{ Tuesday, February 22, 2005 }


My family is notorious for their ability to deny medical maladies. I don't have a specific example from my great-grandmothers, but I can tell you that one night when she was working at the store, two men came in with a gun and demanded money.

She gave them each five dollars and told them to go have a drink at Thus-And-Such Bar. The police arrested them there. I am told she was more than ninety years old at the time.

My grandmother poked her hernia back in for forty years. When my mother was a little girl, she was fond of climbing a certain tree. She was told not to come crying to her mother when she fell out.

What did my mother get when she fell out of that tree and went crying to her mother with a broken wrist? "I told you..." Her older brother was in his residency at the time and set it for her.

In her older years, Grandma told my cousin that his belly pains were just gas and to take some Pepto Bismol and get over it.... right up 'til his appendix burst.

One of my uncles was terrible about driving himself to the hospital, even when having a stroke. He got pulled over one time when he'd nearly taken off his hand... he was driving erratically (with his children in the car. He had stopped to pick them up on his way to the hospital).

My mother is no exception. "Girls, are you allowed to be sick?" "No Mom. We're not those kind of people." She has denied the existence of all manner of illnesses, claiming among her credentials a Better Homes and Gardens Medical Degree.

So, yesterday, Steady woke me up (unintentionally) at five in the morning. He doesn't sleep quite as brick-ishly as I do and so I rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep. I was up again at six forty-five.

He said he had stomach cramps. So, before seven in the morning, I put on shoes and walked down to the pharmacy in my pajamas and bed head and bought the boy some Pepto and ginger ale. I am my grandmother's child.

Then he puked. I called in sick to work. Sometime in the middle of the morning, he seemed to think he was dying. So, I went to the store and picked up crackers, an anti-gas drug and some of those tabs you dissolve in water that said "sour stomachs" on the box. I also bought a thermometer.

His temperature was below normal and he was still walking upright. Just complaining of stomach cramps. Oh and he puked that medicine back up too. He had a 24-hour bug, in my diagnosis.

I fell asleep around noon. He woke me up at two, like "I must see a doctor right this minute, please take me to see a doctor."

We had a brief discussion about where he wanted to go and then he began directing me to what I thought was going to be an Urgent Care Center. I mean, right up until I was told to pull under the awning labelled EMERGENCY, I thought we were going to round the bend and be at Urgent Care.

He wanted to go to the ER. I thought this might be a little bit of using the cannonball to kill the canary, and said so. He called his mother who told him to just go on in there.

Eventually, I joined him. He told me it was going to be a few hours. I asked if he really thought this was necessary. Did he want to wait three hours? No, he did not.

We went to Urgent Care where we were also told it would be a few hours. On that note, we gave up and returned to my apartment.

Around nine pm, he woke me up... he was feeling better. Not great, but better. He was smiling. I got to "I told you so" about the stomach bug. This morning, he seemed to be doing really well, although he said his stomach muscles were sore from all the activity yesterday.

I called him around two. He had gotten up and driven home. He was doing better, although a quick conference with WebMD had declared that he might have appendicitis.

He called back closer to three, he was on his way back to the ER. This time his mother was driving. I talked to her (on his cell phone) around five.

It looks like it is his appendix. They're gonna take it out tonight or in the morning. I didn't ask about white counts or CT results, even though I really wanted to. Instead, I offered to come by with dinner or books or anything else they might want. ("I know hospitals are cold and boring.") I was denied.

I still don't really believe that it's his appendix. I think they're liable to take it out without need. He didn't have a fever. His color was fine. No one gave me anything to support the diagnosis. I need more information before I am going to concur.

And so, a fourth generation of Bl@u women earns her Better Homes and Gardens Medical Degree.

UPDATE 7:30 PM I talked to him. He did, in fact, have a CT. He does, in fact, have a pretty serious inflammation of his appendix and they are taking it out tonight. More as it becomes available.

posted by mary ann 6:20 PM