The Morphine Allergy: A Love Story

Let’s travel back in time to 2004. I had just finished my first semester of freshman year at WMU (Go Broncos). I was home on winter break, busily catching up with all my friends who were also home from their respective colleges, including my girlfriend at the time, Ella. After one night out that included tacos, milkshakes and late night coffee, Ella drove me home. There was a silent tension between us that had gone unspoken for the entire night and break. In front of my house, I looked at her, deciding to either kiss her like nothing was off or to say something.

I decided to say something. “Things feel different, Ella. Between you and me. Something is off with us. Or is that just me?” I asked anxiously.

“I feel it too. I don’t know. Maybe long distance and starting college is too much for us. But I still love you.” She said staring at her feet with intensity.

“I love you, too. Should we take a break?” I asked, not knowing what else to say.

“I think so.” She looked up with tears in her eyes.

“Okay. But this isn’t forever because I love you and you love me. We’ll figure it out, right?” I said, wiping my own cheek of tears.

“Yeah. We’ll just take a break, now. Can I still call you?” she asked.

“Duh.” I said grabbing her for a tight hug.

We kissed one of those kisses you know is a goodbye/closing of a chapter type of kiss. I got out of the car and turned to go. Then, I quickly spun around and knocked on the door, “I forgot my leftovers.” I said as I grabbed them from the backseat. “Bye!” I added.

I shuffled into my mom’s house, putting my food in the fridge and heading to bed. As I lay down I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. It felt like someone had stabbed me. The pain was so bad I couldn’t move. I reached for my brick size cell phone and called my mom’s land line phone.

“Sweetie?” My mom sleepily answered. “Didn’t I just hear you come in, what’s wrong?”

“Mom! Come upstairs, my stomach is trying to kill me!” I screamed.

My mom raced upstairs and started asking a million and one mom questions. I answered her questions through gritted teeth as the pain worsened. I felt like I was going to die, like my insides were going to burst. All that would be left of me would look like a kitchen after you blend something without putting the lid on. My mom asked if I thought I needed to go to the hospital. I said “NO!….maybe? NO!” And then just like that the pain started to lessen to a dull uncomfortable pain. My mom stayed with me, rubbing my back until I fell asleep.

I awoke the next morning to an empty house. My stomach still hurt but felt more sore than anything else. I went to the bathroom and started to pee and the sharp pain came back. Great, I was going to die on the toilet. I crawled towards the phone and called my mom. She came home and took me to my doctor, who after pressing on my stomach and making me walk and jump ordered us to the ER saying something about appendicitis.

If you ever want to avoid a line in the ER just tell them your doctor sent you over under the suspicion you have appendicitis. They will rush you ahead of every crying, feverish, bleeding person in the waiting room. Once in the room a doctor came in and started asking me questions about the pain and when it started and my medical history. Then he got very personal.

Doctor: Are you sexually active?

Me: Ummm, what do you mean?

Doctor: Are you having sexual intercourse?

Me: (laugh) Nope.

Doctor: Are you pregnant or could you be pregnant?

Me: Not unless I’m Virgin Mary!

Mom: You have to tell them!

Me: Tell them what?

Mom: THAT YOU ARE A LESBIAN! AND YOU ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND!

Doctor: *clears throat* Are you sexually active with women?

Me: I was with one.

Doctor: Did you use protection?

Me: Um, we were each other’s first….

Doctor: Is that a no?

Me: I guess.

Doctor: Okay, I’m going to go put in an order for an ultrasound and a CT scan. And a nurse will be in to get you an IV.

I glared at my mother. She shrugged back at me. Then the pain was back and I started whining and complaining loudly. (note: I make a terrible patient.) The nurse came and hooked me up with an IV to get me full of liquids—apparently they needed my bladder to be beyond full for the ultrasound. While we waited for the iv liquids to drain into my body, a doctor came in with my chart. “So, it says here you’re a lesbian!” she announced like it was my diagnosis.

“Umm, yeah, last time I checked?” I said.

“So, umm, I guess that means there is no way you could be pregnant?” She asked, almost like she was interrogating me.

“If what I learned in school is right, then I am definitely not pregnant.” I said. My mom glared at me.

“Well, we can rule that out and we’ll move on to other options. We’ll figure this out. And after your ultrasound we’ll get you something for the pain.” She said as she spun on her heels and left.

By the time the tech came to take me to the ultrasound I had to pee worse than I can ever remember needing to pee. She wheeled me down what felt like miles of hallways into a dark room. As she pulled the machine up to the bed she asked “Have you had sexual intercourse before?”

I rolled my eyes, “I’m A LESBIAN!” I yelled at her, tired of everybody asking about my sexual history.

“Oh. Um. Well I was just asking because we have two probes and if you hadn’t had sex yet the transvaginal probe will hurt. So we’ll use the other one. No big deal, okay?” I could feel my cheeks getting red from embarrassment. After the ultrasound, she left the room and said she’d be right back. I prayed I wouldn’t wet the bed before she returned—because I had to pee like nobody has ever had to pee before. When she finally returned, 23 years had passed.

We got back to the room after stopping at a bathroom, and sitting in a chair in the room was Ella, smiling hesitantly. “Your mom called me and said you were in the ER and that I should be here.” She said as she grabbed my hand.

“I hadn’t told her we broke up, yet because this happened as soon as I got home. You didn’t have to come.” I said.

A nurse came in and said she was here to give me morphine. Thanks to the modern medicine gods! It felt like a tiny elf with a knife was trying to cut his or her way out of my inside. As she connected morphine through my IV, her face suddenly looked very worried. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

I realized I was sinking into my bed like it was quicksand and I couldn’t get up. “Feeling heavy! Feeling heavy! Feeling heavy.” I started to say on repeat. The nurse asked if I was feeling nauseous or dizzy or having a shortness of breath. I shook my head and repeated that I was feeling heavy. The nurse ran out of the room. What was happening? Was I dying? Was the hospital in a sink hole? I looked at Ella and my mom who also looked worried. “What’s happening?” I asked them. Except it came out sounding more like “washthapnin?” They both smiled a very unhelpful smile, as the nurse ran back in and put something else in my iv.

“I’m giving you benadryl. It seems you are allergic to morphine.” She explained. According to my mom and Ella, my chest, neck, and face had turned blotchy red which explains why they all looked so worried. But by the time anyone explained this to me, I didn’t care at all. I felt amazing. I was soaring in clouds and everything was perfect. Morphine was the best!

Just then, a beautiful angel floated into the room. She introduced herself as Dr. McMyFutureWife and said she was an OBGYN and was going to give me an exam. She asked my mom and Ella to leave the room so we could be alone. She asked me some questions—she sure wanted to know a lot of very personal things about me, considering this was just our first date. She started explaining some super smart science-y medical stuff but I was too busy imagining our wedding to fully listen. She then called in a nurse and we were no longer alone. “Can you scoot towards me?” she asked in a soft sweet voice. I scooted towards her. “Not that close, just so your bottom hangs off the table a little.” She corrected. I hesitantly scooted back a little. Then she said, “The first thing you will feel is my touch.” I said “OKAY!” with probably too much enthusiasm considering that I would soon discover that what she had just explained to me was the process of what would be my second pap smear and annual exam of the day. Sure enough, I did feel her touch and then she poked and it hurt and she poked again and it hurt even more. “BAD TOUCH!” I yelled.

“Is that uncomfortable? When I press there?” As she pressed again.

“Um yeah, if by uncomfortable—you mean it hurts!” I said.

Dr. McMyFutureWife and I were in our first fight. She was beginning to look less like the floating angel I thought she was. But at least she hadn’t knocked the speculum and yelled at me like Dr. Jerkface from earlier in the day. She finished the exam and called my mom and Ella back in the room. She gave some long explanation and said she’d wait for the CT scan to confirm some things. And then she left.

I turned to Ella. “I’m sorry you had to see that.” I said. She looked at me puzzled.  “I mean the doctor and I clearly have chemistry—and you and I JUST broke up.” I explained.

“You’re high.” Ella said, laughing as she patted my head.

“High on love!” I sang.

“Okay dummy, whatever you say.” Ella kissed my forehead and said she was going to grab some food and would be back.

After the CT scan, Dr. McMyFutureWife came back to the room and reported that I had fluids around my ovaries and they suspected a cyst ruptured last night and the pain I was feeling today was from both the excess fluid having nowhere to go and a condition called mittelschmerz. (which I’m pretty sure somebody just made up.)  Dr. McMyFutureWife gave me her card and told me to call her anytime. I winked at her, still high on morphine, and said “My mittelschmerz and I will definitely be calling you.” Ella grabbed me and said “Let’s go, Captain Mittelschmerz.” And we went to Steak ‘N Shake like recent exes do after a day in the hospital together.


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