I woke up in the middle of the night vomiting. Not feeling like I was going to vomit, but actually vomiting; my left breast felt like it was on fire, like it WAS fire. Mastitis - I knew immediately. Hot shower and after cleaning up, I stumbled back into bed, but couldn't get comfortable. I spent the night contorting my body, attempting to find a painless position.
In the morning I called Dr. Gold, arranged an appointment and then called off work. I looked in the mirror and could see the angry red place on my breast where an infection was obviously raging. It was about the size of a golf ball, but with a ragged ring around it like the corona of the sun. A hard knot too tender to really touch. Vomiting again. Fall back into bed. Angelita crying. I try to nurse her, but she pulls away.
Doctor Gold walks in, full of joy and swagger. I smile wanly and say that I think I have mastitis. When I show him my breast he cringes theatrically and says 'oh yes.' A scribble on a pad and I'm sent back out into the world.
A few days later I felt ready to return to work, and I did. For one day. And then again I awoke in the middle of the night, this time my head storming, wrapped in a tight band of agony. I fight with the headache, I negotiate with myself. I HAVE to go to work today. I've been out too many days to call off again. I won't get paid, I might get fired.
I shower and return to bed to rest for a moment.
I get up, dress and return to bed to rest for a moment.
Marcus tells me I should stay home and I argue that I've been out too many days. It will pass once I get up and about. And so I comb my hair and return to bed to rest for a moment.
I force myself up and into the car. We drive toward downtown and with each block my head seems to grow, being pushed from inside by the bright white pain circling my entire upper body. I am bent at the waist vomiting onto my feet. Marcus is shaking his head and with more than a small amount of disgust tells me that he won't let me go to work. He starts to turn the car around. I tell him that I need to at least go in to the office, to at least show them that I am sick. I can't get fired.
And then my hands and feet were clenching, my fingers curled up and useless. Have I been poisoned? Am I dying? I can't breathe properly and I am nearly covered in greenish, slick bile.
I AM TAKING YOU TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM!!! Shouts Marcus. You are NOT going to work. Angelita is crying in the back seat. I say nothing, but consent is obvious.
I try to walk into the emergency room, but my legs and feet do not work. Marcus drags me in with his arms under mine. The receptionist looks bored and the only movement she makes is with her eyes - she glaces at me and then motions us toward a chair. I find it difficult to sit up and I'm vomiting onto the floor, or more accurately, heaving onto the floor as I had long since exhausted the contents of my stomach. Marcus returns with Angelita whose eyes are wide and wet. Marcus is afraid. He is getting loud and nurses are starting to eye us, size us up.
I am finally placed on a bed. I still can't breathe and my heart is pounding now, pressing out on my chest. I feel too full - of pain and blood and confusion. I am squirming on the bed, but I am not in control of my movements. I feel possessed. I am answering questions as best I can, but after each answer I shout AAH I FEEL LIKE MY HEART IS GOING TO COME OUT OF MY BODY. The nurse is asking me to stop moving, but I can't. She threatens to restrain me. She is annoyed. I use every bit of everything I have to keep my arm still while she puts in an IV. It takes a short time for the medications to take effect. Dilaudid. Toradol. And when my body is finally still it occurs to me that she thinks I'm a junkie. I am still a raging, buzzing mess of pain, my heart has calmed, and my movements have slowed, but now I am going to vomit again. I can finally speak clearly enough to ask to have the light turned off.