And To Think I Was Worried About a Stubbed Toe

I never used to believe in jinxes.

I mean, I wrote this nice, long post on Fate, a concept I wholeheartedly endorse. And so I figured, if Fate is in control and destiny is already lined up, then you can’t jinx what was meant to be the final outcome all along. Right? It sounds great in theory, anyway…

But then last week I wrote about how I was gearing up for the best Thanksgiving of my life, provided I survived long enough to enjoy it, because Tuesday had brought a wealth of adversity into my life…including a rather painful stubbed toe.

Silly, silly Mark. How wonderful a stubbed toe would feel right about now.

The Thanksgiving holiday began on an amazing high note. I met Tara at the airport Wednesday morning, and as usual we were all giddy to see each other again – kissing, hugging, holding hands. We had a fun day with the kids that included do-it-yourself pancakes at Slappy Cakes and bowling at Big Al’s. After playing cards and ordering pizza for dinner, I dropped the kids off, and she and I began the task of preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. We baked pies – I did a pumpkin, she did a sweet potato – and prepared appetizers. Thursday went off without a hitch; my parents, aunt and uncle arrived around 2 PM and everybody mingled while enjoying the fruits of our labor. Needless to say, Tara won everybody over. My parents clearly were quite impressed with her, and the feeling was mutual. We could now settle back and enjoy the rest of our long holiday weekend together.

Friday, we’d planned on doing nothing other than relaxing and watching movies. That morning she finally got to see Steve Martin’s classic comedy The Jerk as we lay entwined on my couch. The day was off to a great start. Feeling hungry, we decided to run out and grab some Chinese food.

And that’s when trouble hit, in the form of sudden, sharp, stabbing stomach pains.

“Are you okay?” Tara asked.

The truth is, I was in excruciating pain and could barely stand up. I suggested we make a quick stop at Fred Meyer for some Pepto Bismol, but that did nothing. I decided to lie down at home, but the pain only intensified through the day. By evening it was the worst I’d ever felt, so I told Tara it was time to head to the emergency room. Big step for a guy who is no fan of doctors or hospitals, lemme tell ya, but I was in agony. After a two-hour wait that felt like pure, uncomfortable torture of the worst kind, I finally got checked out. Blood tests, a CAT scan and an ultrasound pointed to acute pancreatitis caused by gallstones blocking my bile duct. Fun stuff! I was admitted to the hospital, hooked up to an IV that filled my veins full of antibiotics and a wonderful narcotic called dilaudid, and gradually began to mend.

Monday morning came the surgery. I had always been terrified of going under the knife, and might have – in a moment of weakness – mentioned to Tara that since she had the password to my blog, maybe she could be so kind as to write a really heartfelt tribute should I die on the operating table. What a scary moment, being wheeled into the operating room – it was ice cold in there. I had always imagined the surgeon slipping a mask over my face and asking me to count backwards from 10 to 1, but it didn’t happen that way. He instead told me to picture a happy place, and suggested the Caribbean. I pictured white sand beneath my toes…and then, nada. I was fully conscious one second, completely out the next, until I woke up 90 minutes later in the recovery room. I saw a blur of figures walking by, heard machines beeping, and thought I was dreaming for a good five minutes until I realized I’d actually made it through the surgery. “I’m alive!!” I thought gratefully, and have never been so relieved in my life.

Tara had to fly back home that afternoon, but she and my parents hung out with me for a few hours back in my (thankfully private) hospital room. And then all too soon we had to part ways. She had been such a rock to me throughout this whole ordeal; as badly as I felt for ruining our perfect Thanksgiving holiday, she insisted she was glad that she had been there for me. If nothing else, it strengthened our bond even further than before – plus she had a chance to really bond with my parents. I love that girl so much.

That should have been the end of the story…

But, alas, life sometimes throws you curve balls. I am now preparing for my sixth night in the hospital, because there are issues with stabilizing my blood pressure. Hypertension runs on my dad’s side of the family, and while I’d always thought I was immune, apparently this is not the case. My BP has been running high and the doctors are trying their best to come up with the correct balance of meds and the right dosage to safely discharge me. It is frustrating as hell to be stuck here so long, in an uncomfortable bed with nothing much to do and getting very little sleep, but I know they’re only looking out for my well being and the smart thing is not to stress over it. Easier said than done, of course. I actually got into an argument with my doctor after begging him to release me this afternoon; he told me this wasn’t a jail, and I said fine, I wanted out. Only it turns out if I do so I won’t receive any post-recovery treatment – no blood pressure meds or painkillers – and I’ll lose access to the state-funded insurance program that just may bail me out of what will otherwise be a financial disaster for me. So I had to swallow my pride and suck it up. I actually asked one of the nurses if I could talk to him real quick to offer an apology, but the consensus on this floor is that my doctor is, according to multiple sources, a bit of a jerk.

C’est la vie, then. I don’t feel so bad. Most of the staff here has been very friendly and accommodating, but there have been a few less than stellar characters, as well. It’s all par for the course, I suppose.

I still don’t know when I’m going home. The optimist in me still figures it’ll be tomorrow…only tomorrow has an annoying way of bleeding over into the next day, and then the next. Only time will tell, I suppose.

In the meantime…at least I’ve got a decent view from my room.

Except for the parking lot and the boilers, it sure is pretty outside.

Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

28 thoughts on “And To Think I Was Worried About a Stubbed Toe

  1. Oh my gosh, Mark! I leave you alone a few days and look where I find you! I’m so glad Tara was there to take you to the hospital and stay through the surgery. I’m sure it was really tough for her to leave you there, but I’ll bet it does make you stronger. Mend soon, pal! Take it easy.

    On a cheery note, your book has made my Christmas list along with a note to family to help me support my favorite bloggers: buying their books!!! Hope I’ll be unwrapping No Time for Kings this holiday season!


  2. You REALLY know how to milk a situation for all its worth, dontcha?

    Kidding, my blogging friend…


    Get better, dammit. That’s an order, in case you couldn’t tell.

    And BTW, I loved how you mentioned that one day “bleeds over” into the next. Nice literary technique there…


    1. I have been poked and prodded so often these past several days, I no longer recoil at the sight of my own blood. Trust me…that used to be an issue. It’s all relative now, I suppose.


  3. “I had always been terrified of going under the knife.”

    Oh god, Mark….I feel the same way, I’m TERRIFIED going under the knife. Actually, it’s anesthesia that terrifies me. That’s why last year when I had my tooth abscess drained, I chose a local rather than a general.

    So glad to hear you came through with flying colors and lived to write this post – HA!

    Gosh, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be cooped up in a hospital for the past 6 nights, but at least you have a private room 🙂

    “I actually got into an argument with my doctor after begging him to release me this afternoon; he told me this wasn’t a jail, and I said fine, I wanted out.”

    Oooo….I would have loved to been a fly on the wall and heard you with the “jerk” doctor. That’s how I was with that “jerk” oral surgeon when I told him that his bedside manner sucked!

    Anyway, just know that all your fans here are sharing ‘good vibes’ for a speedy recovery.

    Be well, buddy! And thanks so much for keeping us updated.


    1. I can’t help but wonder why the lowest-paid hospital staff…the nurses, CNAs and even the volunteers…have the cheeriest demeanors, while the doctors walk around thinking they are all that. It’s frustrating. For not being “jail” they sure have me trapped between a rock and a hard place.


    1. I also used to dread dental procedures. Now it’s all relative, Carl! Got your check in the mail but I obviously haven’t been home to send anything out. All in good time, my friend.


  4. Gee whiz…you’re way gooder with words than me!


    Glad you’re feeling well enough to write a post. I’ve missed your writing, but not nearly as much as I’m missing you tonight. I know I’ve said it a dozen times, but keep your chin up, be patient (ha! pun intended!) and try not to get worked up over the things you have no control over. Focus on getting better because Christmas will be here soon and you owe me at least three nights of you-know-what. I love you.


    1. Don’t sell yourself short, babe. Everybody liked your writing, too. You’ve got a similar gift! I have taken your advice and just given in to whatever they say. I have to, now that I’ve got that beautiful Christmas goal to shoot for. 🙂

      On the plus side, the idea of flying now? Pssh. Barely fazes me.

      I love you lots.


  5. Mark, Mark, Mark! I agree with Tara in that you are feeling well enough to write a post. Having high blood pressure is really sucky. I’ve been on meds for the last 18 months and I’ve been monitoring myself for the last week now and I’m thinking I may be able to get off of the meds since it’s not as high as it used to be. No alcohol and eating right helps.

    Do keep your chin up Mark. Tara is absolutely right. Why worry over things you can’t control let alone things that don’t live past today. Everything will work out. I have faith in God and his promises!


    1. Thanks, Tracy. I’m fully willing to cut back on my alcohol consumption and watch my diet. Key words = “cut back.” Anything more is just drastic talk, lol. I know that people can lead completely normal lives while on meds…it’s just practicing maintenance and being careful.


  6. “Hypertension is the silent killer”! We want you around for many more years so that you can finally enjoy what you have found in Tara-and of course for us!!!


    1. Thanks, mom. I want to be around a long time for all the good that is in my life right now. I’m trying my best to get through this and come home. I feel like once I do, I can start the next phase of my wonderful life.


    1. It would be a much better vacation if I weren’t confined to an uncomfortable bed and being poked, prodded, and cuffed at all hours of the day and night. Or if my kids were still infants, I suppose. I’m makin’ do!


  7. I’ve had two similar hospital experiences! I had my gall bladder out 10 years ago – gallstones are horribly painful! I remember the most unpleasant part of the surgery being made to swallow the cable with the camera on it after they shoved it up my nose while I was drugged. And when my son was born, I had to stay in the hospital till they got my blood pressure calmed down. Bummer. But I got better – and you will too.


    1. I don’t know which was worse, Patti – the acute pancreatitis or the gallstones. They all kind of bled together into one agonizing, all-encompassing torture. But here it is, weeks later and you’re right – I am better! A little slow responding to a few comments, but better nonetheless.


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