Day Three: Emily’s endometriosis seems to be acting up, although the pain isn’t in the same place as before. I make jokes about us both having abdominal pain, and conditions that end with “is.” It’s a competition! She’s also been coughing since she started taking allergy medicine. There’s irony.
Day Four: Chiropractor appointments for both of us. It’s nice to do things as a couple. Later we sit on the couch with ice packs as a couple and watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Great musical score, but the pace puts us to sleep. We’ll start our real vacation tomorrow.
Day Five: Emily gives up several pints of various fluids to the doctor, while I joke that my work’s clinic has become a daily destination. Later we go to the drive-in movies, but bellyaches bother us both. At least we didn’t have to sit through an odd numbered Star Trek movie.
Day Six: Emily hurts too much to go camping. That’s very bad. My ex-Scout wife lives to do outdoorsy stuff, but we can only manage to build a backyard fire pit out of old chimney bricks. One shows an indentation from my head.
Day Seven: We spend Sunday talking about what we should be doing on our vacation.
Day Eight: The OB/GYN pokes and prods – Emily, not me – with an increasing look of concern. He should be concerned: If he causes her much more pain she’s going to send him to a plastic surgeon. He makes sure we’re sitting down before declaring she may have a hernia.
WTF? For you old timers, that means “huh?”
Day Nine: Emily’s pre-scheduled appointment with a dental surgeon is entirely unconnected to all the rest … we assume. He explains that her one remaining wisdom tooth is buried deeper than a congressman’s soul and is cuddling with a major nerve, and if it isn’t bothering her we should probably just leave it alone. We paid $99 for this suggestion of inactivity. On the brighter side, she has two cavities.
Day Ten: Apparently I’m dehydrated, because the nurse blows two of my veins – a phrase I find disconcerting. I almost make a joke about her optometrist, but she’s still aiming a needle at my arm. For the rest of vacation I’ll carry a bruise the approximate shape, color, and size of the Mars rover crater.
Day Eleven: Emily’s cavities get drilled, I have a routine cleaning. The family that stays together … what do you mean, I have a filling, too? And just one? She “wins.”
Later that day I stop eating. It’s not my idea: Apparently a colonoscopy involves two days of preparation for a twenty minute procedure.
Day Twelve: I take six doses of laxative. Emily mixes Gatorade and another, powdered laxative into a fifty-five gallon drum, which I have to drink in six ounce increments over the space of three hours. Then I can sleep until my appointment the next day. Hah. There’ll be no sleep tonight.
Day Thirteen: I’ve never worn one of those hospital gowns before. They’re flimsy, impossible to figure out, don’t cover enough, and are probably expensive, so I promptly dub mine “Obamacover.” Having had much experience with medical facilities, I prefer the other side of the cot.
I sleep through the procedure, including Emily dressing me and my daughter driving me home. Easiest day of the week. The doctor has removed a polyp near the site of my diverticulosis, a sentence I refuse to examine more closely.
Day Fourteen: We’re exhausted. We’ve done nothing, gone nowhere, and accomplished nothing, but we’re exhausted.
Day Fifteen: It’s now Emily’s turn to fast. She’s to have a CAT scan, which prompts all sorts of feline related jokes. It’s just a matter of time before she clobbers me, but at least the hospital already has my information.
Day Sixteen: Emily’s chest hurts. Huh. It’s where she had some odd pain as a child, only this time I’m determined someone will figure out what it is.
Day Seventeen: We meet with the surgeon, who explains he will not be operating because, according to Emily’s CAT scan, she has absolutely no problems in her abdomen or pelvis. We’re back to square one. It’s like playing Monopoly for two weeks, only to land on a Chance card that tells you to start over again from scratch.
Day Eighteen: I try to think of some last minute fun thing to do, but it hurts Emily to ride in the car and I think I’m getting a sinus infection … and I’m having some after-effects from the colonoscopy. We’re having a Staycation.
Day Nineteen: Another poking and prodding session, by an old doctor who seems interested in actually finding out what’s wrong. It seems Emily has an injury to the cartilage around her sternum – thus the chest pain – probably made worse again by her recent coughing. It’s called Tietze’s syndrome. No, seriously. Recovery is a slow process: My wife, who normally loves nothing more than to get out into the wilderness all summer, is pretty much stuck at home. I offer to let her hit me, but she declines. Maybe I’ll start making puns again until she unleashes some stress-relieving injury.
Day Twenty: We schedule another appointment with the girl parts doctor about her abdomen. I’m going to threaten him, or bribe him. Probably threaten, as we’ve plowed through our health savings account for the year.
Day Twenty-one: I insist to Emily that tomorrow we’re going to go out and do something fun and vacation-like. She points out that I have to go back to work tonight.
After all those needles, it’s the first time in three weeks that I cry.