Why I’m a Mere Mortal & Jon Might Be a Wizard

E-mail inbox notwithstanding, these days I’ve been feeling a bit like a superhero mom. Laurel finally has adjusted to kindergarten, I get lunches made the night before, I’ve managed to squeeze in a lot of work in limited hours (about 20% less hours than when Laurel was in pre-school...), I’ve given up coffee, and I’ve been rocking my running challenge. And then came Monday.

Actually, it was really Sunday when things started. After dinner I started feeling tightness and discomfort in my abdomen. My initial thought was that I ate one too many quesadilla slices and left it at that. I felt uncomfortable going to bed but eventually fell asleep.

On Monday morning I felt fine. I had a fantastic run (hitting 30 minutes for the first time!). I proceeded through the day with no problems and then in the late afternoon, my stomach started hurting. A lot. Laurel and I were out on errands and I was struggling to keep up with her. By the time we got home I was in a bad way. The next several hours were excruciating. The pain was so intense I couldn’t stand up straight, but I had to go about the business of getting dinner ready and making Laurel’s lunch, so I did all of this slowly, in Hunchback of Notre Dame style. I also needed to assure Laurel I wasn’t dying (I wasn’t totally sure about that one...I especially started to freak out when I read up on appendicitis) while trying to figure out what to do.

Now, I consider myself a reasonably smart person. I have a Ph.D. (though I've met complete idiots who managed to go through the hoops to get a Ph.D.) and experience in the medical field (my last stop of traditional employment was a joint appointment for my postdoctoral fellowship at Mass. General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and MIT). Yet I was totally flailing. Since Jon left corporate we now buy our own insurance and I had no idea how much it would cost to go to the ER, much less which ER to go to (i.e., which ones are particularly sucky or awesome). I tried calling our insurance help line but it was closed. I called my mother because that felt like the right thing to do and she suggested I take charcoal tablets (perhaps it was just a really, really bad case of gas). I called my brother Jason (an aspiring doctor), who was absolutely wonderful re: action and ER recommendation (for the record, he said that Mt. Auburn Hospital – which I have bad associations with since that is where my father died – has a stellar ER). I talked to the doctor on call at my PCP’s office for a formal recommendation, which was the same as my brother's: to stay home because it didn’t sound like appendicitis, to make an appointment to see a doctor the following day, and to go to the ER if my symptoms got worse.

After I got Laurel to bed, I sunk into the couch for the next couple of hours – incapable of finding a comfortable position – trying to find good TV to distract me (fail) while waiting for Jon to return from his trip to Las Vegas. Finally, at about 10:30pm he walked in the door. He was exhausted but immediately responsive and sat and talked about my symptoms and actions while I writhed in pain. Then, at one point he reached out to take my hand while we talked and within about 5-10 minutes, the pain started to melt away.

Now, who knows what affected what. Maybe it was simply time passing. Maybe it was the charcoal tablets kicking in (though of course I realized they were expired right after swallowing a couple). But at the risk of sounding a little crazy hippie, Jon is someone who definitely is more in tune with the universe and its energy flow and all that. I wouldn't be tremendously surprised if somehow he managed to drain the bad ab mojo out of me. The pain I experienced for most of the afternoon and evening was very real, yet not long after connecting with him, I was able to stand straight up for the first time in several hours and the severe pain in my upper right abdomen subsided to a dull ache.

Clearly, he must be a wizard or something.

However, despite his seeming wizardry and our tendency against medical intervention, Jon (not to mention many of my friends on Facebook…) asked me to book an appointment to see a doctor. I procrastinated all day yesterday since I felt so much better than on Monday. But I’m still experiencing discomfort so I booked an appointment for tomorrow morning. There, done.

To be honest, I’m feeling a bit sad and emotional about this situation. In general, I don't fear aging or even death, but it feels a little odd that this is happening right after my birthday, and at a time where I have been working more than ever to encourage positive physical change for myself (not just for fitness; one of these days I'd like to get pregnant again...). For lack of better words, it feels like a kick in the stomach.

Jon thinks my body is trying to tell me something through this and he’s probably right. At the moment, I’m not thinking clearly enough to uncover (or face) exactly what that might be. But what is very clear is that I do feel like a mere mortal today.