Return to Sender

I want to wish you a happy new year and celebrate all those hopeful feelings that January usually brings. Dearest friend, I want to.

No, I take that back. I do wish you the happiest, healthiest, most productive year yet. I hope 2020 brings you happiness, exciting challenges, good health, and blessings galore.

For my part, though, I’d like to send 2020 back and get a fresh one. I think mine is defective.

See, here’s the thing. Are you familiar with an angry little organ called a gallbladder? I had heard of it. I knew I had one. As far as I knew, my gallbladder was working fine – storing the bile, sending the bile, like a gallbladder does.

What I didn’t know was that my gallbladder had been plotting mutiny against me for years. Unbeknownst to me, it had operated in quiet rebellion for years, plotting its own little Shawshank from the shadow of my liver.

I will never forget the evening of December 28, when the my gallbladder unleashed its relentless fury. My son and I had spent much of the day celebrating my nephew’s birthday. There were bacon cheese fries. This is important.

That evening, we had a mini-reunion at an escape room with my son’s best friend from preschool and her mom. This was a meetup we’d both been looking forward to for months. But by the time we checked in and signed the disclaimers, I knew trouble was brewing.

At first I thought it was a digestive challenge, if you will. A rumble here, a pang there. I tried to make small talk and smile, hoping to avoid embarrassment. After the kids solved the first clue, though, I was covered head to toe in sweat and would have sworn somebody had stabbed me just below my right rib cage. We made our way through the escape room, the kids chattering away while I sat wherever I could find a corner, argued with myself over whether or not I should call an ambulance, and continued breathing in and out.

I couldn’t tell you much else about the escape room other than the kids finished it and I made it out alive. After the group photo, I apologized to our friends and my son and explained that we wouldn’t be going out for coffee later because I might be dying.

My husband hadn’t joined us at the escape room because he had the flu. But when I called him, that sweet man jumped out of bed and drove me to the ER without a single complaint.

Six hours, multiple failed IV attempts and a ridiculously painful ultrasound later, I was sent home with prescriptions for pain and nausea meds and a diagnosis from the ER doc: “You have gallstones, so eventually your gallbladder will need to come out. We can’t take it out because you’re not that bad yet. But here’s a phone number for a surgeon you can call when it is.” Not. That. Bad. Yet.

Y’all, over the course of my life I’ve been in car wrecks, poured boiling water on my hand, stepped on Legos and gave birth to a child. I have never been in worse pain than I was that night.

Apparently, those cheese fries were the last straw. I called surgeon and have a consultation in three weeks. Three. Weeks. But now I’m afraid to eat anything because I do not want to anger the beast that lives in my upper right quadrant.

So back to the point of my (really whiny and complain-y) post: Happy New Year and I love y’all, but I’m feeling like a ticking time bomb and I’d like a do-over of 2020 please. Thanks 🙂

Published by Kell McKinney

I write middle grade and picture book stories. Member of SCBWI. Former marketing manager for a company people love to hate.

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