It was around this time 24 hours ago when I decided I needed to go to the emergency room. Not exactly the decision I would’ve made if I were on my own. It meant that we had to load the little ones in the car, and I just didn’t feel quite up to disturbing their peaceful slumber.
About 45 minutes before deciding to go, I started experiencing excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. Each person’s tolerance for pain is different. We know this. Let me paint a picture of my pain quickly here. When I said excruciating, I meant that it felt like I was having another baby. You will understand this if you’ve had a baby and know what labor contractions are like. If not, let me see if I can explain better. It felt like 12 dozen sharp knives repeatedly stabbing at my insides while giant muscular hands wring my lower torso like it was a piece of washcloth. Let’s just say that it was so painful; I was crying like a big, fat baby. At that point, I had already called my doctor, and I had to decide whether I need or want to go to the ER or not. It became more of a necessity really because of things that occurred days before the fact. I was really worried. Really, really worried…not just for myself but also for my family.
I just had a baby a couple of months ago. Part of my recovery plan was a check up at 6 weeks postpartum to make sure that I’ve healed properly. I checked out just right, so the doctor gave me clearance to go about with normal activities I couldn’t do such as heavy exercise, weight loss, and intercourse. I was ordered to have an ultrasound a month after for another check up. Long story short, as I was doing my ultrasound, the tech asked me if I was experiencing any right-sided lower abdominal pain. I didn’t think much of it as most pain is tolerable to me. But in retrospect, I had been feeling slight pain in my lower abdomen on both sides but more so on my right, especially after doing exercise. I dismissed it as nothing. The tech said nothing. I was all good. But her remarks stuck with me. And so, I paid closer attention to whatever pain I felt from then on. I really meant to call the doctor to make sure my ultrasound was negative. Then last night happened and off to the ER I went. The last place I would ever want to be.
The pain quietly lingered as I waited; although, it subsided greatly at that point. It became more of an achy discomfort. Got my vitals done. Got a room and a stretcher to lie on. Saw the nurse and the student doctor. Explained what happened. Then the ultrasound tech came to pick me up, and she wheeled me around the corner into the testing area. She did my test and asked me if I could wait for her outside the testing room so she can type up her report. I said ok, and she wheeled me and locked me just outside the door.
I lay there silently. I thought to myself how much I trust the healthcare system. I trust medical science and medical technology. Apparently, with my life. Then I got to thinking about how much of our lives do we really hand over to other people to be handled. Going to the bank. Buying groceries. Dining out in a restaurant. Shopping for clothing. Going to the doctor or the dentist. Living in your house or apartment. These are all routine things we normally don’t give second thought to. Bank tellers know everything financial about you and in a way, control your finances. Grocers manage everything you buy for your house, from things that clean it to things that have expiration dates. Chefs and servers know what goes into whatever food is ordered when dining out. Clothing manufacturers decide on the quality of materials used to put together whatever you put on your back. Doctors and dentists obviously monitor health and wellness. And construction workers and engineers and land developers are the ones who know how strong your shelter really is. Etc. Etc. Etc.
It dramatically outlines our connectivity as people living and sharing this one world. It highlights our necessity for assistance and the fact that we can’t live our lives on our own. In a way, we need other people to handle various areas in our lives. It takes trust and accountability and responsibility to be on either side of the matter: to take care of someone else and at the same time be taken care of. Sometimes, we even have to take care of strangers. No matter what profession or job or role it is, each person on this earth has one. And the question really is, how well does one do it? Are you a physician dedicated to handle the overall wellbeing of your patients? Or are you a hotel manager focused on providing the best hotel experience for that one particular couple on their honeymoon? Are you a legislator committed to the best interests of the nation? Or are you a mother whose sole priority in life is that of her children’s? Whatever hat you have on today casts a shade not just for yourself but also for many other people. We are our brothers’ keepers. We are a part of each other’s lives, knowingly or unknowingly. It’s such an awe to realize that the bond we share in humanity may not be separated by a distant six degrees but rather by a solid one. One degree of separation. Between you and me. I may not know you, but you might affect me someday, somehow. I may innocently pass you on the street now, but in our passing, I might have to handle your life in some way, somehow. Wouldn’t it be just beyond wonderful if we all cared?
I had a cyst. I say ‘had’ because it ruptured last night. The cyst that was in my right ovary is now just a collection of free-flowing fluid. It turned out I’ve also got another cyst on my left ovary. It isn’t a matter of life or death, and I prayed so hard that it wasn’t. Turned out, ovarian cysts are quite normal. They’re just supposed to shrink on their own, or sometimes, they burst. Mine did. And it was tough pain to endure, but I’m overjoyed that it was what it was and nothing worse. I’m so grateful for all the people who took care of me last night. My love who sat next to me the entire time. His parents who came over in record-breaking time of 15 minutes to watch the kids. Security at the ER entrance for keeping us safe. The nurses who took my vitals and gave me medication. The student doctor for learning to be the best at what he does. The ultrasound tech whose report could’ve gone amiss but did not. The doctor who patiently answered my many questions on cysts and what entails having them. And my children who are just the best reasons for living life and living it to the fullest.
It really took that kind of late-night trip to evoke such thoughtful gratitude in me. Appreciate the world and your role in it. Appreciate humanity despite its many flaws. Because someone truly appreciates you…despite yours.