This won't hurt a bit

Mom loaded me right up in the car and headed for the emergency room in the next town. The doctor would meet us there. This was in the old days where you had one doctor that could set a broken bone, do surgury, tell you you were pg, test for vd, pull a fish hook out of your foot, treat hypothermia, and fish the pea out of your sister's nose. AND would leave his home or office to meet you at the hospital in an emergency. I miss that doctor. And yes, it was the same emergency room where I had my hand x-rayed when I was four.

Eight years is a long time and I guess they had forgotten me by then because they let us in with no problem. The doctor must have called ahead because a nurse met us at the car with a wheel chair. They wouldn't let me walk at all even though it wasn't hurting now.

They wheeled me into an examining room, back then they had real doors and only one gurney per room, no sharing with the old guy dying from a heart attack, it was private and you didn't pay extra for it. I started to get on the table when the pain, skipping the build up, went through my guts like a hot prong through a marshmallow. I bent over so fast they thought I was falling.

Mom and the nurse grabbed my shoulders and my feet and slung me up on the cold steel covered with plain white wrapping paper. I remember wondering if they could see me at all or if I matched the paper so closely that I was invisible. I curled around my belly like a catapillar around a finger and moaned.

The doctor walked in just then, of course. So I looked sick to him, too and there was no way out now. No saying, "It doesn't hurt now," and going home. I just knew he was going to poke and thump and prod and measure me till I was all bruises. Then he'd stick me with a needle. I started to tear up.

"What's the trouble, Val?" he asked in his "get down to business" voice.

"My stomach hurts really bad and then it stops. I feel a little dizzy then and I look like a ghost and I'm too warm," I rambled on to him.

He put his hand on my forehead, then on my shoulder and gave a little pat. "Let's get her in a gown, Nurse, and Mama, come talk to me while she gets changed." They left the room.

This was my first experience with the thing medicos call a "gown". It won't keep you warm, covered up or comfortable and it's always too big or too small. The gap can't be closed no matter how you hold it and some part of you touches the cold table no matter how you lie down on it. I hated it then and hate them now. All the complaining I have done over the years and they have not redesigned them at all, what a waste of whining.

The pain was going away so sitting up and getting out of my clothes was only embarrassing, not painful. "Nurse" folded them up as I took them off. She slipped the gown over my head as I took off my shirt so I took the rest off under it.

I was surprised to see that I was white all over, not just on my face. All my scars and bug bites stood out like dark marbles on a white floor against the pallor of my legs and arms.

(When I had my heart attack last year they asked me if I had ever been abused. I was so taken aback that I almost didn't answer. Then I said, "Yes, by my sisters when I was little. They always ganged up on me." Between the bugs, the bushes, the bonfires, the creeks, the motorcycles, bicycles, unicycles, ladders, trees, chairs, stairs, football, frisbies and general crashes off swing sets I am scarred all over my legs and arms. Back then it was just a few chicken pox left overs and bug bites.)

I felt dizzy again so I laid back down. Nurse went to the door to let the doctor know I was ready and Mom came back in with him.

Now the fun started. Doc got out the fancy lights and looked at my eyes, nose, ears and then grabbed a flattener to see past my tongue and down my throat. He put the cold round thing on my chest by my ribs and then moved it to other places before it could get warm, a nasty trick. He even put it on my stomach. I never had a doctor listien to my stomach before.

While he did that nurse did the pump up thingy, held my wrist and stared at her watch then popped a thermometer in my mouth as soon and the doc pulled the flattener out. They were all quiet except for the "hmmmmm...." and "hummm" noises all doctors make when they are thinking.

He stood back from the table while Nurse fished the temp thing out and said, " 103, Doctor."

The Doc looked right at me. "I want to check your abdomen for tenderness, Val. It's going to be a little uncomfortable but you're a big girl and I don't want you to cry unless it REALLY hurts, OK?"

This was his way of letting me know he had heard about the episode with the hand and that he wouldn't put up with any the hat tricks from a twelve year old girl. I nodded agreement.

First he just placed his hand spread fingered over my tummy. Then he just wiggled his fingers a little bit. That was ok. Then he pushed down with his thumb. 'OW!!" It was a cross between a scream and squeek. I was trying not to scream but it HURT and that one got by me. I pushed off with one foot and I almost snaked right out from under his hand and off the table. Mom glared and Nurse was right behind my head so I didn't get past her. I slid back down, looked right at the doc and told him, "That HURT!"

Then he started using both hands and pushing into my stomach all over the place. It hurt really badly in several areas. He wasn't pleased. "Mrs. P., can I speak to you outside please.

"Hey," I interrupted, "may I get dressed now?"

"Not just yet, Val, we'll see when I get back." He looked pretty serious when he turned to leave with Mom. I didn't like it one bit!

There isn't much more boring than laying flat on your back in a white room with a white ceiling and nothing to read. Your brain just flies down the road of "what if". What if I'm going to die? Will I go to heaven? Would I see Grama there? Does God mark down for shutting your sister in the closet? Will I go to hell because I said "he**" once? What if dead people are just the skeletons of themselves and not angels? WHOA! Scary! What if I can never eat again? What if they take me off Safety Patrol because I didn't go back to my post when I was told to by my Hall Leader? If I died Vee would be the oldest, the little kids weren't going to like that! What if I didn't die but had to walk bent over the rest of my life? Would my guts always hurt? I never even had a real boyfriend! I didn't want to die! I didn't do my homework for today yet!

Yup, I scared myself. I have always been really good at it. By the time Mom and the Doc got back the pain had been and gone once and I was in a real sweat, not just feverish.

"Valerie, I want to have another doctor look at you. He specializes in abdominal medicine. He is on his way now. Is that ok with you? I looked at mom for my cue and she narrowed her eyes and nodded. That meant you better say yes.

"Yes, I guess so," I told him, as directed. Mom smiled at me and gave me the "good girl" nod.
So we all waited for Dr. Unus.

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