Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What If

My head felt empty. For several hours yesterday, I had forced every question right out of it. I, who love knowing things, mentally took each "what if" captive and wrestled it somewhere below my brain stem. I could not afford to stop and think. I had to act and act fast.
We thought it was food poisoning...when my 17-year-old began to feel ill Sunday night. He and his dad and grandmother had been to a soccer tournament in Indianapolis. Prior to his game, they ate a mother's day brunch at a local restaurant. Jack had sausage gravy and biscuits.
When he got home, he said, "I don't feel so good."
"It must be the brunch," he said. "My stomach hurts. I took some Rolaids; but it didn't help."
By 9:00 PM, he was sitting on the floor, hunched over the toilet in his downstairs bathroom.
"Where does your stomach hurt?" I asked. He said it hurt right in the middle, around his navel.
He couldn't stop throwing up. I sat up with him all night. He would doze for an hour and then be up again, nauseated, vomiting. I kept checking his temp...not high at all; but he felt clammy.
The next morning, I went to work for half a day. The vomiting had slowed down; and he was sleeping. My mother-in-law said she would stay with him.
It was our first day of state assessment. I decided to administer the test and then leave my students with a sub for the afternoon. I could barely concentrate, handing out test booklets, reading the instructions, sharpening pencils, monitoring students. When my sub arrived, I hit the door running. Something nagged at the back of my mind. "What if..." I shut it down. The appointment with our family physician was at 1:00. I made my way across town. My son, still nauseated, sat in the passenger seat, a plastic garbage can between his knees.
The doctor also suspected food poisoning. He ordered a shot to help with the nausea. He pressed Jack's stomach. He didn't like Jack's reaction.
"I think we should do a CT scan," he said.
Insurance didn't agree.
I said, "Do it anyway." The what ifs were scratching at my brain, clawing their way in.
Jack drank the contrast; and we waited. The radiology tech performed the scan.
"Do you live near the hospital?" she asked.
The what ifs were screaming in my ears.
I did not need the tech to explain. I knew she could tell me very little until the doctor read the scan. I made eye contact with her. She held out a piece of paper and asked me to write my cell phone number down...again.
Jack and I got into the car.
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"To the hospital," I said.
"But the doctor hasn't called yet," he said.
"Just to be safe," I said. The what ifs were so loud, my voice sounded muffled in my own ears.
The doctor called as I was pulling into the hospital parking lot.
"It's a hot appendix," he said. "They're waiting for him in surgery."
The what ifs drowned out the directions the registrar gave me.
"Can you just walk us there?" I asked. I must have looked desperate. I could see her mouth moving, telling me how to get around the hospital; but I could not understand.
She walked us to surgery.
Hours and prayers later, we are home again...just released from the hospital. The emergency appendectomy was a success. The surgeon removed Jack's appendix before it ruptured. Jack feels so much better. He says he feels like he could take off running...
"Not for three weeks," the doctor says.
I thank God for the power of prayer and the power to stifle those crippling what ifs. I thank God my son is okay.


  1. Immediately I thought appendix as I was reading this. Yikes! What a scare! You kept me on the edge of my seat, barely breathing until I knew it was all okay. I have always worried that a gut pain might be an appendix attack.

  2. So glad everything worked out well and your son in fine. I can so relate to this because I had the same experience when I was in fifth grade.

  3. Wow! This is some intense writing. I connected with your corralled panic and worry at a visceral level. I don't want to tell you how appalled I was about the insurance and the scan... I'm so glad everything turned out ok. Good luck!

  4. A mother's intuition is a precious thing. Glad everything worked out for the best! What a scare!

  5. So scary. So very scary. The What Ifs are so crippling, but they are obviously placed on our minds for a reason... Blessings for a swift recovery!

  6. This had me on the edge of my seat...so scary. So glad he is better and you made it to the hospital in time. Your mother's intuition was right on.

  7. Oh boy...I'm glad that this had a happy ending. Speedy recovery for your son!

  8. Oh boy...I'm glad that this had a happy ending. Speedy recovery for your son!

  9. Whoa. What a tense retelling, Lori. All the best to Jack -- now & in 3 weeks.