Flashback Friday: Rip Van Winkle & the Gastritis Queen

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[We return here to a recently reunited, fresh-in-love, Z & Beth. Sadly, things are not going well.]

3 January 2007

I made it to Seattle before the clock struck 12. Just barely. Z and my luggage were both waiting on me, so I felt welcomed. We took a taxi back to his flat, where he had New Year’s champagne waiting as well as those little confetti bottle poppers. By the time we got back there was precious little time to get anywhere fun for midnight, so we watched the Space Needle fireworks display on television. It’s weird to be one of the last places on the planet to experience the New Year. I kept waiting to see Dick Clark, but he’d been in bed for three hours—2007 was already old news by the time it hit the Pacific Northwest.Don’t judge me harshly, but I’m a little superstitious. It’s haphazard superstition. I’d walk under a ladder, but I don’t like a candle in my house with an unburned wick. The whole black cat thing annoys me because it smacks of feline racism. One of my superstitions is that however you spend New Year’s Day will pretty much determine the shape of your year. It’s not looking good for us. Z was still horribly jetlagged, so he slept until 6 p.m. on January 1st. [It is worth admitting here, that I went mentally ill for a few hours and convinced myself that he was pretending to be asleep because he realized he didn’t want to spend any time with me, so there was some cabinet door slamming and a pouty walk up to McDonald’s where I ate alone and wondered if I should book an early ticket back home. I hadn’t yet flown to Zimbabwe and didn’t know about jetlag of this magnitude.–RGS] Once he was up, we walked to his office so he could take care of some things before classes started and then decided to eat at our (formerly) favorite Mexican place. It was not so good as we remembered, and by 3 a.m. I was awake with “gastrointestinal distress.” By the time I woke up the next morning, I was achy and still making regular trips to the bathroom. Between my marathon bathroom visits, we lounged in bed watching Gerald Ford’s funeral. Not really the honeymoon-ette I was planning.

Also, my hair has gone from Meredith Grey to Slobodan Milosevic. Who knew it could get worse?

Z went to work and left me alone with my ailments. He called and suggested I go to the ER around the corner if I felt too bad. I laughed at this. It’s just the flu. We hung up. And then I started thinking about all the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome and how my recently purchased contraceptive sponges could cause said syndrome, read up on it on the internet and discovered I had every symptom except a sunburn-like rash. Hmmm. Intuition told me this was an unlikely diagnosis, but the big warning at the bottom of the box saying “Seek medical attention immediately” scared me. I weighed the evidence. These really were the worst flu-like symptoms I’d ever felt. And would I be achy if it was Mexican food poisoning? I walked across the street to the ER.

If you ever have to go to an emergency room, try to go to one in Seattle. I’m not a regular ER visitor, but based on my experience at my local one in August, I can see a vast difference. Here, I was treated kindly, I was given warm blankets, I was clucked at and reassured. No one made me feel as if I had no business being there. The doctor looked like someone who would turn the heads of both McDreamy and McSteamy’s. She was kind. Kind and beautiful and smart. It was like night and day when I think about the shark-tooth wearing doctor I had to see in the fall and how I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time.

Z came and entertained me, though I kept dozing off from the IV they’d given me for dehydration. The blood work indicated that it was “just” gastritis, so they gave me some drugs, some instructions, and sent me on my way. One of the drugs to stop nausea I vowed not to take: a suppository that Z and I immediately referred to as a “spy pill” like the cyanide capsules that are last resort for secret agents.

So it definitely isn’t the start of 2007 with Z that I was anticipating. He’s been a wonderful care-giver though. I awoke this morning to Post-it notes all over the apartment with well-wishes and numbers where he can be reached and two cans of chicken noodle soup that he had gone out last night in the rain to buy for me. I feel better. The sun is out. My fingers are crossed that he won’t get sick and that the rest of my stay will be good. And also, that my hair will start looking more like mine and less like Meredith Grey’s and now-dead foreign leaders.

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