369: How My CAT Scan Was Predicted By a King from the Bronze Age
I don’t remember ever having been connected to an IV before last Wednesday, but I know last week was definitely my first experience in a CAT scanner.
Just a few hours earlier, I had stopped at a MINI dealership to pick up a special part I couldn’t get delivered here in Lynchburg. Pulling out of the service center, I struggled to steer. Every jostle made my rib cage scream in pain. Any left-hand turn pressed my throbbing side into an unforgiving seat. I had planned to spend the next seven hours driving home, but that attempt suddenly grew daunting.
Thankfully, Siri found an urgent care facility just up the road. After a short interview there, the nurse practitioner forwarded me to the emergency room just down the street.
I answered a series of questions that included everything except where my parents went for their first date. Apparently, blood was drawn for a variety of tests; but I was too squeamish to watch, let alone count how many of the color-coded vials the nurse filled.
In an inappropriately-short amount of time—without sultry music or dollar bills—I was told to strip down to my socks and underwear. I quickly learned that “gown” is a euphemism when preceded by “hospital.” A nurse brought preheated blankets for my legs, as gravity started pushing saline into my veins to enable a urine test. Then, marker fluids arrived with a warning that I’d feel hot flashes in the back of my throat and in my pelvis. (What the lab technician actually said was, “You’ll feel like you peed yourself, but you didn’t.”)
Sure enough, I got a taste of menopause about 90 seconds later.
The doctor was checking to rule out a lacerated kidney. See, pain is supposed to subside over time; and mine was getting worse without any external bruising. My body cavity could’ve been filling with blood.
Turns out, it wasn’t. My organs passed inspection. After eight X-rays, so did my ribs. I felt like a sissy, but the doctor compared the soft tissue damage to what it would feel like to get struck by a baseball bat. He cleared me to drive home—just not with the hydrocodone in the prescription I had to fill before I left Ohio.
Scores of bugs died against my windshield over the next eight hours, but I survived all the bumps. Ironically, the stiff suspension of my baby Beamer is part of why I got in this mess in the first place.
See, three evenings prior, some of my professional peers had invited me to race go karts. My friends had squared off at previous conventions and had grown their friendly rivalry into a tradition. As someone whose daily driver (1) was marketed for years as a go kart, (2) was parked on display in front of our Hyatt Regency, and (3) had raced Porsches and Corvettes on a full-size track, suddenly my ego felt invited into the mix.
All of us bought a three-race package. I skirted most of the trash talk and recorded the fastest lap and the highest race skills score of the group during the first race. Unfortunately, we had to switch karts for the second race. I would soon learn that this kart was far looser than my first kart. There was some sort of technical holdup in the pits that gave me time to discover where the throttle lever was on the engine. I practiced reaching for it, so that I could goose it during one of the straightaways.
After getting out in front of the pack on one of the straight stretches, I reached for that lever. I let my focus leave the track, as I learned that the throttle lever wouldn’t go any further than my gas pedal would. When I looked up, I saw a wall which I promptly hit so hard that I put the kart up on two wheels. Because my arm was extended out over the engine, my ribs were exposed to the edge of the hardshell seat. My kidney and ribs took an acute blow.
I kept racing and wincing. I hit that wall again on a subsequent lap—in the same place—as I experimented with adjustments too close to the edge of control. The pits tempted me, but I grimaced to the second fastest lap of the six of us.
Undeterred by the pain, I drove the third race, bouncing one more time off that same wall in the same place. Even with that, I turned the fastest lap and highest driver score again. I left the track, proving what I had hoped but moving gingerly.
For the past week, laughter has hurt. Coughing has been torture. Hiccups have not been their usual funny selves. I’ve held my nose to avoid sneezing. Multiple times, I’ve heard Israel’s King Solomon from three millennia ago: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Call it karma or cosmic justice, I’ll chalk it up to ancient wisdom. My sore ribs have been alerting me to other places where I take pride, where my insecurity drives me. I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson, but I’ve been on the wrong end of this law too many times to count.
My goal going forward is to recognize the temptation earlier, to bring my insecurity into the sunlight, and to ask God for his intervention. Oh, and to win it all next year without hitting a wall or visiting a medical professional.