Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I am John's searing chest pain

OK, so I really want to be smug and laugh about Ashcroft’s health. But as much as I want him “disappeared,” I cannot make light of his current situation.
I had a gallstone. It fucking hurts. I have never in my life experienced anything so painful. It’s incredible how medical issues and searing pain can bring your life into an instant, narrow focus.

But, you know, I had a really big gallstone. Ashcroft made several small ones. And, I mean, if you’re gonna do something, do it once, do it right. So I made mine real big, about the size of one of those big shooter marbles. The first attack was in January. I was 19. Emergency rooms, doctors, etc. blew me off, said it was in my head, essentially. “Panic attacks,” while sometimes an actual condition, is also a nice, clinical sounding way of saying “we don’t want to deal with you.” Nevermind my symptoms were completely unrelated to anxiety disorders. Nevermind I pointed this out to them. Nevermind they lied on my charts at Saint Francis hospital.

Later it was pointed out to me that no one could tell how much pain I was in. I was too calm.

The pain was only second to the not-knowing. That was the real torture. Once they’d taken me seriously, and made a plan of action, I was relieved. Terrified of the surgery, but relieved of all the mystery.

The surgery got fucked up, because the surgeon also did not take me seriously enough. A 45 minute surgery ended up taking 2.5 hours. Again, because he did not think I was as bad off as I was. I tried to tell him, but I guess it did not show.

Coming up from anesthesia is a moment in my life I will never forget. I don’t understand it, but the sheer terror and panic I experienced in that split second stays with me and still scares the crap out of me. I remember gasping for air, desperately clawing back up to life. That’s just the beginning. Anesthesia stays in your system for months, and that’s on top of the healing problems. I was constantly tired, and incredibly depressed. I was scared to eat, and cried a lot. I had mentally disowned my left hand when they put the I.V. in, and refused to use it. I made a life in a reclining chair at my parents’ house for a week or two. I found four holes in my stomach and ripped stitches out of three of them on accident. The fourth, I had to struggle to keep them in. I hated my new scars, then became very attached to one of them. Unfortunately, that’s the one that faded the most. I wanted to turn them into more scars, tattoos, and branding, piercing, something to mark the experience.

It turns out I have a high tolerance for pain. Prior to all of this, I’d never had any injuries to speak of, never a broken bone, no stitches, no sprains. And I’d always assumed I’d have a low threshold for pain.
But when it hurt, no one could tell how much. The first several doctors didn’t think the pain was great enough for it to be an actual for-real medical problem. In the end, my mother had to tell me to over-act the pain, so they’d take it seriously. And that’s how I finally got their attention. Even now, it’s hard to tell when I’m really in pain. When it comes to doctors, I remind myself to over-act. Do not absorb the pain, toss it back up in tears… I don’t like admitting I’m hurt, and sometimes I can’t even tell myself.

So, Ashcroft? Yeah, I 'm sorry, man. That shit hurts. Bad.
I only hope they don't steal your stones like they stole mine. Fuckers.

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