Before I could get to looking forward to another date, our road trip took a detour to the ER. Maybe it was the ice cream and sprinkles. Perhaps it was the accordion. More likely, it was life doing what life does best: moonlighting as banal until you’ve let your guard down and then jumping out and not only waggling its fingers jazz-hand style, but performing a full-blown mosh pit thrash session complete with crowd surfing, a band you only mildly enjoy, and a run-in with your most recent ex.
Not cool, life. Interesting certainly. But not cool.
So after my ice cream and lecture date with Penn Ben, Megan and I returned to our dingy hotel room (clean enough, but yes, a tad dingy) and did our usual post-date routine: Megs downloaded all the film we had taken, and I started writing. Except, I had a weird pain in my side and lower abdomen. Which gave me pause, but I kept writing. And then darn it, that pain felt all pain-like again. And again.
So I stopped writing and started distracting myself with internet videos (like this one), but even the frivolity of the web wasn’t able to ease my pain. So I turned to texting. And then a long phone call. Although I was waving all the bells and whistles, my brain kept glitching me back into painland. Finally I gave up on all communications and lay down, silent and still.
Was that nothing? Nope. Still pain.
I tossed. I turned. I balled up. I stretched out. I snuggled a pillow. I lay on my stomach. I lay on my back. And in a feeling of defeat a few hours later, I called my mom on the West Coast, where it was midnight and I’m sure a phone call from her daughter writhing in pain across the country was not what she wanted to be woken to.
Mom suggested an advice nurse. The advice nurse suggested the ER. And then I had the distinct pleasure of waking up Megan to tell her I was going to head to the hospital. Megan refused to let me go alone. While I attempted to help, she packed the car and told me to sit the heck down already.
Remember that whole note about how Americans are heroes? The people in the State College ER were those sort of heart-of-superhero folks who were extremely kind. They seriously brought Megan a cup of coffee. Like, they took her order, and then brought it to her.
Megan gave me a straw to feel better (she knows how much I like straws) while I huddled in a ball and let the very kind nurse stick me in the rear-area with a needle. Megan even agreed to avert her eyes as she’s not fond of needles and was concerned the nurse would stick her too if she shut her eyes. Does it count as a first date if a male nurse talks to you a lot and then pokes you? If the guy hadn’t had kids I felt like our conversation could have been first date worthy.
When all was said and done and I was discharged from the ER with high-fives from the nursing staff, the sun was cresting Beaver Stadium and Megan felt that we should try to get some food in me. Breakfast at the only diner open was on our docket, and we had the joy of watching still-drunk co-eds meander in and order greasy plates of bacon and eggs.
And judging by the bleary look in their eyes, they weren’t too surprised when I ran outside and emptied the contents of my stomach (in fact, some were probably a bit envious). Thank gosh for college kids.