If you haven’t read Thrombosis Summer Part One, I’d recommend scrolling down a bit or clicking here to get caught up.
The night after my doctor’s appointment, I went to bed more relaxed than I had been in a while. There was something comforting about all my tests coming back positive. For the first time in years, I went to sleep without the niggling fear that I might not wake up the next day.
Good night. Sleep Tight. And pleasant dreams to me.
The next morning, I woke up with a cramp in my right leg. Nothing too severe; I walked it off by the time I made it to the bathroom, where my fully functioning (according to medical science) kidneys performed as advertised. I limped back to the bedroom for another hour of shuteye, feeling my calf muscle loosen with every step.
A typical Friday morning.
Once I made it to the store, I reported my doctor’s findings to my co-workers, relishing their stunned looks as I recited my passing scores. I finished my account with the ominous prediction that, “Now, I’ll either get hit by a bus, or have a heart attack.”
I was only joking at the time, but I should have never spoken those words aloud. We cynics know the danger of putting ideas into the universe’s mind. You never –ever- utter the words “it can’t get any worse” because the entity in charge of making things worse sees that as a challenge, and immediately rearranges the cosmos in order to prove you wrong.
Don’t believe me? Consider yourself lucky.
On Saturday morning, I awoke with another cramp. Same leg, same spot. Same trip to and from the bathroom. Same result. Except…
The cramp didn’t go away as quickly, and I felt the ghost of its discomfort long after it should have dissipated. Throughout the day, I’d notice the cramp threatening to return, only to have it vanish once it saw I was paying attention. ‘Twas a sneaky little thing, this recurrent cramp.
On Sunday, I had made my morning foray to the porcelain oasis and back before noticing the cramp in my leg had taken the day off. My amazement at discovering a malady that observed the Sabbath was followed by the realization that my yard was quickly becoming a tropical forest. After a pot of coffee and a bagel (my half-hearted paean to continued cardiovascular health), I fired up the mower and attacked the two-thirds acre lot surrounding our house.
Just as the cramp had intended.
By the time I finished, the cramp was back, making me pay for my morning comfort. It laughed as I hobbled around the living room. It roared as I attempted to thwart it with a heating pad. It called its friends and invited them over to see how easily it had crippled the fat forty-six year-old with a clean bill of health.
I put on a brave face for my wife and daughter, refusing to let them see the amount of pain I was in. Had it not been for my photocopied test results, I might have been worried, but I had a paper testifying to my physical fitness. I even tried using the doctor’s report as an exorcism tool, but the cramp ignored it and clamped down harder as punishment for my insolence.
Monday started out fine, but only because the cramp didn’t have to wake up as early as I did. It didn’t have to clock in until noon, while I had to be at work by eight. But, by the time both of Mickey’s hands pointed to twelve, the cramp was on the job, making my every motion a new adventure in pain. I also discovered the cramp didn’t mind a little overtime, plying its trade long after the rest of the world had called it a day.
Monday night was the first time my wife mentioned the idea of going to the hospital, a suggestion I vetoed without any consideration. “It’s a cramp,” I told her. “It’s a sneaky bitch, but that’s all it is. I’ll be fine in a couple of days.” That was for the benefit of both Rhonda and the cramp. I figured if it knew I was considering medical options for its annihilation, it might decide to move on.
My wife remained undeterred. On Tuesday evening, after enduring another day of excruciating pain,
Rhonda informed me that if things hadn’t improved by the time she came home Wednesday, we were going to the Emergency Room. “Emergency Schmergency,” I said. It’s been my experience that a visit to the ER results in only two things: A hundred dollar insurance co-pay and a prescription for medication only slightly more powerful than what’s available over the counter. Plus, there’s the added aggravation of mingling with the great unwashed and uninsured who treat the emergency room as a free clinic.
Huh-uh. Not for me.
Wednesday morning dawned with a kiss from my wife and a promise to call her with regular updates as to the condition of my leg. I rolled over and went back to sleep, confident that a few more hours of slumber would leave me refreshed and healed.
The cramp had other ideas.
I finally rolled out of bed and continued rolling until I hit the floor. The dog and I were equally startled by my impromptu gymnastics. The floor was usually her domain, and while she might have appreciated the company, I was more concerned with my right leg’s inability to support me.
The swelling and red racing stripe running down the middle of my shin didn’t make me feel any better.
I hobbled to the bathroom, did a one-legged potty jig, hopped down to the living room and collapsed into my recliner, where I could better examine my ailing appendage. Now, I’m not a doctor, but my cursory inspection left me with one inescapable conclusion: This wasn’t good. This was so beyond good I was tempted to call 911 and request that Randy Mantooth and Kevin Tighe roll out of Rampart with a six-pack of IV with Ringers.
Instead, I called Rhonda and suggested she might want to investigate the possibility of leaving work early to cart my “medically verified as healthy” ass to the ER. She received my request for transport with the same incredulity she exhibited when I reported the results of my blood work; to her mind, if I was asking to go to the hospital –despite my assurances to the contrary- there was probably blood flowing from every orifice I possessed.
She made it home within an hour.
I showed her my leg. She made that scrunchy face that usually only appears when I do my nekkid sexy dance (but this time there was no laughter) and hustled me out to the car. What did I think was wrong? she asked as we traveled. “There can’t be anything wrong,” I said. “I’ve got a clean bill of health.”
The triage nurse wasn’t impressed.
Mercifully, the ER was relatively empty when we arrived, probably due to the fact that the local Jerry Springer/Maury Povich programming block was in full swing (“Hold this paper towel over that cut till Mama finds out if Jerome is the Baby Daddy. Then I’ll take you to the hospital. And while you’re in there, get me another Klondike Bar.”).
After I provided the requisite personal data and insurance information, the nurse asked the reason for my visit. Because I had been smart enough to wear shorts, I merely pointed at my leg. As a professional, she managed to partially mask her reaction, but I know a scrunchy face when I see one, and I hadn’t even attempted my nekkid sexy dance.
No three hour wait for Steve and his amazing sausage leg with the NASCAR racing stripe. I was stripped, gowned and lying in an examination room within ten minutes of walking (or hobbling) into the hospital. The attending physician was the first visitor of the day to enter the room and make “mmm-hmmm” noises while perfectly imitating my wife’s scrunchy face. Unfortunately, “mmm-hmmm” was all the information any of them were willing to share.
Visitor number two came bearing a tackle box filled with little glass tubes. I balked at this, explaining I had recently completed a comprehensive blood test, the results of which were lying on my kitchen counter. The phlebotomist didn’t seem to care. She had jugs to fill, and I was the tap.
By the end of the hour, I was a freaking spigot, and nobody had even examined my leg yet. But, I could hear the cramp laughing.
But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .
To be continued…