Yesterday I went to the emergency room. I feel so silly now. But I’m okay.

I might have been retaining a lot of water. Or something. I’m still not sure what it was. I still feel it somewhat today, but it won’t interrupt my sleep as it did last night.

I guess the best way to describe it is how I described it in an email followup to Dr. Nguyen today. It felt like full-body hiccups. Some kind of spasm starting near my diaphragm and radiating to my lower back and the back of my neck. During the worst spells, I could feel a tiny squishsquishsquish sound in my ears. I guess I feared I was suffering from a massive blood clot or some exotic side effect. I know now that it wasn’t pleasant, but it was hardly life-threatening.

The attending physician in the ER, a Dr. Zimmerman, was extraordinarily caring and polite and when he came in to tell me that a result of one of the tests they performed was slightly abnormal, I felt like I was in good hands. He said that I had an elevated count of some enzyme that indicates a higher risk from a blood clot, but later explained that the elevated levels could have been due to the mastectomy or the port procedure, or even an everyday bump or bruise.


Like I said, I feel ridiculous and would not even mention it were it not for the fact that I learned that the use of my port is pretty painless and easy, simplifying blood tests and the CT scan. When I was sent home, they slapped a band aid on it, and I could even shower yesterday evening.

My port is the thing that easily causes me the most fear because it involves veins and my heart and in my panic yesterday I even imagined that some sort of horrible complication was causing the discomfort and would kill me if I weren’t careful. But yesterday, it was my friend.

I want to tell you a story.

I spent my twenty-first birthday on an airplane. It was the day I came here, to Hawaii. I had had a low key celebration with my family and friends the day before I left but wanted to mark not only my birthday, but my new life, in this place I wanted to settle.

Since I was young, I had a picture in my head of how I wanted to celebrate, though, and hoped somehow, I could make it happen eventually. I didn’t know anybody in Hawaii; I came here completely alone and hoped to make friends here soon. In my mind, I pictured a party, to be held at some later date, surrounded by friends around a giant coconut cake and some champagne.

I was asked by a friend how I’d celebrated my birthday and I told her the whole story, right down to the cake I wanted.

One night, just before I met Ryan, that friend, in the company of our other mutual friends, drove me out to where the lava meets the ocean, near the Holei Sea Arch, at Volcanoes National Park, with a coconut cake and a bottle of bubbly. It was even better than I had imagined, and I think of that night even now.

I’m telling you this because when this is over, I want to do that again. I want to drink with Pele again. I think she’s been pretty kind to me, so I want to say thanks. It’s good to have goals, right?

9 thoughts on “Pele

  1. Whew – was a brief moment of worry seeing the Emergency sign… Glad you got checked, and glad it was okay.

  2. Drinking with Pele sounds great. Don’t forget to offer her some bubbly and coconut cake! May I assume this new goal will precede culinary school, even if by just a few days?!!! In the meantime, please don’t ever feel silly for checking out a new symptom. Better safe than sorry. So happy it turned out to not be serious.

  3. No need to feel silly. That must hav been a scary experience. So glad to hear that all is well. Thanks for continuing to share your story with us, your courage is inspirational.

  4. I’m so grateful it wasn’t serious! But I sure can understand your fear. I think that celebrating with Pele is a great idea… you will have so much to celebrate!


  5. I don’t think your checking out something suspicious was silly at all – it’s just good that what you were experiencing was not dangerous to your health. Thank goodness.
    Mental visualization is a good thing. Hold fast to that vision of coconut cake & champagne as an appropriate celebration to an NED pronouncement.

  6. Hey, Jen. Heading for the ER is *exactly* what you should do with those distressingly weird symptoms. It shows your good sense! Hanging with Pele (Champagne for you, gin for her.) sounds sounds like a great idea, too. Looking forward to your report on *that* trip!

  7. Jen, For me it seems that every kind of feeling felt whether a small pang or sharp pain worries me even now. I have only one ovary so each month I feel this sharp pain where the ovary used to be, have a little panic and then remember that it’s that time of the month. But in the back of my mind I wonder if possibly a tumor could be there. When I was first diagnosed with cancer almost 14 years ago, the sharp headaches worried me so much I would go the ER too. I’m just glad that you questioned what you were feeling and went to the doctor. It’s interesting to read about how you moved to Hawaii not knowing anyone. Wow. And the Big Island of all islands. It’s my favorite island but I don’t know if I could move there not knowing anyone. What a path you’ve paved. I love that grand plan of yours to meet with Pele again.

    Hope you’re having a good day.

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