The slow room

Like I said, I ended up taking Monday off of work because I felt so yucky and out of it — I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. As I joked to my old co-volunteer from Peru, Nick, maybe I was having anniversary sympathy pains for all of the stomach trouble I was having there at this time last year! I devoted an entire page of my photo album to the experience:


Little did I know how close to the truth my joke would turn out to be!


Aside from the debilitating stomach pain and somewhat visible stomach bloat, I had no symptoms — everything else was chugging along just fine, grrr. All the possibilities were running through my head: Was the yogurt bad? Was I suddenly lactose intolerant for real? Had I managed to catch some scary old-fashioned disease like dysentery or typhoid, the likes of which have not been seen in this country since the days of Oregon Trail? A quick wikipedia check told me that my symptoms had nothing to do with those ailments (phew!), so what’s a girl to do?! I called my mom, of course. My mom told me to call my doctor. The receptionist at the doctor’s office told me my doctor (who I haven’t even seen yet since my insurance just started last month) was away until 8/10 and they wouldn’t have someone to cover until the next day. Sigh. I drank some ginger tea and went back to bed again. I slept until 10 and was super antsy when I woke up, so I tried to keep myself busy by doing mindless things like cleaning the apartment, etc.

Around 2:00, I thought I detecting a growling tummy amidst all the other tummy feelings, so I had a cup of the flax pudding I had made on Sunday:


The pudding had a teeny bit of yogurt in it, so I also wanted to see if I noticed any sort of reaction or worsening of my condition in response. I actually felt a little better after eating this, so I decided to rule out the “bad yogurt” scenario.

My mom called to check in and told me to stop trying to make my body process all of this produce “roughage” and to just be nice to myself and have chicken broth. I sort of followed her instructions by defrosting some of my homemade veggie broth along with some of the matzoh balls mom sent home with me after Passover.


With some balcony basil on top to make things more presentable:


I had a little more soup later on for dinner and then followed it with … ice cream!! (the cure for stomach ailments everywhere). I had about 1/4 cup cinnamon oatmeal cookie gelato, 1/4 cup Stonyfield raspberry white chocolate chunk frozen yogurt (but what are those dark chocolate chunks, you ask?? Ohhh, just a chopped half-square of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate because HEAB is a genius!), and some rhubarb-blueberry compote on the side:


And look what I found:


A chunk of oatmeal cookie, ahhhh!!!!!! It was worth the wait πŸ˜€

Unfortunately, the stomach situation tumbled precariously downhill from there. I went to bed at 9, fell asleep at 10, woke up at midnight, and never went back to sleep! I knew there was no use even trying, so I did some reading for class, some blog business, read for pleasure, drank ginger tea and ate dry bagel toast, watched early morning TV, and decided at 7:20 that there was no point in staying home again because it clearly wasn’t going to help me get any better. I toasted half of a freezer bagel (I knew there was a reason I had been saving all of these refined carbs in there!) and had some egg and black beans on one part and peanut butter on the other part:


Looove crispy egg (with CSA green onion stirred in):


I also packed a bunch of formerly frozen toasted bread for work and class in an attempt to give my body easy (though not entirely healthy) foods to digest. Over the morning and at lunch, I had a big hunk of toasted french bread with butter (unpictured) and half of another toasted bagel with peanut butter:


I also had one piece of this champagne cheddar cheese that Danilda brought down because it just sounded too yummy to say no, tummy issues aside:


And half of this piece of cracker barrel aged reserve cheddar left from Friday’s breakfast because cracker barrel aged reserve cheddar is my absolute favorite cheese of all time:

Img 3828

At some point, I called my doctor’s office to see if they had found coverage, and they had not. Awesome.

For an afternoon snack, I split this container of coconut (the man at the juice bar hacked it into pieces specifically for us, so it was soft and fresh and amazing) with Jessica:


Mmmm, coconut has such a mild and smooth flavor, and it made my belly happy πŸ˜€


In class, I had more matzoh ball soup …


… with the rest of Lillian’s Maria biscuits for dipping:


With my class dinner, I drank what I was expecting to be the best thing that had happened to my stomach since comfort:


I nearly jumped for joy when I saw this in the deli near school. I really wanted some ginger tea, but I couldn’t find any places with it. Kombucha seemed the perfect solution because it already has good stomach benefits, it’s fizzy, and this flavor had fresh pressed ginger juice as the only other ingredient, and ginger is obviously a miracle worker with stomach ailments:

Img 3838

I was in love from the first sip. It tasted like sushi ginger in juice form!!!! Some people may find that thought repelling, but I felt as though I had discovered the perfect marriage of taste and functionality. My stomach disagreed. Apparently, despite the benefits of kombucha for normal healthy stomachs and ginger’s miracle properties, kombucha’s high acid content is not exactly ideal for an already-irritated stomach. My stomach started to feel as though it was going to rip itself from my belly and sprint across the room. I held out as long as I could but I ended up having to leave class an hour before it was over.

I called my mom from outside to bring her up to date on the latest health info (what would I do without her?!) and then spent the next half hour walking in the downtown direction while I called my doctor’s office again (voicemail said only to call 911 or go to ER if assistance was needed), my insurance (said to call back during business hours or call 911 or go to ER), and the ER. The complications were as follows: (1) I would not be able to see a different doctor without a referral that was approved by my insurance, and neither my insurance nor other doctors’ offices were open at this hour and (2) an ER visit has a $0 copay … unless the patient is admitted and needs treatment, in which case the copay becomes $1000! Ummmmm …

I stopped into deli for emergency tummy settlling snacks because I was still kind of in excruciating pain and it was hard to think straight!


After I opened the ginger ale and took a sip, I immediately thought better of it because I realized that the fake sugars coupled with the fake ginger flavor would probably do my tummy more harm than good. I actually threw the bottle away (horror!) and opted for straight fizz instead:


I got through to the ER finally and was assured that I would not be “admitted” to the $1000 copay scenario without my awareness and consent, and the decision was made. I was off to good ol’ Methodist Hospital in the Slope for some seriously slow motion emergency service. By the time I was called in, I had eaten the entire bag of pita chips — ummmm, that is six servings!!! I was desperate, though — relief only seemed to come while I was eating, and I had to wait for five hours to be seen, 9:30 pm to 2:30 am. Good thing I was not dying.

What is the longest you have had to wait in the ER?

15 thoughts on “The slow room

  1. luckytastebuds says:

    oh GOD Sarah your tummy ailments sounds incredibly serious…i’m really not sure all the cheese is good for you at all!!! Lay off dairy and too much oil…and no carbonated beverages (even if it’s as delicious as ginger ale). Chinese doctors would say, sip on chamomile tea to soothe your tummy…but seriously, I’m sorry American healthcare system SUCKS ass, but take care of yourself by eating stuff easy to break down by your tummy. I promsie it will help! I used to shadow a pediatrician and he would ALWAYS prescribe that for kids with tummy problems. Go to a doctor if it bothers you!!!! Co-paying is FINE as long as you’re healthy!!!!


  2. Red Head, Yellow Dog says:

    ahh! what a horror story! so sorry!! what ended up happening at the ER though?? I feel like the end of your blog post was like the cliff hanger at the end of grey’s anatomy!! (or another one of those popular shows with inevitable cliff hangers) hope you’re feeling better!


  3. Julie says:

    Sarah, dude, you’re killing me! My stomach is aching from all the stuff you’re eating and I don’t have any GI issues today! When you have any GI probs, follow the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. Chicken/Veggie broth is great too. Stay away from a lot of produce or roughage as well as dairy for a few days, hydrate like crazy with water. Think plain and bland for a few days, lay off all the Sarah Specials with the seeds and nuts and mixtures and freezer treasures!! Your readership will not be bored! We want you to mend and then next week you can go back to the crazy combos! πŸ™‚


  4. Hallie says:

    I have never had to go to the ER, knock on internet wood, so if I ever go hopefully I’ll remember to bring a book. you poor thing! I hope whatever is causing this distress ends soon! I agree with others, it’s probably best to eat boring stuff like bananas and toast right now. Feel better soon!


  5. brandi says:

    oh, Sarah! that’s not fun at all. I hope you get better soon!

    I had to stay in the ER for a few hours AND stay overnight because they “thought” I had appendicitis. Except I didn’t and I knew that, but anyways. that’s a long story.


  6. erin says:

    well, i do happen to know the follow-up to this cliffhanger of a post, but i have to agree 100% with julie… when you feel sick, eating more usually doesn’t fix it!!


  7. Danielle says:

    Oh no Sarah! I’m sorry you had to go to the hospital, I hope you are feeling better!
    I once waited 9 hours in an ER, it was awful I had pneumonia and felt like someone was sitting on my chest, I was so hungry and tired and cranky. It was awful!


  8. balancejoyanddelicias says:

    oh…Sarah~~ sorry I didn’t catch up your stomach problem earlier… I feel terribly sorry to know that you’ve been feeling so bad and without anything that seem to help and an insurance company that won’t see you, family doctor on vacation and family away from you. If I lived closer to you, I’ll definitely run to you to help, at least to cook for you (although you’re better cooker though) or prepare simple meals for you.
    From what I can see, you might need to try to eat simpler meals… like plain rice or porridge to help to ease your pain before you figure out what’s the problem. chips and fake sugar definitely won’t help. Ginger tea can help but will not solve the problem if you have something serious like an infection.
    I’d definitely cut back on dairy, especially cheese, because if your stomach is in ill, it’s better to give it simple food to digest.
    I hope by now you’ve already figured out what’s going wrong with you belly, or ER already checked you after 5 hours!
    Really want to see you feeling better!


  9. Emily says:

    Eeek, feel better!

    One time when I had the flu really badly I had to go to the ER and I waited for 4 hours. Much much much worse was when I was admitted though – the nurse put down a drop cloth before she inserted the IV because “sometimes I get a little messy,” and she did! Good times.


  10. Gina says:

    From what I have learned about supplements, ginger is only beneficial for stomach aches that include nausea, nothing else. So if you are just having pain, ginger will not help. Either way, I hope you get in to see the doctor soon! Could it be your gallbladder? I can’t believe you have to wait to get into the ER, is that normal? I’ve never heard of such a thing, other than in Canada.

    Oh, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Oregon Trail! Ok, I LOVED it, as I haven’t played it in years, but oh such good memories πŸ™‚


  11. katecooks says:

    aw sarah you poor thing! that sounds awful. i hope that they were able to figure out what’s wrong so they can FIX it for you! feeling like your stomach is about to race across the room would NOT be fun! sending you a million good wishes!!!!!


  12. carolinebee says:

    Sarah what happened are u ok!??? I hope so! I had the WORST stomach ache i’ve ever had in boston a few weeks ago, like exactly the same scenario of my stomach wanting to rip itself out of my body- and I got some regular canada dry and drinking half actually helped a TON. Good luck girl I really hope your turmoil is over.


  13. Jessica says:

    Oh, that sucks really bad. Hopefully you’re feeling better!

    Everyone says the Canadian healthcare system is better than the American and in some ways it is but we can’t afford to pay doctors so our waits are atrocious. I can’t even get a doctor because there aren’t any accepting patients so I usually have to go to the walk-in clinics and the wait is between 2-4 hours. The last time I went to the ER the wait was 14 hours, and it’s actually gotten worse. My boyfriend works at the hospital and lately he says the wait is around 20 hours+.


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