Issue #1: It says at the end of my auctions, No refunds or exchanges are offered! I think that's pretty clear.

Issue #2: EBay is also quite clear in the terms of service in regards to damaged items in transit: BUY INSURANCE!

So I compose what I feel is a quite reasonable response:

I'm sorry to hear that your item was damaged in transit. As this was a one-of-a-kind item, we do not have any other Pegasus statues on hand and thus, cannot offer a replacement.

Unfortunately, insurance was offered when you paid for this item and you chose not to purchase the insurance for $1.00, as stated both in the item listing and on your shipping invoice. Therefore, we can also not issue a refund. You are more than welcome to take this up with either eBay or with the Postal Service which delivered your item as the item was packed with due care and shipped accordingly. Although we cannot foresee all things that may occur while an item is in transit, we do offer you the opportunity to purchase insurance, thus guaranteeing you the opportunity to reclaim your money should something unfortunate occur.

Again, our condolences on the damage to the item, but there is nothing further we can do to rectify the situation.
What I wanted to say is "Tough shit!", but being the generally nice guy that I am, I try to say it gently and with compassion.

And I get this:

When you packed this you used plastic bags from the store. You did not pack this to where it would not break. Not only that it looks like it was broken before! If you do not return my money I will file a complaint with E-Bay!
Tell me, dear reader: How does a broken item "look like it was broken before"? Apparently she is psychic AND schizophrenic! A real seller's dream! Just my luck!

I respond again:

When we packed this item, we did indeed fill it with plastic bags to cushion the item as it traveled--we packed the box full to ensure that the item could be as safe as we could possibly make it. I resent that you imply I sold you an item that was broken previously--I have never misrepresented any item I have sold, nor have I ever had an item break in transit before. As stated before, we took all due care with packing this item as we do any item before shipping. We offer insurance to be purchased just in case any circumstance such as this were to happen.

You are more than welcome to file a complaint with eBay as I know we didn't do anything untoward, nor did we misrepresent anything about this item. While I do feel sorry that the item arrived broken as I wouldn't ship out anything I didn't think was safe enough to travel (after all, why would I want the grief??), these things do happen.

As I said, please feel free to take this up with eBay or the Postal Service, and hope that you do remember in the future to purchase insurance on items so that this unfortunate circumstance is never repeated.

I will await a letter from eBay in response to your complaint.
That's that! I think triumphantly, hitting "send." After all, I know I'm well within my bounds as a seller--I have a 100% rating of 137, have always managed to satisfy my customers. I take great pride in this.

And what do I get?

I would like to send you photos of what I recieved. Can I get and e-mail address to send them to Please
I love how "Please" is an after-thought. Someone is singing a different tune! Ha! Someone has actually started talking to eBay and learned the sad truth. I respond:

All correspondence will be maintained through eBay's mailing service, for my own protection as well as yours. I have been in contact with eBay and waiting to hear from them with regards to how to handle this situation.
I didn't hear anything back. Finally! I think, and begin doing what I actually get PAID to do--work during business hours!

But the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking about just refunding her damn money. After all, $1.81 never broke the bank, did it? Obviously this is a person who isn't playing with a full deck of cards--they don't want it, they do want it, they don't want it, they do want it... Blah, blah, blah...

So I compose one last message:

Dear _____________,

We have decided to refund your purchase price for this item. Being that you are apparently new to eBay (with a feedback score of only 11), perhaps you didn't realize all that can happen with a transaction of this type. Perhaps purchasing insurance never crossed your mind as a necessity rather then a way to get another $1.70 out of you. Rest assured that within the next two business days, you will be refunded. However, please note that this is against my own personal policy, was well within my rights concerning eBay selling guidelines to refuse the refund, and am not responsible for how a carrier handles such items once they leave my possession. I can only hope you have learned the value of insurance on such items.
There, I thought. I'm still the Nice Guy. I hate myself for it on some level, but on another, I know that this deranged person will perhaps benefit and learn from their idiocy (and hopefully never bid on another item of mine again!!)

As of right now, the refund has been claimed with nary a thank you or an apology, or even an acknowledgment--Nada! While I realize that courtesy isn't foremost on most people's lists of things to keep in mind when dealing with others, you would think she would say something, even if it's only to gloat or something, ya know?

This is simply reason Number 842 of why I hate people...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So Much for "An Apple a Day..."

We're talking pain, people. Serious, gut-wrenching, horrible nasty pain... 3:30 in the morning there's-no-way-in-hell-I-can-sleep is-there-a-doctor-in-the-house PAIN.

Yes, at 3:30 am (Eastern Standard Time, of course), I suddenly sat up in bed and cried out. I gripped my stomach where the pain was located (Mistake Number One), which, of course, intensified said pain. I cried out louder. Hawthorne leaped onto the bed and Rich says in that half-asleep-adrenaline-induced-wide-awake voice, "Are you okay?"

I'm sure the words "Uh, no, duh!" raced through my mind on some subconscious level. But in what was to be a theme for the next three days of doing the wrong thing to try to get said pain to disappear, I uttered, "Get me some Tums..."

I do believe I chewed about 20. Which, if we have to keep count, was Mistake Number Two. I laid there, willing away the pain. Every two seconds, a "Baby, are you okay?" drifted across the painful universe of which I now inhabited. I would grunt occasionally, tried laying in various positions, all to no avail. At about 4:30 am, I went to the bathroom and grabbed the bottle of "Pepto Max" and proceeded to guzzle. ( Mistake Number Three...) I went out to the couch, thinking of giving myself a rest from the "Are you okay"s and him a chance to sleep before he went into work--neither goal of which was accomplished...

Even though I knew the doc wasn't yet in, at 7:00 I started calling the office every five minutes, just in case. I called work to say I wouldn't be there. I drank more Pepto Max. Chewed more Tums. Continued to grip and ungrip my stomach.

I got an appointment at 11:10 am. I left for the appointment to the doctor's office which was just 20 minutes away at 10:00 am, again, "just in case."

Along the way I continued sipping the Pepto, alternately hitting the passenger seat and steering wheel as the pain intensified. I groaned for 45 long minutes in the waiting room, and another 30 minutes in the little room.

And why--why o why o why--do doctors insist on asking how you are? Maybe it's just me, but it's not like I make emergency appointments just to catch up on my doctors latest round of golf, you know? But there it was and I grunted something which I hoped would convey the unnecessariness of small talk and the urgent need for medical care.

It took two more hours (prodding, poking, six X-rays, three vials of blood, and a chatty nurse) before TWO doctors came back in to my tiny world. The first thing to cross my mind was "Damn, who's the fox?" which was quickly followed by "Oh, shit--I'm dying!" (One: The fox was the new resident there to learn something new and exciting, apparently. Two: I wasn't dying...)

"You know how everyone keeps telling you you're full of it? They're right!" Ha, ha, very funny... PAIN!!!!!! FIX!!!!! NOW!!!!!! I smiled wearily (at least, I think I did...) Long and short? "Take a suppository--you'll feel much better in five to six hours."

Uh-huh. I run to the grocery store, buy laxatives, suppositories, three gallons of water, a case of Ginger Ale (with the punching of the passenger seat and steering wheel, of course) and run home to lay on my couch. I read the laxative bottle: "Take 1 pill every four hours until bowel movement is achieved."

I took three. (Still counting? Mistake Number Four.)

I read the suppository bottle: "Insert 1 into the rectum once a day until bowel movement is achieved." Done.

I sat and gripped my stomach. I turned on South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut until I found out laughter wasn't the best medicine in this case. Two hours later when I still hadn't "made a movement," I "inserted" another suppository. (Mistake Number Five.) Rich comes home, "How are you feeling?"


All through the night I grip my stomach, unable to sleep as putting any pressure on any portion of my stomach (front, back, left, right) causes pain. PAIN.

With my dark circles, tired husband, and now a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 pain, I make a call at 9:00 am Tuesday morning. "Help..." I feebly whisper to the receptionist. "Go to the emergency room" is the advice I am given.

So I go. Rich drives, so I satisfy my pain by hitting myself in the thighs, the dashboard, tearing at the seat belt.

I have to fill out paperwork. I commit to answers that "sound good" as Rich tries to fill them out for me. As I sit the almost three hours with CNN blasting me from one side and a child who's cries you could set a watch to hitting me on the other, I gripped my stomach. The child continued:


Just as I was about to commit murder, I hear my name called out and I race for the escape from the clock-work child. I am told to wear one of those "gowns"--you know, the kind feared by those with less-than-perfect bodies but work great in porno's involving doctors and nurses? After a few more hours of X-rays and blood vials drained from my body (during which time the Clockwork Kid has been placed in the bed next to mine...), I am no longer "full of it" but "full of gas." Between the antacids slowing my metabolism and the laxatives and suppositories taken over the recommended dose, I have succeeded in going from full of stuck solids to full of trapped gasses! Should I even bother repeating here what the doctor at the ER said? ("They put directions on labels for a reason...") No shit, Sherlock. Cease my pain and I'll be glad to follow some directions! But until then? No holds barred!

Then comes to really, really mean part: "Absolutely NO Apples." Something about pectin. I dunno, I just know that my love affair with America's favorite snack is now my bane. My nemesis. My enemy.

That was followed by "...and for the next ten days, no carbs, no bananas (only TOO easy to give up--not that I've had one in 30+ years...), no potatoes, no rice, no bread, no pizza, no cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies, APPLES... Only vegetables, vegetables, vegetables for the next TEN DAYS..." (Shoot me now, shoot me now...) "...and be sure to add the 5 P's: Plums, Pears, Peaches, Prunes, and Pineapples to your diet."


"Chicken or pork, nothing red."

(Shoot me now, shoot me now...) "For how long?"

"After ten days, you may begin to reintroduce--slowly--potatoes and rice."

"And steak?"

"Not for at least three months."

"And apples?"

"Not for at least three months."

"You're killing me doc."

"Most people say that after I say 'no steak.'"

"You've never had my mother's Jewish Apple Cake..." (Sigh...)

"You're Jewish?"


"Oh... No. Apples."

I now wonder what she would have said had I said "yes" to being Jewish...

The pain is slowly dissipating... through plentiful "emissions" both from above and below... And I may have diverticulitis! (For once, something bad inherited from my father, not my mother...) Hooray! A full CT scan is scheduled for next Saturday... A machine will virtually rape me from throat to butt to "get a sense" of "what's going on in there." They may even take more blood--who's to know?

So much for an apple a day...

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Un-Fortune-ate Cookie...

After you've worked and almost 55 hour work week, you look forward to Friday night dinner almost reverently. You arrive at the buffet, greet your friends and family, and begin to chow down on lo-mien, General Tsao's, egg rolls, crab legs--you know, you stuff yourself silly with Americanized foreign foods. You're having a great time, laughing and talking. The bill arrives with a cookie for everyone, and per custom, we throw them into the air, and wherever the pointed ends face, that's the person who gets that fortune (within reasonable proximity, of course...)

We open them one by one and read off the little vague prophecies: "Careful what you wish for," "Happiness can only be found from within, "Unicorns dance in your shadows"--cheesy stuff like that.

... and then I open mine...

To get what you truly desire, you must work harder.

"Excuse me?!" I've just busted my ass all week meeting silly deadlines on green things for really awful people who feel they are important and I must work harder?!?!?! If I were a bit more superstitious--or religious, for that matter--I might think that the cosmos is having a great belly laugh at my expense (not that my friends didn't get a good one from this...), but what the hell? They could have at least flowered that shit up a bit--you know, something like "Hard work brings great contentment" or "To live for work is working to live." Hell, I probably would have even been okay with "Work sucks, get used to it." Okay, maybe not so much on that last one either...

You have to wonder how bad the economy is when even fortune cookies are filled with doom and gloom...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This Was Way Too Funny...

Thanks to lol god. Click on the pic to enlarge.

Um, if you don't have a Facebook account, you probably won't get the full effect, but... whatever...