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.