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So shortly after my last post, in which I gleefully considered the possibilities of relaxation and productivity for today, I started to have abdominal cramps. At first I thought it was food poisoning, and who knows, maybe it is. Soon I was shaking and sweating and feverish. I managed to make myself puke a couple of times, which made things a tad better. Soon, it became clear that my old friend, The Appendix, was acting up.
It was a long time ago, but I think the first time wasn't too bad, just scary in it's mystery.
Part One: February 1, 2002
It was during midterms in college. Like every time, it started suddenly, during my poli sci exam. It ended in the emergency room, where the school nurse had sent me just in case my appendix was exploding, even though she wasn't sure. Two CAT scans and a huge bill later, the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me, just that I had a thick appendix, which might be how mine normally is. And thus I had my one and only emergency room adventure. I still remember everything vividly. The triage nurse--a harpist named Karen Hardy. My blood flowing out as a thick sludge because I'd been avoiding food and water in case of surgery. The IV to hydrate me. The first doctor, who had an EMT in training with him, and demonstrated where the appendix was (halfway between the belly button and hip bone.) The guy who took me to the CAT scan ("You're the first person with abdominal cramps I've seen be able to walk under their own power!") My roommate Claire, who stuck with me the whole time. They didn't remove my appendix, and I went home.

Part 2: September 26, 2002

My mother had just made her second illicit journey to Washington DC, and this time, it was my turn to go back there to get her. This time, she was safe in a hospital. I was spending the night before leaving in my parents' motor home, and it was there that the cramps started. I remember getting up several times to puke on the lawn by the back tires, too weak to run inside the house. I didn't bother with the emergency room that time, and the next evening, I was descending over the light-limned outline of Chesapeake Bay, feeling the final cramps fading.

Part 3: This afternoon

Today will be remembered for kneeling on my tiled bathroom floor, sticking a finger down my throat to puke and relieve the pressure. The strangely pleasant taste--chocolate and berries from the Cliff Bar and sparkling water I'd been drinking. Cursing my broken thermometer and trying to think of who I could call to take me to the emergency room if it came to it. Lying in bed trying to finish A Dance With Dragons, wishing I had a less cumbersome book. When I did finish it, rolling around in a feverish chill, flannel sheets tangled between my legs, moaning involuntarily as I flipped from side to side, and trying to keep my freshly showered hair from sticking to me. Praying that it was just a bit of badly digested food stuck in a corner of my intestines, and not my old friend the appendix.

I'm fine. I'm not going to die from this today. I just hate not knowing what causes it. And will, someday, my appendix finally explode?

I thought maybe it was stress that caused it. Certainly the September incident is one of the more stressful events of my entire life, but saying that midterms were stressful enough to anger my appendix was stretching it. Still, I held onto that hypothesis until now. There have been so many times I've kept a careful eye on my wayward organ, thinking that whatever experience was stressful to warrant it. But it never happened. And right now, while my life is hardly stress free, is overall full of joy and literal sunshine.

Anyway, now I'm glad I was lazy and didn't venture out to take the water taxi to West Seattle, like I'd been pondering. Having this happen when I was halfway across town sounds nightmarish. I'm also grateful it didn't happen yesterday while moving Keffy, or tomorrow while I was at work.

Now I'm down to the stage that features nothing but dull pain over the appendix. It'll be like that till morning, probably. And then life will carry on. At the moment, I'm still weak and shaky, but I'm enjoying a hearty meal of dry toast (I'm also grateful I was indulgent last time I bought bread, and got the white stuff, rather than the healthful kind.)

I love you, little appendix. Why do you hate me?

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Elizabeth Coleman

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