Coming home from blighty, and for the last two days I was there, I found I was having a fair amount of back pain near the place where my right kidney resides. It got progressively worse and by Friday I could barely move. I was told repeatedly by many people to get my ass to the doctor, but I am stubborn and I was convinced all I needed was Tylenol, a heating pad and time. Until I realized I had started running a fever. Even then, I was sure it could wait til morning when the bartender would be home from work and I could drive myself there in the car. My neighbors Sugar and Spice were not having any of it. Spice called me from downstairs where they were watching the hockey game. "[Sugar] says she had a friend who died because of a kidney infection. She says if you don't come down here right now, [the Marine] is going to come up there and hog tie you and carry you to the car." Under those circumstances I allowed them to drive me to Northwestern (after the hockey game of course. Come on, it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup!).
We arrived at Northwestern Emergency and checked me in. I got a fancy bracelet and was quickly called in to see the nurse. "I'm running a fever and I have a lot of pain in my right kidney," I told her.
"How do you know it's your kidney?" she asked.
This struck me as a trick question, but then again I had a fever. "Um, well, it's in the place where they taught me in biology class my kidney is supposed to be, so I just figured..." This seemed to be a satisfactory answer. She took my temperature (99.3), gave me a cup to pee in and told me to go to the desk if I suddenly got any worse.
I went and sat with Sugar and Spice. I didn't want to sit. I was in pain and had a fever and I wanted to lay down. But as all the seats in the waiting room have metal arms and it's not socially acceptable to lay on the floor in public I ended up curling myself into an upright fetal position and resting my head on my knees. And we waited.
And we waited.
The only good thing about having to go to the ER is that they are endlessly entertaining. There was a guy who worked there in some capacity (crowd control?) we named "Bernie Mac Guy" because he bore a resemblance to Bernie Mac and he was pimping out in a black suit of indeterminate material, a red shirt, a black tie and an incongruous pair of white latex gloves. I announced I wanted to marry him (fever). There was also a decrepit old man doing Sanford and Son impressions obnoxiously enough that Bernie Mac Guy told him if he didn't shut up he'd be put away in a room by himself. My favorite was a kid who may or may not have been in his mid twenties who I named Captain Vomit. Captain Vomit was so named because he was clearly going through severe withdrawal. He'd been issued a bed pan and every 15 minutes or so he would violently throw up into it and then button it with a pitiful moan of "Oooohh God, I want to die." God did not appear to be listening. But Captain Vomit is obviously much smarter than I, because as I was trying to get comfortable curled into a ball in a hard plastic chair, Captain Vomit took his bed pan and his blanket and lay down right in the middle of the waiting room floor. The staff yelled at him for some time to get up to no avail. Eventually they gave up and, get this people, wheeled a bed in for him to lay in so he would get off the floor. I was furious. "Is that it?" I complained to Spice. "All I had to do was lay on the fucking floor and they would have brought me a bed? Man, this is bullshit." And we waited.
While all this was going on, I was progressively getting worse. My legs were numb from my knees to my ass because of the way I was sitting, and the fever was making me too nauseous to hold my head up. Sugar and Spice were carrying on a conversation that I was listening to, but not much participating in because speaking (let alone thinking) was an effort. But apparently I tried. And apparently when I'm in a fever delirium I am fucking hilarious. It was related to me later (and mind you, I have almost no memory of any of this) that while they were talking I would appear to drift off to sleep, only to abruptly pop my head up every 20 minutes, make a completely inappropriate sexual comment, and immediately go back to sleep. Some of the things I allegedly said (anyone I'm related to would do well to stop reading right here and go to the next paragraph) are that "sperm is delicious!", that in fact I was a "come connoisseur" and therefore knew what I was talking about, and that a fun thing I found out I liked was being slapped in the face. I can't really argue with them - these are all things that I would definitely think, just not usually out loud.
At some point it became clear to the pair of them that I was in way worse shape than when I got there and Sugar talked the nurse into taking my temperature again, which had rocketed up to 102.2 over the two hours we'd been sitting there. The nurse gave me some Motrin and then I sat there and whined for the next 20 minutes about "when is it going to wooooooooork" until it kicked in. And we waited.
By this time it was past 1:30 in the morning and Sugar had taken a cab home. Spice and I sat discussing something (probably sex toys) for another hour or so until an enormous group of enormous people came in. They were all dressed like skanks, entirely in white, and every single one had blood on their clothes somewhere. It seemed they had been at a white party and several people had been stabbed, shot or both. One woman had poured herself into an outfit three sizes too small and made out of terrycloth with huge gold buttons down the front. "I want an outfit made out of a towel," I pouted to Spice, who pissed herself laughing. In the midst of this commotion my name was finally called.
The doctor, who was pleasantly surprised when we applauded her entrance to the room, told me I had a kidney infection and possibly a kidney stone, but that I would need a CT scan to find out about that last part. She then put me on a fluid drip and ran away with several vials of my blood. I was now very excited because 1) I love having an IV because it makes me feel important and 2) I had never had a CT scan before so I was curious and besides, how could a giant doughnut not be fun?
It turns out a CT scan is mostly just lonely because there's no one in there with you. The highlight was the contrast fluid. They ran it into my IV and a few seconds later everything from my neck to my vajay was really really hot for about 30 seconds. It was awesome. They did this twice. Boo-yah.
Anyway, long story even longer, I did not have a kidney stone so they gave me some antibiotics, an anti nausea and some Vicodin and sent me away. Total hospital time: 8 hours. Total hospital bill: just under $11,000. Hilarious moments I'm still giggling at a month later and that freak out the marine: Priceless.
Sugar and Spice: Thank you so much for out stubborning me and then sitting with me in the psych ward for the injured all night! You are both princesses among women.