I forgot how much I hate Jell-O.
I’m back home now after a three-day stint at the hospital, where gelatin was the one of the few things I could eat—when I could eat at all.
This particular hell ride began on Thursday morning when I started feeling stomach pains. I assumed I had eaten something that disagreed with me and that whatever it was would soon pass.
I was incredibly wrong. The pain worsened over the course of the day, even though I was wolfing down Pepto-Bismol tablets by the handful.
I kept telling myself that I was okay, but my doubts grew as the agony increased. I got into bed at 11pm, but the pain was so terrible that I knew I had to do something.
Finally, I got up, dressed, and called for a car to take me down to the ER at Lutheran Medical Center.
But I was still telling myself that the doctors would give me something for my guts and send me home in a few hours. I had even planned on going to work the next day.
Clearly fortune-telling is not my strong suit.
I entered the surreal netherworld of the ER, where time has no meaning, and ushered into a small room where the doctors began performing tests.
“Is your belly always distended like this?” one physician asked when she rolled up my shirt.
“No,” I said, noting that I could barely button my pants.
As I lay there waiting for tests results, I could see a cop bringing in a handcuffed young man who looked physically fine and mentally twisted. He was taken to a booth in a distant corner where he soon began screaming “Nurse!” repeatedly at the top of his lungs.
Your Room is Ready
“Will somebody please tase this fuck?” I groaned.
No such luck. The loser, apparently angered by the number of immigrant ER staffers, began insulting them.
“You’re not American!” he roared. “You’re not American! I’m an American!”
And I’m thinking of leaving the country, thanks to you, you worthless freak.
Two young doctors came into my room and told me that, according to a CAT scan, a portion of my colon had come lose and was now blocking up my innards.
“It’s pretty serious,” one of them said.
Serious, yes; pretty? No way in hell.
The nurse set about finding me a room and, at about 6 AM on Friday morning, I finally decided to contact my aunt and sister and tell them what the hell was going on.
And I here I have to say that my two favorite ladies were absolute angels during this trying time. My sister was at the hospital every day for hours at a time, visiting with me and conferring with various hospital officials. I am such a lucky little bastard to have her in my life.
Now I was the patient. I was the one in pajamas walking the hallways and tugging the IV stand around like a silent dance partner.
The doctors didn’t want me to eat or drink anything, so I sat in my bed with a tube down my throat sucking the gunk out of my stomach. The sign over my head—“Nothing By Mouth”—made it clear that I should not be fed.
The tube was removed on Sunday and I was allowed to finally start consuming broth, fruit juice, and yes, gelatin. I didn’t like this stuff when I was a kid, but it was a regular feast after days of starvation.
The food started making things happen in my lower regions, if you know what I mean, and I dutifully reported this activity to the nurses.
“I have all these dreams of being a famous writer,” I told my sister during one of our hallway hikes, “and now my biggest accomplishment is taking a poop.”
The head surgeon initially thought that I could go home without surgery, something that brought boundless joy to the hearts of my family and myself.
However, he later conferred with other doctors at the hospital and decided that I will have to submit to a less invasive form of surgery within the next three weeks.
I’m not happy about this, but I can’t risk suffering another attack. If this condition had flared up just a few days earlier, my fabulous California vacation would have been a disaster. For that I am very thankful.
So soon I’ll be back at the hospital, back to no food, and, ultimately, back to Jell-O. But if I can put an end to this suffering, I’ll gladly walk those halls one more time.