I knew the pain was bad when he woke up early in the afternoon, not long after going to sleep, after being at work all night. He texted to say he was having bad stomach pain, and I rushed upstairs to find him pacing the hall — his eyes squeezed shut. This was definitely not a run-of-the-mill cramp.
“Appendix!” I thought immediately. Except I knew nothing about a person’s appendix, really, except that sometimes they burst or rupture or something. I Googled “appendix pain” and it showed someone clutching their right-hand side in agony. Ah-ha!
I wanted to rush him straight to the ER, but he wasn’t convinced. So I called 811, the medical advice line, knowing they’d tell us to go and figuring he’d listen to them. (A great resource, but I could call 811 complaining of a papercut and they’d suggest going to the ER to have it checked.)
Fifteen minutes later, we were zooming off to the hospital. He was triaged quickly and marked as “urgent.” He was in too much pain to sit down so he paced, occasionally doubling over. People kept shooting him nervous looks. He was pale and sweaty and the pain intensified until he refused to leave the bathroom because he didn’t wait to make a scene in the waiting area.
It didn’t take long for him to be hurried into a room and I couldn’t help but have major flashbacks. Almost exactly eight years earlier, it had been me in the johnny shirt — flailing and twisting at the toe-curling pain. It was all so familiar. The moaning. The scrunched-up face. The throwing up from the pain.
Except this time, I wasn’t in the bed. I was the one with the useless cold compress and the nervous reassurance. I was the one holding the basin and offering sips of water. I was the helpless spouse on the sidelines who couldn’t do anything to take the pain away from the person I love most in the world.