Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Constitutes An Emergency?

What does a broken jaw feel like, exactly? I can deduct the “it hurts” part on my own, but wouldn’t a bruised one hurt, too? The thing is I’m not a big fan of emergency rooms and even though it’s two in the morning and I’m awake and abusing over-the-counter pain medications, I’m still hoping my jaw will rally and I can avoid professional medical intervention. In general, I’m the complete opposite of a hypochondriac, which, for the record, is not hyperchondriac because that’s not a word. Basically, I wait out injuries and illnesses far beyond the point any rational person would. For the most part, it’s worked out for me. But there are a couple of times that it hasn’t. (Don’t worry; I’ll come back to how I might have broken my jaw.)

The first time I really underestimated an injury was in college when I broke my finger playing flag football. I didn’t know I had broken my finger and I not only finished the game, but kept trying to pull my finger back out like the joint was jammed. And, yes, that hurt, and I think I probably even screamed, but I don’t seek emergency attention unless I’m one hundred percent certain there’s an emergency. For instance, I would only consider a headache an emergency if it was a partial decapitation.

The broken finger was on my left hand, so I was able to function normally while it healed. I use the terms “healed” and “function normally” loosely, as it’s a stretch to call what my finger did healing and calling any part of my college life functioning normally would be an even bigger stretch. This “healing” was a month long process that involved a kaleidoscope of bruise colors and ultimately left me with a slightly disfigured middle finger because it grew back together wrong. So, in that case, I should’ve walked off the field and gone to the emergency room, but we won the game that night, and that was almost a fair trade for one measly broken finger.

Once, I had a sinus infection for almost four weeks, and knew that I had one, but didn’t want to pony up a co-pay and find a babysitter just so my family doctor could touch my forehead and eye sockets while I said, “Ow!” Eventually, it got so bad I couldn’t lie down. That was probably a defensive mechanism in my body that was preventing the infection from traveling to my brain and killing me. Of course, if my body was that good at defense, why did it let my stupid sinuses get infected in the first place? I eventually caved and went in to collect my prize of two full weeks of antibiotics.

And then there was the time I let myself get so severely dehydrated that the admitting nurse at the ER couldn’t get a blood pressure on me, at all. She freaked out and I got to go straight back, which is a bonus in the emergency room game. My organs were starting to shut down just a smidge, which explained some of my excruciating pain, but they eventually got me all fixed up and sent me on my way. I really tried to avoid going that time, too, but staring down the grim reaper left me no choice.

So, here I am, in the middle of the night writing a blog when I can’t even close my mouth normally. And I’m dreading how tired I’ll feel tomorrow during my exercise boot camp. I might be able to hold myself in a side plank position, as the jaw muscle is the only one you don’t use for that, but there will be no counting out loud during push-ups, so my drill sergeant CAN HEAR ME! Because, in the most depressing admission of my life, I don’t think I’ll be able to talk tomorrow. Actually, this may be what constitutes an emergency.

But you’re probably still wondering how I potentially broke my jaw. Well, I was playing basketball again with my friend, E. Some of you were privileged enough to see the enormous bruise that she left on my bicep two weeks ago. Undeniably, the worst bruise of my entire life and possibly the worst bruise I’ve ever seen on anyone. It was positioned just right so that people who didn’t know me did a double take to see what my tattoo was of. (It was a large rendering of busted veins, not the state of Alaska.) Some strangers who took note of it had really concerned looks on their faces and I just knew that my husband was probably going to get picked up by the police. He didn’t. Though if I went into the emergency room tonight with that baseball-sized bruise still healing on my arm and a freshly broken jaw, I don’t like his chances. Because who would believe that a 32-year-old mother of three got two serious injuries in one month playing basketball with her friend?

Maybe I can wait it out a few days. I have to admit I’m kind of stoked that I can’t chew at all because I really need to drop these last ten pounds and there’s nothing like a liquid diet to give you a boost in the weight loss department. And since I think emergency rooms are where people go when their arms have been sawed off in construction accidents or they have bullets in their person, I’ll just try the ibuprofen, Tylenol dance for now. I’m normally not a medicine taker either, but with some recent sports and running injuries along with muscle soreness I’ve made quite a dent in my price club sized bottle of ibuprofen. It’s become a staple of my diet, really. But, I don’t think pervasive use of 200 milligram Motrin requires an intervention or treatment at a methadone clinic or anything. I’m pretty sure the best prescription for me would be to act my age. Maybe I should be inside baking cookies instead of taking shoulders to the jaw in a raucous game of driveway basketball? Well, not this week, though, because I can’t chew.

I think I'll save this and post it in the morning because sometimes things seem a lot funnier in the middle of the night than they really are, and I'm under the influence of a lot of Tylenol. Who knows, maybe I'll take my injuries more seriously in the morning when I'm pureeing my cereal in the blender, so that I can drink it through a straw.

1 comment:

  1. I dunno, Heather, I can think of some liquid diet that would definitely not whittle my waistline. Chocolate milkshakes, for one. Mmm...yummy.

    Oh by the way, I finally got my PopTarts and Pringles fix. Thanks a lot for planting that seed. :)

    Hope your jaw feels better soon!