If you have bruises on your body that don’t hurt and they appear overnight, complete with a throat that looks like a meat tenderizer ran over it but it doesn’t hurt either, which you wondered about two days prior when you should “worry about” this bruise on the top of your hand that is like the full size of the back of your hand and you’re in a meeting at work and you say, “I wonder when I should worry about this” out loud to the room… yeah, like then. Worry right then.
That was the beginning of a quick little turn of health called ITP - or Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Four days of steroids intravenously at the hospital and lots of steroids at home kicked this disorders butt back in my 40′s. No problem. I even remember telling my doctor that I “made it go away” by talking to my spleen telling it to stop eating my platelets. I told it it got it wrong, that the computer in my body had the wrong signals, please rewrite it and stop it already. I thanked it for playing, then felt a tingly sensation in my spleen area. I surmised that it was the electrical reworking itself as requested.
My doc said to stay on the steroids. Both worked.
This time it was a ball inside my abdomen which I only started to feel when I was “planking” during a workout. I laid back over on my back and pushed it around, this ball or thing inside. Pushing on it, it felt like a sausage, not a ball and it moved. It didn’t hurt either. You know when the doc says “does this hurt?” and you’re like, “no”. It was like that… without the doc.
I started to ask around, asking what clogged intestines feel like. I got advice to have coconut oil. So I did. It made the shape move, I think. I didn’t feel it again. Nice.
But this phrase did start playing in my head but just a little bit - like a
feather-wispy-bit floating around my netherworld. “When are you going to
My netherworld was really complicated at the time. I run a charity for vandals who do graffiti in the streets. I live with my co-founder, a 29 year old artist mural mentor dude from NYC and a host of creative kids who crash on my couch or sleep in my son’s room. It’s a constantly changing home environment dedicated to keeping kids in action making art. My daughter had also just come home for the first time in five years with a new boyfriend - right, they were sleeping in my son’s room. My co-founder was in hers.
The intestinal blockage came back, only this time it was on a different side and suddenly much bigger. Close to my belly button. More planking indicated that it was a nice size so I’d roll over and push at it. Hmmm. It still doesn’t hurt. I decide to call my nurse friend. She’s convinced it’s a hernia and that I am a super human for not being in pain.
I’ve given birth without drugs so I buy this and wonder what the deal is when you have a hernia…cuz ya see, I work 24/7.
One morning, while walking around the property surveying the art that was made the night before, I decide to ask my co-founder, “So, how are you with health things?” “What do you mean?” he says. I say, “I think there might be something wrong with me.” His dad’s a doctor so he says, “I go to the fucking doctor that‘s what I do. If I’m hurt or sick. I go to the person who fixes that, otherwise I would be stupid.” We’re not stupid over here.
But, we are very very underfunded. We don’t have healthcare and by we I mean me. And I’m on food stamps too. Running a charity is a public service… I make a call. A dear man-child helps me, takes over where I can’t see the system and literally hands me Medi-Cal. Puts it in my back pocket and tells me to go to the doctor. I call my OB from years and a child ago… I don’t get sick much.
An ultrasound I am sure is all I need. How much? $350. Hmmm. Cash. They don’t take Medi-Cal. So I share the news of my plan to go get an ultrasound with a fancy friend and she insists that we go to her doctor. I know to say okay because in my past life I would have been going to a fancy doctor too. And I know she means it. She does that.
We talk, the doctor and I. She comes in out of breath from her own doctor’s appointment or a flight from Nepal, we aren’t ever sure. The story gets retold a few times. I assert that whatever it is, “it’s benign”, to which the doctor says, “I haven’t said that” like an education gives him divine providence. “Lay back” he says. But I assure, “I can’t guarantee that I won’t pee. This thing is pressing on my bladder.” Back I go, he presses on my stomach for all of two seconds and says “OH YEAH, this has to come out.”