This is what happened after my Civil War in 3rd Period English as I remember it.
So after my own personal civil war, I decided to avoid a situation like that at all costs by missing school. A lot of it. At the barest rumblings of trouble, I would stay home. It worked for a while and there were no more embarrassing and painful situations, but I started to fall behind in school. I also started to notice something peculiar about my illness.
Peculiar symptom number 1: whenever I got sick, no one else would. Either I have the immune system of an 80 year-old or there’s something else wrong with me. Another strange symptom was that once the storm hit, if you will, the pain passed and I felt good as new. So I revised my strategy of staying home at the drop of the hat and went to school for half of the day. This saved me from staying home all day, convinced I was sick, and then it turned out I wasn’t. It felt like a waste. If I was sick in the morning, I would wait for whatever-it-was to run its course and then I would go to school the rest of the day. If I started to feel sick at school, I would go home well before any problems hit. It was a nice plus that I got better at asking to go home.
But how did I know beforehand if I was going to be sick? The answer is quite graphic and honestly you probably don’t want to know, but for the morbidly curious let’s just say that I had the symptom of IBS that is called “bothersome belches.” The nickname I had for this symptom was much more crude. If you use your imagination and the letter “D” you can probably think of my nickname for it. This was peculiar symptom number 3 and it would hit 24 hours or less before the fire. As uncomfortable as this was to live with, at least I had a warning sign.
Missing half days of school was better than the entire day, but my teachers started to notice and they would bring it up at Parent/Teacher conferences that I seemed to be missing a lot of half-days of school. My parents were unblinking under their judgmental stare and wrote me as many excuse notes as I needed, but they had a point and it was getting stressful to me to try and keep up.
Time for a plan. Did you know that they make medicine for problems like mine and they sell it over-the-counter? Neither did I, and as soon as I found out, I asked my parents to get it for me. My mom was reluctant, but she got it for me and voila! I was back at school. I didn’t even have to beg a doctor for it. Just my parents.
At first, I followed the directions on the Imodium AD. But there were some mornings when I knew that I was going to need it later on, but I couldn’t take it at school. So the heck with the directions, I took it before any symptoms hit. And I took a lot of that stuff. Here’s where my plan backfired.
I started having a different version of the same problem and this one was infinitely worse. Before, my pain was a sudden gruesome battle that was over quickly. This was a slow, agonizing cold war that just wouldn’t end. My dad would often offer me apple juice for “my problem.” It wasn’t very helpful.
It got to the point where I needed to go see a doctor. This was going to require more than just begging. I was going to need essays and the like. It may sound cruel, but let me explain a little why my parents were this way.
When I was 4 or so years-old, I went to the doctor for severe side pain on my right side. The doctor was stumped, I guess, and recommended me to a specialist. The specialist was positive that I had appendicitis and I’m sure my parents were worried that I had something so serious when I was so young. That was, until I went to the bathroom and came skipping down the hall past three very shocked adults.
“I was sure she had appendicitis…She was in so much pain,” the specialist said.
Needless to say, going to the doctor after that required some convincing on my part. Don’t judge them too harshly. Maybe their reason was they didn’t like spending money at the doctor when waiting and a good bathroom break seemed to cure a lot of my ailments. Maybe the biggest reason, though, was the fact that this doctor was ready to rip me open in emergency surgery and all I had was a severe case of clogged pipes. As a parent now, I would be a little horrified at that. Either way, after a lot of convincing and a lot of time, I went to the family doctor. Warning: Doctors like to use graphic language and Latin words.
“What seems to be the problem?” Dr. I-Can’t-Remeber-His-Name asks.
“Well, I’m having constipation and diarrhea,” I reply.
“That’s not possible.”
I have no idea what to say to that.
As we sit there in awkward silence, he decides that I need to do an x-ray. I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either but into the x-ray machine I go.
When the x-ray is developed, he informs me that I have “a large amount of stool in this area,” pointing to the right, and he prescribes me Draino – I mean, laxatives. Laxatives and a liquid diet for a week and things should go back to normal. As bad as this sounds, I’m willing to try anything at this point.
Liquid laxatives taste a lot like lemon-lime soda. They’re fizzy with a citrus zing and they don’t taste half bad. I take them and I’ve made sure to plan this momentous occasion around a weekend so I miss minimum school. It’s a great idea until I get an unfortunate phone call on Friday, which was Day 1 of Desert Storm. It was from a cute guy named Ryan at school.
“Do you want to go bowling?” Ryan asks me.
“Um…” I’m trying to buy myself some time. There are bathrooms at bowling alleys, I think, but how would it look if I spent the whole date in there? From what my doctor said, it’s going to be an eventful weekend. I really want to go on a date with him, but I’d like to make a better first impression.
“It’s okay,” he says. “You can say no if you want to.” Clearly, I’ve taken too long to answer.
“No, no! I want to go, it’s just…I’m not really feeling well today. Maybe another time.” I kind of lied. I haven’t started feeling ill…yet.
He never did call me back. Stupid boys and their stupid insecurity. I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that I turned down a date to prevent embarrassment or that I turned it down and then NOTHING HAPPENED. No planes, no bombs, not even so much as a hand grenade. I was relieved and seriously worried about how normal I was at the same time. I did end up feeling better, but “my problem” never totally went away in both of its ugly forms. I made a vow to never touch over-the-counter medication again.