Weekend Open Thread

Image by Andrew Condell

Hi, I haven’t done a weekend open thread in a while, but I wanted to share a quick personal story and invite you to share anything that might be on your mind. This was a wild week in my family – probably the most harrowing of my life. On Monday morning, after we got the kids off the school, Drew suddenly experienced some pain in his abdomen that intensified so quickly, I had him in the back of an ambulance within thirty minutes. During the ride, the pain continued to increase, and I worried that if whatever was causing him the pain didn’t kill him, he might have a fatal heart attack instead. It was like a scene from a movie – Drew told me his good-byes and that he loved me and the kids and all of that. I felt myself sort of split into two – there was the part that was terrified, which I boxed up and put on a shelf, and the part that knew if he was going to make it through this I had to remain calm, take charge, and make sure he got the urgent care he needed.

Let me say, an emergency room in NYC at the height of a Covid surge and a bunch of other respiratory illnesses knocking people down is not for the faint of heart. The staff who wade through the illness and emergencies on a daily basis have my utmost respect and gratitude. One nurse in particular – Jeffrey – was an angel in the midst of chaos. When I asked him what the timeline was for a doctor to see Drew and he told me several hours, I looked him in the eyes and said, “I don’t think my husband has that long,” and he believed me. He asked what his symptoms were, and he said, “It sounds like he may have an incarcerated hernia,” which, miraculously, is something he himself had survived years earlier and so he immediately understood the gravity of the situation.

An incarcerated hernia isn’t just a regular hernia; if you are or someone you love is ever unlucky enough to be in this situation, you have about six hours to get into emergency surgery or you risk losing your intestine and potentially your life. “Your husband is the sickest person here right now. I’ll move him to the top of the priority list,” Nurse Jeffrey said. Even so, we were there for almost six hours before Drew was wheeled into surgery. One more hour and his surgeon said Drew might not be here now.

But he’s here. He’s here, and we have so much to be grateful for. After a few days in the hospital, Drew is back home recovering. He will need another surgery in three months to finish the job (things were too delicate to do a full repair on Monday and he needs to heal a bit before more surgery), but he is going to be ok. I am processing the feelings I had to suppress on Monday – like, “How am I going to tell the kids their father has died?” I was told that sharing the story helps lessen its power, so I am sharing here with you. And also explaining why there wasn’t a new column this week. Between shuttling the kids to school and visiting the hospital and running the household without the help I am used to from Drew, I haven’t had much energy left. But I am optimistic things will settle down after a restful long weekend and we can get back to semi-normal next week.

I hope all of you have had less dramatic starts to 2024, and if you want to share, I’ll be happy to hear what you’ve been up to lately, what you’re looking forward to this year, or if you, too, have experienced a similar medical emergency to what Drew (and I) went through and what comforted you as you recovered.


  1. OMG. That’s so scary! I am glad Drew is okay. At first I was thinking appendicitis, which I had years ago… it was well before COVID, and I’m pretty sure my appendix ruptured while I waited in the ER for probably… I wanna say it was at least eight hours (my mom booked the next train to my city, which takes 5-6 hours, and arrived just as I was being admitted). I was by myself and hospital staff sat me in a wheelchair facing away from the front desk. At one point after hours of waiting, I got up to ask how much longer it would be… an old couple seated across from me saw how painful it was for me to get up and make that short walk to the desk and started advocating for me. I cry when I think of them. I’m glad Drew had you to advocate for him. I hope he recovers swiftly from his surgery, with no complications, and that your family has a restful weekend.

    In other news, we’re dog sitting my dad’s dog while he’s in Mexico for a month. It’s the same dog we fostered last March/April. He’s SO stinking cute but still young and very active. I always forget how much work dogs can be, especially when they’re still puppy-ish, cause our dog is six going on 100 and super chill. Anyway, my dad’s dog is helping me get my walks in every day, which I appreciate as someone who hates January.

    1. I’m so sorry you had to navigate the ER alone. I don’t know how one would even do that.

      How cute that you can dogsit for a bit and have more motivation to get out for January walks. I still walk Jackson to school every morning and think of that walk in the same way in terms of getting some steps in and getting fresh air (it’s about 1 1/2 miles roundtrip). He walks himself home, but the morning walk is during rush hour and there’s a big thoroughfare that he has to cross so Im not pushing him to do it alone and he hasn’t asked so I just keep walking with him. This time of year there are some days when that’s the most outdoor time I’m getting.

      After I dropped him off this past Monday, I was going to walk to Trader Joe’s and pick up a few things. TJ’s is like two miles from his school – so a bit of a hike, – and I thought if I walked there, I could take the subway home and I’d have all my miles in for the day and could take it easy after that. I started walking in the direction of TJs, but then suddenly decided I was feeling too lazy for all that and I went home instead. And that’s when I found Drew, curled in a fetal position and moaning in pain. I think, given how quickly everything progressed, had I gone to TJ’s, Drew wouldn’t be here right now. So wild to think about…

      1. After my mom showed up, she started raising hell on my behalf. I was admitted on a Monday, they scheduled my surgery for Tuesday. Then pushed it out. Then pushed it out again. She got me the good drugs. She got them to do the surgery. When they wanted to do something surgically experimental (I was in the roughly 30 percent of people whose appendix is not in the lower right quadrant, and the initial surgery plan suggested was bizarre), she said no the fuck you won’t do it that way. Anyway, having someone there pushing for my care was the most comforting thing and I’m so glad you were able to do so with Drew, and even more glad that the nurse took you seriously. I never realized how important it was to have an advocate at the hospital until I was the patient. I felt dismissed a lot during my ordeal, which I suspect is common (particularly for women!), including when I had a post-op infection that was overlooked. I think I would’ve gone septic had my mom not been there.

        I’ve told my boyfriend which medications I’m allergic to, occasionally I’ll ask him what they are out of the blue to make sure he remembers, and we’ve joked that if we get married, that’s what will be engraved on his ring.

  2. Holy shit. How amazing that the nurse had experienced the same thing and knew what it was. So glad to hear Drew is all right after such a close call. Terrifying.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, it was very fortuitous that that nurse had exactly the same thing Drew had – which is quite rare – and recognized the symptoms (which, honestly, sound like so many other things, like appendicitis or a gallbladder attack – those were the two I was thinking). Nurse Jeffrey felt like my/our/Drew’s guardian angel. I will forever be grateful.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yeah I would believe he was an angel, or delivered an angel message.

      2. Absolutely an angel! I’m so glad Drew is on the mend. I can’t imagine.

        I think I had one near death. I still remember the gentleman who reached out and grabbed me back on the curb, saving me from a car who ran a red light. It was my first winter in Chicago. He’s my angel. Or really, I like to think my sister was somewhere up there watching out for me and nudge the who helped me.

      3. I believe your sister watches over your whole family.

      4. Someone was definitely looking out for your family too!

  3. HeartsMum says:

    I’m so glad you were there to advocate for your husband. That experience was huge and the times I’ve been involved in medical trauma (more slow-motion), it’s helped me to acknowledge it, not just keep that cool-calm-in-a-crisis head on afterwards. I know that’s obvious, but you are probably busy dealing with medical and family follow-up. Best wishes.

  4. Oh my gosh, what a scary story! I hope Drew continues to do well in his recovery and your family soon gets past this.

  5. Hi Wendy. I am so glad everything turned out as well as it did. I am curious if Drew had any type of symptoms before, even something mild that was brushed off, but you know now was part of his health issue? Or was this totally ” out of the blue?”

  6. LisforLeslie says:

    Holy shit – that’s terrifying. I was really lucky when I had to go to the ER in NYC, I was usually seen pretty quickly – but I also wasn’t in super emergency mode, just “something is very wrong” mode. Both times they did initial tests quickly and then came back with next steps within the hour. I’m glad you had a knowledgeable and kind nurse in Jefferey. Consider sending a note to the hospital on his behalf.

    I’m glad Drew is on the upswing.

    1. Yes, the ER was absolutely packed. Jeffrey said he had never seen it like that before. I do plan on getting a note to Jeffrey/the hospital thanking him. I don’t think Drew would have survived without his help. At the least, Drew’s quality of life would be pretty impaired had he not gotten into emergency surgery when he did.

      1. I would call HR at the hospital and see if they participate in the Daisy award program. Jeffery definitely deserves one. Most patients and families don’t know about the daisy award, but it’s worth it to take a minute and look it up. I’m glad your hubby is on the mend.

      2. I’ve never heard of that, but I’ll look it up – thank you!

      3. Ok, just submitted a nomination, and learned that my husband did so on his own recently, too. I also called the ED and spoke to the charge nurse and she was really happy to hear my gratitude and promised to share with Jeffrey and the whole team. 🙂

  7. Part-time Lurker says:

    I’m so sorry you and Drew had to go through this Wendy. Glad to hear he’s on the mend.

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