When Your Stomach Blows Up

When Your Stomach Blows Up

Did you know that people with mild to severe psoriasis are more at risk for abdominal aneurysms? I say to my girlfriend, as she's about to leave for work.

That's when the aorta in your stomach ruptures, just blows up, I tell her. With little to no warning.

She tells me to put some Shea butter on my psoriasis if it's bothering me, sort of avoiding my question, I notice.

Have a great day! she calls back before the door slams behind her.

Symptoms of a rupture, I tell the cat, include pain in the abdomen or back, possibly spreading to the groin. But they can also include clammy skin, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, and shock. Tell me, and be honest, little cat, do I look like I'm in shock?

The cat meows.

Aneurysms can develop slowly over many years, often with no symptoms, I tell the Dominican mother and son who run the bodega across the street where I buy a banana. They like me because my girlfriend speaks Spanish with them. The man calls me papi.

Only one in five people survive a ruptured abdominal aneurysm, I tell the subway conductor when he’s peering outside the train to make sure people stand clear of the closing doors.

People sixty-five and over who haven’t smoked should get an ultrasound done, I tell the man standing next to me on the A train.

Now, I know that doesn’t include me, I say, but do you think my skin is clammy? Here, feel my skin and tell me if I’m clammy, or else you’ll have to deal with the consequences. We’re going under the East River, so I’d like to get this sorted. I'm a little clammy, right?

Don't be alarmed, sir. I just need you to put your hand on my forehead. That's all. It's a simple request.

Or put your ear to my heart and tell me if my heart rate seems rapid to you. It seems a bit rapid, doesn’t it? It feels rapid. Boom, boom, it's going.

Do you ever worry about death? I say to the kid sitting next to me. What happens after we die? I really want to know. Do you believe in heaven? Hell? Universal salvation? Nothingness? Reincarnation? Do we have souls?

Well, it’s time for your son to start thinking about these things, ma’am. Okay, bye, have a good time at summer camp! Death is a long way off for you, I hope. I mean, I can’t make any promises. It could come at any time. You're playing kickball, bam, it’s all over. 

On the contrary, ma'am, I think I'm excellent with children. Children love me. Children adore me.

Hey, kid over there, you and I could be friends, right? We could get along pretty well, if we had to. We could definitely be friends. Maybe not friends, more like a big brother situation where I give you words of wisdom and encouragement and advice and tell you to stop annoying me.

Alrighty then. I'm just going to sit here and focus on my breathing. In and out, in and out. Oooh, that's relaxing. I'm relaxed now. I think I'm okay. I think I'm better. I'm going to focus on the good. Focus on the positive. I'm alive now, that's what matters.

I'm not going to let fear get to me.

You, sir, how do you deal with fear? You seem to be sweating profusely. Are you okay? Are you afraid? Oh, you're getting off at my stop. This is a good stop. Do you want to sit down? You're shaking. Okay, calm down.

What's the matter? No, I don't think you should jump in front of the next train. I don't think that's a good idea. It's not worth it. That train isn't going fast enough. You'd want to wait for a faster train and probably go down to the other end of the platform since when it enters the station it's going the fastest.

But this is all irrelevant. We're going to get you help. I know, it's a scary world out there, frightening. I completely understand. You're overwhelmed. But there's people who can help you.

That lady over here is going to go find people who can help you. There are lots of things waiting out there to get you, to kill you, so why do it in front of this train? It's too messy. And you'll delay other people.

Don't worry, here are the EMTs. Okay, you're in good hands. It's going to be okay. I mean, I really hope so. I don't like to lie about these things. I don't know what the rate of success for therapy is, but I'd like to think it's high, if you can afford it. Bye!

Did you know only half of all Americans experiencing a major depressive episode receive treatment? I say to the barista when I buy my coffee. Yeah, I just learned that now. It's crazy. Isn't that crazy?