Monday, January 26, 2015

Intestinal fortitude

Last week my intestines fell out.

And if that's not a conversation stopper, I don't know what the heck is.

I did not even know this was a possibility.  I had never even HEARD of this. That's the reason I'm writing about this, so other women will know A.) it can happen, OMFG!!!!! and B.) What to do when you find yourself looking at your own intestines. Here's a hint: running around the house screaming "What the F*CK should I DO!!?!" is not it.

I'm actually hoping for black humor as the tone of this piece. I don't know if I can pull it off, but that's what I'm trying for. Because really, I've tried balling up in a corner and sucking my thumb, and that didn't seem to do much.

So I was minding my own business in the bathroom, and I was sort of cleaning up, and Jesus, that doesn't feel right, and I looked between my legs, and there it was: a loop of my intestines, bright red, between my thighs.

It was a really surreal moment. "What the F*CK is THAT?!"

I since have been told that it could have been a uterine prolapse: that's when your uterus kind of turns inside out and tumbles out--or it could have been an intestinal prolapse, which is the same thing. Inside out and out your backside. Either way, may I say: EEEEEWWWWW!!

This turned out to be neither of those things. I had a full hysterectomy in August to clear up  this little ovarian cancer problem, so there was no uterus to fall out. Instead, my va-jay-jay, which had been sewn shut as there was nothing up there, tore. And my intestines said, "Hey, look, there's somewhere we've never been! Let's EXPLORE."

Holy God.

So here I am, erotic romance writer with her guts hanging out her naughty-bits. And for y'all who are thinking it's God's Judgement on me for being a Ho, let me say PBBBBTTTTT!!!

It was like being trapped in a horror movie. I went looking for somebody to help me. Half-nekkid, mind you. I didn't want to pull my pants on, because I figured cotton and red bits would be a bad combo. I knew my son had just left for school, and does not carry a cell. No way to contact him.  I went halfway up the stairs looking for my housemate James before I realized he must be at work. Lucky for him. I'm sure the sight of a 54-year-old half-naked woman with her intestines hanging out would have rendered the poor bastard impotent for the rest of his life.

I knew this, and I did not care. I was all, like, [Insert SAW-victim screech here.]

Now, I know there are those of you yelling "CALL 911, IDJIT!" Yeah, see how calm YOU are with your guts going walkabout.

Me, I was all like, "WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?!!" I wanted them back where they were supposed to be, and I figured there was something I should do. Problem is, no, there really wasn't.

Anyway, here's my guide to surviving your own personal splatter flick:

1.) Find phone

2.) Do not climb stairs or run around the house in a crouching position because it feels like someone is gutting you with a crochet hook.Running around is bad. Anything that contracts core muscles--and so encourages intestines to leave--is bad. I know this, because it's what I did for several moments of raw terror.

3.) Lie down.

4.) Call 911

5.) Stay there. Do not move. This is something you cannot fix.

My sister does CTs--that's CAT scans, to us mortals. She is always the voice of sanity whenever I'm losing what passes for my mind. I called her. No answer. Called my husband, the cop, who said he'd meet me at the ER. (I had finally called 911.)

I then called my gastric bypass surgeon's office. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi. I'm a patient of Dr. Ross's, and my intestines have fallen out. I would like him to put them back."

Loooooong pause.

"UH, he's out of town."

"Of COURSE he is. Because where else would he be when MY INTESTINES FELL OUT."

I love Dr. Ross. He is my doctor deity. He actually was in town, and I think he did consult on putting me back together.

Anyway, the Spirit of AUUGH! still had control of my brain, and I called my mother and said, "Mom, I need you. Intestines, dangling, ACK! Please come over!"

Now, there is no doubt I am going to hell for that phone call alone. There are several reasons for this. First, my mom hasn't driven a car since 1993; she developed a phobia, and can't drive. She's also morbidly obese, can barely walk, and uses a walker. Even though she lives about a block away, there was no way in hell she could get to me. And of course she's 76.

Fortunately, she was able to get my brother in law, who quickly arrived with my sister, Angela, AKA Saint Sanity. (I named my pen name after her. All my heroines are actually Angela. No matter what weird shit she has to contend with, she always handles it with level calm and an iron refusal to put up with any BS.)

With Angie there, I calmed down considerably. The paramedics arrived soon afterward, and loaded me up on a stretcher for my trip to the hospital.

By now, I had quit panicking and decided to Deal With It, even if "It" meant, you know, like, dying. Or something. Because really, I am 54 years old, not 14. So I had a verrrrrrrrry calm conversation about my current book, and writing romances, and OH SHIT, WHY IS MORE OF IT COMING OUT?! IS IT ALL COMING OUT? GET BACK IN THERE!!"

See, here's the thing, I was in pain, and my abs kept tightening, and every time they did, it encouraged my runaway bowels to go further and further. It felt unpleasantly like giving birth to a Burmese python.

I really want to thank that paramedic, even though I can't remember her name.

Got to the ER, where the attending trauma doc, whose name I again can't remember, gathered up my errant intestines and gently but firmly stuffed them back where they were supposed to be. I lay on my side with my jaws clenched shut and worked really, really hard on not deafening every human in the room by screaming my lungs out.

One of those humans was my dear husband, Mike. Mike has been a cop for 26 years, and has worked murders and car crashes and all kinds of god awful shit, but he had a ring-side seat to watching the doc work on me like somebody re-stuffing a Raggedy Anne, and this was something that freaked even him out. I gather he's currently every bit as shell-shocked as I am. He said it looked like a bright-red balloon animal the size of a grapefruit.

 I am told I was actually very calm by then. Calm, or just in psychic lockdown.

Anyway, my oncologist whisked me back upstairs and stitched me up, and my snaky bits are up where they belong, and please God, will stay there.

Somebody, trying to look on the bright side, pointed out that I now had a new experience I could write about in my books. I replied, "This kind of crap doesn't happen in my books."

So anyway, here's the cover of the newest book, which I just finished. Now I'm working on the next volume in the trilogy.

I also keep having these really disturbing flashbacks. This post is intended to help me recover from the experience. Thanks for taking a look at it.

And I hope to hell you never have the same experience. But if you do, at least you'll have heard of it, and you'll know what to do. Lying down and calling 911 is a very good idea.