Pain, whether it be emotional or physical, always teaches me about perspectives. Shades of Pain.
Monday I worked with probably the worst class of middle schoolers in my dozen years of teaching. I felt bullied. I bowed out of a job for the next day in an effort to save my sanity.
Tuesday I was relieved to go to one of my favorite elementary school. This Eugene school, right down the road from my house, has a great staff, and I was relieved to be working with first graders. Big step from sixth. And then I saw the list of students with behavioral programs. Small class, high percentage. And then I met the kids. They weren’t snarky with me that much, but they were horrible to each other. Charlie and Deja just barked and growled and hissed at each other, and it didn’t matter where the kids sat as the message of the tongue out can be sent from all over the room. Behind one another, with a lot of space between might be, but I wouldn’t be able to control the quick head swivel.
By lunch, I was feeling stress, so much that I thought I had an ulcer springing to life. Pain started increasing. I told a few of the teachers that I had an ulcer. I had to run out of the room a few times, handing over the lesson plan to Charlie just because he was the closest, so I could prevent from throwing up in front of the kids or on them.
Waves of pain continued and I begged the school to let me go. I was only a few blocks away from my doctor. I could make it to there. I did, but the Brookside clinic said that I had to go to Urgent Care or the hospital. Since I was right next door to Oregon Medical Group, and I had Sylvia Emory for a doctor for at least twenty years. I came in clutching my side, practically panting. Nope. I was told they didn’t do walk-ins. Really, I could have been having an acute condition and the receptionist suggested I get back into my car and drive some more.
If I only had the Oregon Medical Insurance, I wouldn’t have been able to drive to the nearest location; I would have had to find one I’ve never seen before.
While in traffic on Willamette, I prayed that I could make it and that I didn’t lose my lunch in the MIni Cooper. I couldn’t imagine sticking my head out the window and being able to miss the car.
I’m the kind of person that doesn’t admit to pain or let it slow me down, but this pain had me on my knees. The pain that I experienced twenty-eight years ago that required emergency surgery that would remove my right kidney was bad, but I don’t think as bad as this. Hot knife cutting into my back versus someone trying to rip my gut out.
I managed a very small drop for my urine sample, and that sample didn’t look so great. It’s not a good sign when I suddenly get a lot of attention all at once. Which hospital did I want? Could they convince me to take an ambulance? A person with one kidney doesn’t like to hear the words renal failure. Even with three sisters vowing to give me one of theirs, this is not something on my bucket list.
I hadn’t been in an ambulance since I was twelve when I rode my bike in front of a car. My sister Pam was the only one I would could, though its not like I could avoid my dad just by not inviting him to the hospital. Pam would have preferred I had called my dad just because she hates hospitals.
At least this trip in the ambulance didn’t require lights and sirens, though speeding around on all of those pain meds they gave me, and still be conscious, might have been fun, at least the speeding part. I chatted with Mike, an EMT all the way to McKenzie-Willamette. I was no longer in pain.
Soon I got the VIP treatment. IV and warm blankets. Lots of time to sit and do nothing. My phone had died, so I hadn’t been able to contact my wife. And then it occurred to me that I could use my watch, but the only number I knew was her old work number. Knowing the woman who took over Sylvia’s job and hence phone number, perhaps could help me. Murphy’s Law wasn’t helping me as she was away from her desk. When it doubt hit zero and hope that I’ll be directed to a live person. Barbara, God Bless her soul, dug up Sylvia’s new number and transferred me. Murphy showed up again.
After a little while of being stark-crazy bored. Nothing to do while waiting. I tried Sylvia’s number again. Murphy had finally taken a break. I’m on my way.
My boredom was interrupted long enough to have a CT-Scan, but that didn’t take long. I was trying to listen in on conversations outside my curtain. Must have been over twenty voices all speaking over each other or to each other. Mix in the beeps and the rings and other sounds that you’ll never hear if you’ve never been in a hospital. How many people had cuffs that constantly puffed up and then released? I heard one guy say, “Only one kidney. It was how big? Thanks.” How many people in a small emergency room could have just one kidney? How big got me thinking about the cyst my urologist has been monitoring on my poor widowed kidney, telling me that this is normal, though they could never untell me that they thought the cancer from 1998 was thought to be “just a cyst.” I watched under the curtain, expecting to see those paper covered shoes.
To keep from boring you, I’ll cut to the chase. The pain was the result of my having a kidney stone and my giving birth to it. The CT scan showed a four mm. stone in my bladder. They gave me my discharge papers and some filters that I was to use to try to catch the stone.
Today I was back with the first graders and they were crazy, but when I asked myself would I rather be in this kind of mental anguish kind of pain or thrashing around while holding a vomit bag, I was more than content to be in the classroom, but I’ll admit that the relief of them walking to parents open arms or up the steps to a school bus, I felt a major relief.