Heavy Things: Part 1

Episode 2 of The Docks went up on Friday. Did you miss it? I missed it. I missed most of last week. Here’s why.

On Tuesday, I went to see my obstetrician for a routine procedure to lessen the painful residual effects of my monthly cycle. I get nausea, prolonged bleeding, skin issues, migraines- the whole shebang. The procedure was the ablation of my uterine lining. It was a snap. I went home and felt very little pain. The procedure itself was much less painful that most of my periods. I took ibuprofen even though nothing hurt. You know, just in case.

I woke up a 4:30 to vomit. I made it to the toilet, started to heave, and then the world got very far away. I ended up on the floor in my closet trying to shout for help, but I couldn’t make enough sound to be heard even though I’d left the bathroom door open. I think I passed out. I remember opening my eyes and thinking I could make it back to bed. I did. I fell back asleep. At 5:30 I repeated the process, this time with my husband in tow. He leaned over me asking, “Are you okay? Shawna, are you okay?” My head hurt. My abdomen hurt. Everything got very far away again. I was not okay.

The ER assumed I had come in for pain. They kept me for a couple hours, gave me some meds, diagnosed me with a UTI and sent me home.

My mom arrived home with me. My husband was on and off the phone with my OB. I lay crying in the bed and spiked a fever. We went back to the ER.

They readmitted me with a fever of 103, gave me my third IV in 24 hours, did a CT scan and told me I had a bladder infection and an infection in my endometrium. The pain meds did nothing. They switched them around. The three antibiotics all made me sick. They gave me nausea meds. The nausea meds blocked my digestive tract. They gave me milk of magnesia. The milk of magnesia gave me nausea. They gave me pain meds and nausea meds. They kept me overnight. My nurses were amazing. Every one of them would check my blood pressure, grab a different cuff and check it again. It slowly crept up that first day from 70/50 to 74/52. My fever broke in the night, but returned in the morning.


They kept me overnight again. LaWanda took care of me during the day shift. She was efficient, smiling, sweet and very concerned. Despite an abundance of full moon babies, I was never left alone long. She was especially helpful when it came to finding gluten and dairy free food for me to eat during my stay. It was a good thing I couldn’t eat much, because the only options they found were dry Rice Chex, juice, Baked Lays Tostitos, and a banana. The cafeteria sent meals, but I was unable get the food down. LaWanda had a five month baby at home and two other children. She held my hand and told me about them when I was at my edge. I didn’t tell her, but I thought I was going to die.

Melanie took care of me the second night. By then I knew my doctor was also concerned that I had a low platelet count. I counted five punctures in my right arm and one in my left. I was more coherent, but also more moody. The pain was gone from my abdomen, but my migraine wouldn’t ease. She brought me cold compresses and water. She told me she had four kids, three of whom were about to enter odd numbered years. She spoke quickly, gave me her nurse phone number so I always got her directly, and she showed up right away. She encouraged me off the pain meds. I was happy to comply. They weren’t helping. They were making me sick. In fact, the antibiotics were making me sick. My fever broke. Melanie came in to change my soaked sheets and clothes. My blood pressure was up to 80/59. “Well, that’s good compared to what it was,” she said. “We need to get it up higher.” I went back to bed, back to nightmares. I woke up and heard what I was sure was someone breathing in my room, watching me. I called Melanie, my chest tight. I thought it was an asthma attack, but it was anxiety.

In the end, it was antibiotic-induced anxiety that got me out of the hospital. I thought I was fainting. I called for a nurse. A team was rushing around me and I could see them but they were so far away. I knew my name. My eyes fell shut. When I could finally breathe again, I cried. I was hysterical. Melanie marched into the room and told me to calm down. “Doctor can’t understand you if you’re crying. You have to stop crying.” I cried harder. She was at the end of her shift, on the way out the door to her four children at home for summer while she attempted sleep. “You have to stop crying.” In the hallway, I heard her murmur quietly to the doctor who came in and asked me kindly if I was feeling anxious. Oh. Yes. I wanted to go home.

I might have wanted to crawl into a hole for falling to pieces and causing the frenzy of activity by the nurses whose care I was under. I didn’t have energy to be humiliated. I had just spent 36 hours having someone stand next to me while I peed so they could make sure I didn’t fall off the toilet and inspect my output. I’d had a team of mostly faceless (I didn’t have my glasses the first day) men and women dressing and undressing me and looking in my underwear for blood. So I just cried more. The doctor offered me medicine for anxiety. I didn’t want it. A nurse, bless her, recognized the moment. She wrapped my arm in a blood pressure cuff. 104/62. I could go home.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

0 Discussion to this post

  1. Amna says:

    Brave brave you! That sounds like a terrible ordeal to go thrpugh… One thing after another going wrong. Good to know you’re healing and better … Sending loving, healing thoughts your way.

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