Scenes before the Italian restaurant

“It’s going to be uncomfortable.”

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. Uncomfortable is sweating on a train platform in sweltering NYC August. Uncomfortable is blistered feet on the second day of a weeklong trip to Rome. Uncomfortable is a scorched mouth after drinking scalding hot chocolate.

Somehow these procedures are never just uncomfortable.

Today was a trip to Long Island for an IUD. Well, technically the border of Long Island and Queens. Long Island Jewish Medical Center sits in both. The gynecology/obstetrics clinic is on the Queens side. But Queens sounds close. This trip requires a trip on the Long Island Railroad, so I’m claiming it. Toto, we’re definite not in Kansas, anymore.

The clinic is a teaching clinic for residents. They see Medicaid and uninsured patients.

The resident thoroughly explained the procedure, the pros and cons, the alternatives, and the life of the IUD.

When I asked about pain, she said it would be uncomfortable. But it would be over relatively quickly. When I asked about pain management and explained that I would have to take three modes of transportation to get home, she offered Motrin, but said, “It doesn’t really do anything.”

I told her about getting an abortion with just a Valium. “That was definitely worse, then.”

“Wait a second. I have to ask you a question! Where do I go eat afterwards?” I anticipated being drained afterwards and wanted to treat myself. After some discussion, the resident, Dr. Cohen, suggested Dosa Hut for Indian. Luigi’s for Italian. Both in walking distance.

I got undressed and the resident returned with a supervising doctor and a nurse. The procedure was not uncomfortable. It was sob inducing.

I snapped my fingers. I held the nurse’s hand. I kept tensing in the stirrups.

And then the doctor announced, “Ok, now we’re going to insert the IUD.”

“Whaaaat?”

“Breathe deep,” the nurse said.

I don’t know how to describe how much it hurt. Only that the guttural howls that came out of my mouth were like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Not from me. Not from anyone else. They scared the part of me that hovered above the table.

The doctor expressed concern, but I couldn’t understand the words.

“It’s in,” the resident announced. “Should I cut the strings?”

The procedure was over but the cramping didn’t stop. The supervising doctor had a sonogram machine brought in. “Your uterus is extremely tilted. That’s why it was so painful.”

He then went to explain that the IUD placement was not optimal and I’d need to follow up with the imaging clinic and blah blah blah because how could I listen when I was crying and cramping? He kept asking me questions and I just kept saying, “I don’t have any words.”

The supervising doctor left. The nurse left. The resident said something about a referral and was about to leave when I called her back. “Is that it? Can I leave?”

“Oh, yeah.” She suddenly realized I was still on the examining table halfway up in the air with my legs in the stirrups. “Here, let me lower the table.”

A nurse knocked on the door and came in. I was half dressed and bracing the counter. Still crying, I told myself again and again, “It’s over. The hard part’s over. You did it. You made it through.”

She rattled off instructions about the Motrin and asked if I’d eaten.

“No,” I replied without even looking at her. “But let me ask a question. Italian or Indian?”

“Me?”

“No,” I laughed at my own bad communication. “For food. Where would you go if you were me?”

“Italian. For sure. Luigi’s.”

I finished getting dressed and collected my things. I asked the nurses who were tired at the end of what was presumably a long day how to contact the doctor after the imaging I’d be getting. They told me to call the same number I’d been calling for over a week without getting through to the previous doctor who’d left me a garbled message.

“Can you help me with that? I have problems with the phone and I can’t seem to navigate the menu to get help.” That words came out at all surprised me. That I could form a sentence stunned me.

The nurse who’d brought me the Motrin got it. “Here, I’m going to make it easy.”

She wrote down the direct extension to the nurse’s desk at the clinic.

I cried one more time when I checked out at the front desk. There were supposed to be referrals and no one knew if they were printed or if they existed or whom I was supposed to call. The lady at the desk kept asking me questions and I didn’t have words. Just pain.

I sat in the waiting room as she figured it out. I left with two more referrals to call and manage another day. I left the hospital and I walked to Luigi’s.

Try the handmade pappardelle with eggplant if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

It’s over. For today.

Deep breaths.

Cent’Anni. May you live for a 100 years.

On my walk from the clinic to the restaurant

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