Here’s a funny story for you that involves pistachios, strange men fumbling with my bra and the emergency room.
Yesterday afternoon, a coworker shared some pistachios, which I delighted in . I love those nuts – the shelling makes you work a bit, which makes you appreciate the meat even more. About twenty minutes after eating them, I called Diene to tell him I was staying late for a meeting at work and he asked me if I had a cold, because I sounded stuffed up. In fact, I did feel stuffy and congested, which was strange because I hadn’t only a few minutes before. The palms of my hands had begun to itch, too. Diene has always told me this is a sign of money coming your way. (Score!) This seemed right, because a new student had just enrolled in my Online Grant Writing Class. I hung up dreaming of all the great things my cash cow would bring.
A few minutes later, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and face, which was growing itchier by the minute. I looked in the bathroom mirror and was horrified. My forehead was swollen, giving me a Neanderthal brow, and my nose had ballooned to Walter Matheau in Grumpier Old Men proportions. I go back to my office where two coworkers and I vacillated between laughing at my instant double chin and facial lines and wondering if we should call 911. I call the Nurse-on-Call, who tells me she’ll call back in 15 minutes.
While I wait for her call, hives start breaking out on my face, arms, back, and legs. One coworker goes to buy me benadryl while the other fill medical gloves with ice to put on my skin to relieve the itching. Its becoming a bit difficult to talk and breathe, but I am not sure if this is because I am nervous or because my tongue and throat are swelling. The nurse calls back and tells me I need to get to Urgent Care immediately. (Thanks for giving me 15 critical minutes wait time to tell me hurry up and save my life.) On our way to my coworker’s car, we pass the other who is coming in with the Benadryl.
At Urgent Care in Sun Prairie, where small town charm and friendliness prevail, they pump me with drugs – adrenaline, steroids, and zyrtec. The adrenaline and steroids makes my heart feel like I have been outrunning a tiger for two miles. The friendly doctor tells me I need to go the Emergency Room at Saint Mary’s in Madison and they call an ambulance. I call Diene for the second time to tell him to meet me at the hospital. Apparently, the cash cow is waiting for me in Room 27 at Saint Mary’s.
I’m wheeled to the ambulance, which feels ridiculously indulgent, where two EMTs try to start an IV, but can’t because of my small (I prefer “dainty”) veins. One hooks me up to a heart monitor (bra exposure #1) while the other drives. After a few minutes, my face starts feeling funny and my whole body is itchy again. The EMT successfully inserts the IV and gives me some benadryl intravenously. I learn the technical term for the Caveman Look is facial edema.
By the time we get to the hospital, I am feeling much better. I still have to be hooked up to a heart and pulse monitor, which requires 28-year-old-male-smarmy-lab-tech to take off my shirt and bra (exposure #2) . Dude spent like four minutes trying to get the thing unhooked, with both hands working! The whole time I couldn’t help but wonder how much worse his performance would be under other circumstances. Say, with dim lighting, one hand preoccupied, and localized edema of his own body parts. This makes me smile and then Diene walks in and I know everything is going to turn out all right.
The night left me feeling grateful for so much. Kind coworkers. People who handle crises with a calm, reassuring demeanor. Easy access to emergency health care. Health insurance. Watching the world go by from the back of an ambulance knowing its not as serious as the people in the cars next to us might think. Not eating any pistachios on any of my trips away from home over the past few months. The wonder of the human body’s temperament, which apparently can simply decide it no longer likes pistachios. The flexi straw (for easy drinking while hooked up to tubes and wires). The fact that 60% of my medical care came from cute men my age. Diene knowing how to get to St. Mary’s. The epipen (which I now have to take with me everywhere I go.) And, last but not least, having my camera in my purse so I could share this beauty of a photo with you.