Friday, November 16, 2012

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A memoir

C h a p t e r  1

Capital Beltway, Silver Spring, MD. Sign up ahead. DANGEROUS CURVE

Groan. This is the last place on earth I want to be. Currently, I'm cruising down the highway to Hades with hubby, headed to my obstetrician’s office for the infamous six-week post-natal checkup. And I’m pissed. That probably has something to do with the fact that I take gross exception to nearly dying each time I give birth. Well, make that nearly dying in two out of three labor and deliveries over the span of seven years. The second one, a boy by the way, was the scene of much joy and happiness because I had no pain. It was like I was stoned the whole time as I surfed these massive waves of undulating pain levels, giggling uncontrollably each time the doctor said push. No surprise then that only son ended up a forceps child. But with the birth of daughters one and two, I begged to die, until death actually came knocking on my door. Well, as you can imagine, I slammed it shut as soon as I saw who it was! 
       Ah well, maybe I just need to get over my mad. Won’t be needing Dr. L&D again, anyways. Will I? After all, my baby- raising days are over. Aren’t they? I’m only 36, but I’d sure love to see 37, maybe even 70, before round three of my short, philosophical discussion with Mr. Death goes something like, hell no, I won't go! I mean, everybody knows the third time he comes knocking, you're out of options.
As I plop into a plasticky chair in the waiting room, I try to settle down, but there’s like this F5 tornado forming in my throat. Ok, me, give the poor doctor a break, no harm, no foul. But suddenly, and very rudely I might add, a voice shouts, “Horse shit! Kick his ass out the door on this one. You almost died!” Huh? Who said that? My eyes dart around the room. I’m anxious to nail the perpetrator. But to my surprise, the other patients have their faces plastered to the inside of a magazine. Must be some pretty good shit, I mean stuff, they’re reading.
With considerable effort, I shake off my confusion, then sit back and think more about that rather loathsome voice. Sure sounds familiar. In fact, I could swear I've heard that voice before! But I take another peek around the room, just in case the guilty party is ready to own up to the little outburst. Nope. All is as before. Well, somebody in this room has a major problem.
Another few minutes pass. Then . . . without warning, I bolt upright as I remember exactly when and where I'd heard that voice before! Six weeks earlier.  
I’m in a hospital recovery room, a bit disoriented after delivering child number three by a very unplanned C-Section. Suddenly . . . I lose consciousness and find myself staring into a yawning black hole coming toward me like some trick ceiling about to lower a crushing blow to its hapless victim. I begin to wonder where the bright light is because it’s apparent to me the tunnel of death is about to kiss my sweet sugar bee lips. Well, until . . . a voice from out of nowhere shouts, “Just great! Like I’m goin’ there. Ain’t happenin’. Oh, and God, or whoever the hell you are? Take the bright lights shit with you too, along with the happy angel escort!” And just as soon as one might say, I really don’t want to die now, I abruptly awake to the sound of a nurse exhaling in relief.
Le sigh of relief of my own as I struggle back to the present. But the relief doesn't last long. That strange little voice, so childlike in tone, yet so alpha-male aggressive in lexicon, unnerves me. I ask my husband if he heard anything out of the ordinary. He says no. I tap my temple like it’s a TV and I’m playing with the power button. I watch my right foot swing back and forth, sometimes fast, sometimes not. Shifting in my chair to stop the damn foot, I find myself starting to get really annoyed. Not only with the voice—the waiting is driving me nuts. Doctors’ offices. Sheesh. Mentally I read the sign I’d like to put on the wall next to the receptionist’s desk: Please take a seat in our torture chamber exclusively designed for your waiting pleasure. We’ll be with you as soon as we can, but remember that time has no meaning here, unless you, the patient, are late.
Ok, so I guess I’ll use the agony of waiting productively and rehearse the speech I’ve prepared for Dr. L&D that goes something like . . . YOU’RE FIRED! It’s the abbreviated version, but needs the most practice. Of course, I’m pretty sure I’ll puke up my nerve, and end up saying nothing, or, I’ll say just the opposite of what I intended.
When my doc finally comes strolling in on the second leg of my waiting journey, the patient cubicle, he glances at the baby, smiles, takes off his stethoscope and crams it into his pocket. What’s with docs who shuck the old scope as soon as they walk into the room? It’s not as if they aren’t going to use it in the next half-second. Is it a nervous tic? A bold power move? What? . . . Oh shut up, I tell myself. Focus.
Dr. L&D politely asks how I’m doing as he takes my vitals. I hesitate, because now I'm thinking, don’t even start bitching, lady. You’ll lose a good doctor. Hmm . . . isn’t that the point? My mouth sure thought so. Without asking me, it plows ahead in a veritable torrent of words. “Well, I was wondering how you could possibly have missed the breech that resulted in an emergency C-section and an anesthetic drug overdose which left me nearly dead and in a stupor for two days!” Shit! Mouthpalm! 
Doc takes a giant step back, proceeded by a sharp intake of breath that slices me in half. The, is she going to sue me, wheels are bouncing off the walls of his mind, I can tell. With calculated coldness he replies, “It’s not unusual for a baby to turn at the last moment, and in your case that’s what happened. And I certainly didn’t realize you were having trouble. Nobody mentioned anything to me before I left the hospital. Was there a problem?”
I start to speak when I’m rudely interrupted. “Problem? No, Doc. Really. I enjoyed my near permanent cruise to heaven. You moron!”
I blink. Oh dear Lord, please let there be a bar of soap I can shove right into my piehole! But luckily for me, Dr. L&D doesn’t seem to have taken it badly at all. In fact, he’s staring at me like he’s waiting for a reply. It finally dawns on me that the voice hadn’t flown out of my disloyal mouth like some demonic plane bent on revenge. So, I stammer a bit as I explain what happened post-op, and how difficult that had made the recovery, both physically and emotionally.
He nods sympathetically. “Emergency c-sections can be a really big shock, so I understand what you’re saying. As I said before, sometimes, and for reasons we don’t fully understand, the baby turns at the very last minute. At that point, I have to make a quick decision, before the baby goes into distress. Anyway, if you’re having residual anxiety about the delivery I’ve got a therapist here in the office you can talk to.”
Ok, the guy’s sincere. That’s obvious. I tell myself to back off and take the help that’s being offered. “Ok, sure, I’ll do that, Dr. L&D. Thank you.” We finish up the exam, but Mr. Warmth is gone. Doctors don't like being questioned. That pisses me off again. Maybe my close call could have been prevented. I decide to retrieve the hospital records. 
But first things first. I reluctantly walk up to the receptionist to get the therapist’s card, because something’s jamming my mind around with not-so-subtle messages that far more has gone wrong than just a bad delivery.