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January 27, 2021

Last Sunday was not a good day.

The Friday before, Louie and I had gotten our first shots of our Covid-19 vaccines. It was a pain-free experience in every way – short waiting time and friendly health professionals. “You’re already done? I didn’t feel a thing!” I told the doctor incredulously. Then the doc said with smiling eyes, “It all depends on who is giving it to you!”

It felt like a rite of passage getting our first shots. Our second shots are in mid-February.

By Saturday evening, the worst we were feeling was the expected tenderness on our arms where we got the shots.

Then came Sunday morning. I woke up perky as usual. But I also felt a bit constipated. Well, I tried “to go” all morning to no avail. And I was beginning to feel really full. I finally mentioned it to Louie as I was beginning to feel frustrated and tired. I decided to take a nap.

I woke up feeling rested. Louie wanted to be sure I was feeling okay before running an errand. We wondered if it was a side effect of the vaccine. “Go,” I told him. I’ll be fine.

Ah, home alone. I will try again with no distractions. Surely it will be fine. It HAS to.

Time passed as I sat on the throne. Soon, a hot flush overcame me. Still, no action. Then, I started trembling and my hands, including my wrists, started feeling tingly – something I’ve never experienced before. I imagined myself passing out.

I have high pain tolerance. I quickly wondered how long I could carry on this bravery. Then, a text came in on my phone. It was Jacqueline asking how I was feeling. Not good, Babe. I decided to give it another “try” before putting out an SOS.

By this time, I was a basket case and physically exhausted, barely able to lift my head. I tried to text her back (silly me), but I couldn’t even grab the phone as it dropped onto the rug in front of my feet. I really felt like I was losing it and pressed the one key to call her.

Thoughts rushed through my mind: my poor daughter is about to hear her mother in distress for the first time. She answered. I was barely able to say, “Can you come home? I feel really bad…” Calm as a clam, she said she was only a few minutes away. She kept me on the phone so that I could keep talking. In my misery, I was so proud of her taking full control of the situation. Meantime, she could hear me heave a couple of times, although nothing came up. Nice.

She walked through the door, came straight to the bathroom, and comforted me, feeling my sweaty back. I need to take you to urgent care, Mom. She instructed me to stay sitting as she put out calls, first to her Telehealth contact, then my general doctor that went into voice mail, and finally urgent care. Then she called Louie to tell him that we were leaving for urgent care that was a few minutes away. He said he would meet us there.

Jacqueline moved stealth-like gathering together blankets, my cell phone, my purse, which she put in the car before coming for me. As she helped me onto my feet in the bathroom, I said, I need to brush my hair! She took one look at me, grabbed a baseball cap from the hat rack and plopped it onto my head. It’s your good luck hat, she told me. I didn’t argue.

I laid in the back seat of the car underneath the comfort of two blankets. At urgent care, my vitals were taken in the parking lot. No fever and my blood pressure was normal. By then, I was feeling more coherent. But they told me I would have to go to ER at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.

Crowded ER? Oh no! But we had no choice.

It was blissful stepping through the ER doors, if such a thought is possible. Only one person was sitting in the large waiting area that was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Outside was a row of white tents with hospital staff in full PPE at the ready for arriving Covid patients. But I was directed through the doors for non-Covid individuals.

My vitals were immediately taken, and I waited just a few minutes before seeing a doctor. A CT scan was considered to check for possible blockage, but when they saw I had no abdominal pain and that my stomach was soft (not hard), it appeared an enema might do the job. The nurse said that I could do the enema at home for more privacy; however, if I wanted immediate relief, it could be done right there at the hospital. It took no time for me to reply, “I have no shame,” let’s do it!

Within a few minutes another nurse came in with the enema kit, that is, a soft plastic bottle filled with clear liquid topped with a cap designed with a long tip. She offered to assist, but said I could do it myself, if I wished. “It’s really easy,” the young nurse said.” You have to lay on your right side with your left knee bent. “…And it’s best to hold the enema in for at least 15 minutes so that the liquid can have time to soften the stool.”

Easy for you to say, were my thoughts. I decided to try my hand at it myself in case I need to do this at home in the future. If I needed help, “Just press the red button.” So, I glanced at the clock before inserting the enema.

This is interesting…

Three minutes had barely passed, and it was beginning to feel like an eternity. I kept squeezing the bottle of liquid but couldn’t tell how “well” I was doing. Oh well. I’ll just keep squeezing the bottle and watch the clock.

As soon as 15 minutes passed, I took to the portable throne next to my bed. Let’s just say that within minutes I felt like a million dollars.

Wow, I could have done this at home. The Dulcolax I had taken at home wasn’t working fast enough and I didn’t have Miralax that I used during my December colonoscopy prep. How I wished that I had bought more Miralax.

What started off as a terrible ordeal ended up being a surprisingly worthwhile couple of hours at Huntington Memorial ER. If I learned another new thing during Covid times, it’s that if there’s ever a good time to go to ER, it is now.

Thankfully, my condition turned out to be an easy fix. But before walking out the door and short of being overly confident, I snatched the leftover dispersible wipes on the bedside table.

Just in case.

This is your country, and it’s up to you to save it.” – English translation of a saying in Taiwan

Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives

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