Toney’s been in the hospital. On Sunday she left work because she felt horrible: nausea and a tightness in the chest. Then she started throwing up. I thought she was having a heart attack, and took her to the ER. By the time we arrived there, her stomach was hurting really bad and she was actually groaning. What in the hand-rolled shit is going on?! I was hitting at about an 8 on the Freak the Fuck Out meter.
They ran a bunch of tests on her, and quickly decided (well… the hospital version of quickly, which is pretty damn slow) that her gallbladder was the source of the trouble. And that caused her pancreas to become inflamed, which is why her stomach was hurting. When the doctor eventually came strolling in, seemingly without a care in the world, he announced that Toney would be staying with them for a few days.
And she was there until yesterday afternoon. They were pumping her full of saline solution and antibiotics, and she feels a lot better. They say the gallbladder will need to come out, but there’s no super-urgency. Probably within a month, somebody told her.
I’m glad she’s home. The whole universe felt off-kilter without her around. I could be gone for six months and nobody would notice. “Hey, what happened to that fat guy with all the sarcastic remarks?” somebody might say around Week Four. But take Toney out of the picture for a few days and the whole operation collapses.
I have a few random hospital notes for you guys today, and then I’m going to return to work. I haven’t been there since Friday, so I’m going to be doing the backstroke through a frothy sea of bullshit in a few hours. Let’s get to it, shall we?
— Shortly after we arrived at the ER, they took Toney through a door marked EXAMINATION ROOM, and I heard nothing for a long time. I was pacing around, nervous. Also, I thought I might avoid contracting whatever horrible disease some slumped and hacking woman was suffering near the check-in desk. I was trying to give the spores a moving target.
Finally, the exam door swung open and a middle school girl shouted, “Jeffrey?” I went rushing over, and she took me into the room and closed the door. Oh god… is it bad news?? “OK, step up on the scales for me,” she said. Huh? I was very confused. Do they weigh patient spouses now? “Jeffrey Zelinski?” she said. “Oh, sorry,” I told her, and left. And the legitimate Jeff gave me a dirty look as he made his way toward the room. Jeffs can be so judgmental.
It was like the beginning of some bad movie where, due to a series of wacky misunderstandings, I end up on a gurney being rushed to an operating room. “No!” I’m shouting, before they silence me by strapping an oxygen mask to my face. Next thing I know I wake up with a fully-functioning vagina, or somesuch. To tell you the truth, I haven’t really thought this thing through…
— The nurses knew almost immediately what was going on with Toney, and let us know their thoughts. I appreciated it, ‘cause the doctors are stingy with the information. In fact, the guy never told us a thing until the next day. Even though they started treating her for something, he wouldn’t tell us what or why. I know there are liability concerns, etc. But it’s extremely frustrating. The nurses were great, though.
— One woman came in and started going on and on about how they’re the lowest paid people on the staff, and everybody else thinks they’re “high and mighty,” and looks down on them. “Especially the nurses,” she said. I’m not clear on who this person was, or what function she was performing. She might’ve just wandered in off the street, for all I know. But she had the bitterness of champions.
— While we were waiting around for what felt like hours – mostly because it was hours – in the ER exam room, we could plainly hear what was going on with other patients. I heard a nurse ask a woman when she last had a bowel movement. “This morning,” she answered. “Did it look normal?” the nurse wanted to know. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping for an interesting answer. Like “Well, I happen to have a photo of it on my phone!” But she just said yeah. It was anticlimactic, and also not the kind of information I needed to have.
— I also heard an old lady, with a terrifying death rattle, tell four or five people that she’s getting married on May 4, and going to Florida on her honeymoon. This woman was roughly 125 years old. I was expecting the nurse to say, “Well… your charts say differently, dear. You’ll be lucky to make it to sundown.” But she just shouted, “How wonderful!” Wotta rip-off.
— There was a unisex bathroom near Toney’s room that I used a couple of times to offload Eight O’Clock Bean Coffee. And inside that phone booth-sized room was the most complicated toilet I’ve ever seen in my life. I wish I’d snapped a picture. The thing had hand rails, bicycle grips, an assortment of baffling seat attachments, a ridiculous elevation, etc. I’m unclear why somebody would need to strap themselves into an elaborate shitting-cage, but apparently they do. For a second I got confused and thought I was boarding Space Mountain. Thankfully I was just standing. I really didn’t want to get too close to that apparatus.
— While I was visiting Toney Monday afternoon I heard a mournful male voice coming from down the hall: “Nuuuuuurse… nuuuuuuuuurse…” “Is that a ghost?” I asked with alarm. “Is it somebody who died here in 1979?!” This kept going on and on, and nobody was reacting. Eventually he started shouting, “I need a toilet!” Just hollering down the hall. Then I heard a woman scolding him, telling him to use the call button. She wasn’t very happy with his makeshift paging system. If it had gone on a few more minutes we probably would’ve heard, “Wipe! I need wiped!!”
— Since Toney’s pancreas was inflamed, everybody on the staff asked her about drinking. Toney drinks very little, believe me. She’s one of those freaks of nature who can have one beer, and that’s good enough for her. What the hell, man? Once that switch is flipped with me, I have to keep on going until I reach oblivion. In any case, she was getting repeatedly grilled about her relationship with alcohol. And one Asian nurse, who didn’t speak perfect English, asked, “So, do you drink beer all the time?” That’s how she put it. “I think you’re looking at one of my old charts,” I wish I’d said. Unfortunately for Toney, she can no longer have her three drinks per week for a while. It’s sad.
But she’s home now, and they’re going to schedule the gallbladder surgery soon. I’ll be freaking out about that, as well. I hate all things medical, and imagine the worst at all times. But my mother had the same thing done a few months ago, and it was close to being an outpatient procedure. Three small incisions, I think. I’m sure it’ll be fine. I hope.
And I need to go now. I don’t really have a Question for you guys, so please make of it what you will. I have a car dealer story to tell, as well. I’ll bring you up to date on that situation next time.
Have a great day, my friends!
Now playing in the bunker
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Hopefully Toney is feeling much better. Tell her we wish her all the best on a speedy recovery.
Hope all continues to go well for her and all y’all. Best to get that pesky gallbladder out and get on with life.
Feel better Toney!
Wow man. That absolutely sucks. I’m so glad it wasn’t her heart. I’ll be sending some powerful Viking mojo her way…you know…to make her all powerful and fierce for the gallbladder surgery.
Surgery sucks but she’ll feel better. Plus she’ll have a cool scar she can cover up with a smoking fish tattoo.
Phil Jett says
Had my gall bladder out, no scars, just 3 small bullet holes afterward.
I’m sorry you had to go through that, but those were some damn funny observations!
Yeah, I lol’ed at the examination room/Jeffrey/get on the scales paragraph. That picture was painted.
Alice in WV says
I have not been an ER since I was a kid I think. We never had insurance or a doctor. So it was the ER for anything and everything. A friend of mine went to the ER once as he thought he was having a heart attack. He told the woman at the desk what was going on and then told her he was going out to have a cigarette. She grabbed the cigarettes out of his hand and threw him a wheelchair. I have read that in big cities people can sometimes spend days sitting in the ER waiting for help.
I’m glad the nurses have been good to y’all. I always like to know I’ve done the best I can for my patients. Pancreatitis is no joke, good move taking her to the ER. I had my gallbladder out a few months ago, and it was one of the easiest surgeries I’ve had (and I’ve had enough to make an informed comparison). Eating after losing a gallbladder becomes more interesting, though. Each menu decision has to be made factoring in the proximity of the nearest bathroom. Hope Toney feels lots better!
Feel better, Toney!! And enjoy the surgery drugs! (Get some for Jeff.)
How scary! Happy to hear she’s on the mend!
Lee Harvey Ramone says
I understand that the gallbladder removal surgery is a relatively easy and routine laparoscopic procedure now. Back when my father had one of these in the late 1960s, I think they used to need to go in through an enormous hole that they would cut into your midsection (I remember him having a pretty long scar), and then they’d have to work around all of your organs just to get to the dang thing (apparently just piling them on top of your chest or somesuch) before getting to the actual task of removing the offending gallbladder. My dad actually suffered a heart attack during his recovery from that surgery, so I guess it used to be a pretty traumatic procedure back in the day. Now its a daggum out-patient procedure for some folks. Surgery has come a long way over the last few decades! Here’s hoping for a quick and uncomplicated recovery for Toney. I like that you are able to find so much comedy material even during such a rough week.
That happened to my grandfather. I recall he had a giant scar. As did Marilyn Monroe.
Joe T. says
Best wishes for Toni and you over the next couple weeks. “Hey, what happened to the fat guy with all the sarcastic remarks?” LOL
Sending all my best wishes, and Jeff, you had me laughing out loud when you thought the other patient was a ghost. You are the funniest writer, I’m sharing this with your Hollywood Fan club.
I hope Toney feels better very soon. When’s she’s healed, please come to NYC. Oh, I checked out that hotel on Long Beach Island. It’s got a Tiki Bar under construction and right on the beach. It was way better than the Engleside, which is across the street. Both are right on the beach.
“You’ll be lucky to make it to sundown”. That made me lose it right in my office!
Glad to know that Toney is on the mend and will be getting that nasty gallbladder out.
Get well soon, Toney.
Having spent the last year and half in and out of hospitals with my mother-in-law for a long laundry list of problems and surgeries, I am trying to block the image of the ER you created, even though it was funny as hell (as usual). Chin up, and get that pesky gall bladder gone!
Hope all goes well and things are disposed of quick as a bunny. My Princess had her gall bladder out long before she was my Princess; long before I met her. She’s had to put up with ME being in the hospital (like when I had two stents put in a coronary artery last year). I fear each year will bring more frequent ‘issues’. :/
Glad Toney is OK.
We get a ton of pancreatitis here, and when I ask “What’s going on with that guy?” and I’m told pancreatitis my next question is “Alcoholic?” They tend to (but don’t always, clearly) go hand in hand.
That ED sounds kind of tame for the most part. I think if I could get you a day to observe the ED in an urban trauma hospital you’d be on the short list for a Pulitzer. Here’s a photo that’s well within the realm of possibility:
The stuff I see and hear when I go into the ED where I work beggars my meager powers of description.
Jim Britton says
That’s a great picture!
Feel better, Mrs.Kay!
Laina Smith says
That looks like the UK ER. Took a student there once, and another patient was all but up in the ceiling.
Glad Toney is on the mend, gallbladder surgery is easy. I told a friend it was easier recup than childbirth.
You need to go here https://theawkwardstore.com/collections/plush-toys and buy her the sad gallbladder plushie. It would be the perfect get-well present! 🙂 Hope she’s feeling okay.
Glad this has a happy ending. When surgery comes…hope the outcome is equally so.
Wishing Toney a speedy recovery, medical stuff sucks.
Alice in WV says
Speedy recovery, Toney!
Stuart in Oz says
Glad o hear Toney is feeling better. Keep up the good work Jeff!!
Glad she is feeling better . Do you ever go to toys r us? I bet the same shenanigans happen there.
Frothy sea of bullshit is half of starbucks menu
Good well soon, Toney!
Get well soon Toney!
Beer Richards says
This is a masterpiece of life experience writing. So damn good. You’re the best on the net. No BS. I am studying up. Keep at it. More. Just do. It’s gonna come back to you. Prayers for rapid recovery and coming out of this better than imagined.
Sorry to hear that Toney was so sick and glad to hear she is getting better. Give her my best and try to relax as much as you can (which from all evidence is not so much).