I’ve come a long way from when I first moved to Seattle. It’s been an experience of ups and downs since I arrived here back in June. I feel like lately I’ve been on a downward slope, but this week I dubbed the week of getting my shit together and have been focusing on exactly that.
I wrapped up a project at work that has not been the most enjoyable. I finally got the good deal on health insurance at work and made new choices for how my retirement plan should pan out at work. These are all of the adult life decisions that stress me out, but make me feel like maybe I’m heading in the right direction.
I sat at home the other evening, feeling accomplished by all that I had completed this week, relaxing on my couch with a glass of wine in hand, when I suddenly got a sharp pain in my side.
As I’ve stated before, I love living by myself. That said, there is always fear that exists when one lives alone that doesn’t exist with roommates. For instance, with a roommate, someone would find my body after I slipped and hit my head in the shower. In my current situation, I’d be left until someone complained that there was flooding coming from my apartment that was clearly wasteful and not environmentally friendly.
So an instance like side pain triggers a whole plethora of thoughts that I had not allowed to enter my brain until that moment. What if something is seriously wrong with me? I don’t have Katie, my old college roommate who is currently in med school and lives half a nation away from me, to assess any medical neuroses that I have. She is the same friend who gave me hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes as part of a Christmas gift because I’m constantly complaining about what diseases I might have contracted on the bus.
“Katie, does this look infected? Katie, what do you think is wrong with me? Here are my symptoms.” I’d be remiss if didn’t tell you that I jump at the chance to send her pictures of any injury I’ve had as soon as I get the chance, like that time I half ripped a toenail off in Venice, but that’s a story for another day. This time I didn’t need to be told I’m probably just a hypochondriac over the phone. All I really needed was a ride to the hospital.
I wanted to WebMD search “sharp side pain,” but every time I use that I’m diagnosed with cancer and didn’t need that stress on my plate. It was too late to call Katie for medical advice, and that’s when I remembered the story that has been told numerous times in my family about my mom’s appendicitis, and I reached straight up panic mode.
The story goes something along the lines of my mom and dad had just gotten married about a month before. My dad had the flu, so my mom assumed she had gotten the flu as well, until one night when they decided to go to the emergency room and they discovered she needed her appendix taken out. They told her that it exploded in the doctor’s hand in the operating room.
Of course, when my dad is around, this turns into him telling us not to underestimate how bad his flu was as well, and how he couldn’t eat tacos for a long time after watching those come back up. A fact that is still shocking to this day, seeing as he probably eats Mexican food at least once a week.
I remembered the appendectomy tale, and I freaked out a little bit. What would I do?
I’ve always lived with someone who could have helped me out. A midnight run to an emergency room? I’ve never been in a situation without a roommate, even when I was living overseas, who would have jumped at the chance to help me out, no questions asked.
But here I was, drinking wine alone, wondering what my emergency room coverage was on my brand new health insurance plan. I wondered what I would do if, in fact, I needed some sort of ride to the hospital after I had only sold my car on Craigslist a few weeks ago. It was late at night, so I figured I could easily catch a cab or grab a Lyft to the hospital.
I ran through the scenario in my head, thinking it would all happen so fast. I didn’t even have an emergency contact. If, in fact, I had to go in for an emergency surgery, I’d just have to go it alone and hope for the best. I imagined I’d have to call my parents the next day and say, “Don’t freak out, but last night I went in for a minor surgery…remember that story about Dad throwing up tacos?” I figured a surgery was the type of news you told with a phone call rather than a text message. I’d take a cab back to my apartment and drag myself around until I felt better.
At least I had a plan of attack until I could solidify a Seattle emergency contact who could help me out with medical emergencies. I came up with my plan after about three minutes of pain, at which point it subsided and never came back. All that stress turned out to be nothing at all, except the addition of now coming up with an emergency contact who is conveniently located in the area and would put up with my hypochondriac bullshit.
I shared this story with my parents the next day, at which point we relived the appendectomy tale, the taco vomit, and it was pointed out to me that my appendix was, in fact, on my right side, and not the left where I had felt the pain. A little fact that, had I payed attention more in school, would have saved me from a lot of anxiety.