March 5th, 2012
The Tucker Max Stories
Tucker ruptures appendix, hilarity ensues
This is the story of my ruptured appendix and the subsequent trips to the hospital to try and fix it.
On the Friday morning that MTV was in Chicago filming me, around 4am, my appendix ruptured. The pain was so intense it woke me from my sleep. It felt like my lower right abdomen had been stabbed with a rusty serrated kitchen knife and twisted around in my gut.
I’m not sure how many Motrin I took, but it was well above the recommended dosage. If by “well above” I mean “half the bottle.” For the rest of the time MTV filmed me, about 2 more days, I was in such incredible pain I nearly finished a bottle of Motrin. There are 100 to a bottle-kids, don’t try this at home.
At the behest of my friends, many of them doctors, I decided to go to the ER. This decision was sealed by my conversation with Andrew, a surgery resident, “Dude, you could be in real trouble. You shouldn’t play around with internal injuries. You need to go to the hospital. Like drop what you’re doing and go immediately.” That was at 11pm on Sunday night, and I went to ER right away.
I arrived at Cook County Hospital, parked my car and got in line to register at the desk. Right before the triage nurse got to me, a screaming ambulance pulled up and unloaded a bleeding gunshot victim. I am not sure how many times he was shot, but I saw at least three holes. They even had to call a janitor to come wash blood off the floor.
At this scene, the triage nurse didn’t even look up, and handed me my number. It is–I swear to god–187. I looked at my number, watched the paramedic disappear down the hallway with the low-rent Tupac, and walked right out the door. No fucking way. I don’t believe in the supernatural and I’m not even the least bit superstitious, but some signs should not be ignored.
I was in agony all day the next day. I was laying on my sofa at around 10pm when a tsunami of agony crashed over me. Nothing I’ve ever experienced prepared me for this pain. I have broken an arm, some ribs and a hand, torn a rotator cuff, hyper-extended both knees, severely sprained both ankles, popped an eardrum, torn off finger nails, stepped on carpenter nails, had a planar wart, etc, etc, so I thought I had experienced a wide and representative spectrum of pain. I was wrong.
It was so crippling it took every bit of courage I had to reach from the sofa to the table, pick up my phone, and call TheRoommate. He was in his bedroom.
Roommate “Tucker, why are you calling me from the living room?”
Tucker [barely audible whisper] “…hospital…”
Roommate “Oh shit! OK, OK, hold on!”
By the time we got to Cook County I was almost in shock the pain was so bad. A nurse rolled a wheel chair out to the car, brought me straight into the triage room and was about to take me back to the ER, when another nurse told her to instead take me to the nurses station to take my blood pressure and temperature.
On the way there she bumped me into every single chair, wall and assorted encumbrance along the way. I groaned in pain at every nudge, each rattling my appendix at what felt like an 8 on the Richter scale. We got to the nurses’ station where the nurse, who was Asian and spoke a sort of broken ghetto English, put me in line behind 6 people.
I gaze at these people, and none seem to have critical, life-threatening internal injuries. This infuriated me. A rush of adrenalin enabled me to muster a voice loud enough to completely silence the entire front of the Cook County Emergency Room:
Tucker “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? WHY AM I HERE? MY FUCKING APPENDIX EXPLODED AND YOU WANT ME TO WAIT BEHIND SLAPPY AND HIS IN-GROWN TOENAIL?”
Nurse “You’re in pain?”
Tucker [This question inspires such utter disbelief I can only resort to my basest reaction] “ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID?”
Nurse [Remember, this is in broken ghetto Asian] “HEY–You don got to be rude. I’n just try-ing to hep you. You don got to disrespect. How much it hurt?”
Tucker “MY APPENDIX EXPLODED–MY FUCKING STOMACH FEELS LIKE SOMEONE FUCKING STABBED ME. HOW WOULD LIKE IT IF SOMEONE STUCK A KNIFE IN YOUR STOMACH? YOU WOULDN’T BE IN A GOOD MOOD EITHER, MAMA-SON.”
Nurse “YOU GONNA STAB ME? [Turns to other nurses] “HEY SHANDA, HE TELL ME HE GONNA STAB ME!”
Nurse 2 [Comes over to investigate] “You say you gonna stab her?”
Tucker [I try to be calm about this] “I didn’t say I was going to stab her I was describing what my pain was like.”
Nurse “HE SAY HE GONNA STAB ME. HE SAY HE GONNA STICK KNIFE IN MY STOMACH.”
Tucker [And there goes my patience] “I DIDN’T FUCKING SAY I WAS GONNA STAB YOU. LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH GODDAMNIT! I WAS DESCRIBING MY PAIN YOU IDIOT!”
Nurse “HE CALL ME IDIOT TOO!”
Nurse2 “Sir, you need to be respectful or we are going to call the police, and you–”
This was my breaking point. I just turned and started rolling my wheel chair towards the ER. The pain was still intense but my adrenaline is so high I was able to manage it. I guess the nurses decide to go along because the ghetto Asian started pushing me towards the ER. She lectured me the whole way to the ER about respect, telling everyone she saw how I threatened to stab her.
We got to the actual ER area and she rolled me into one of the triage rooms and handed me off to an ER nurse.
ER Nurse “So what’s his problem?”
Nurse “He call me idiot and say he gonna stab me.”
ER Nurse [Turns to me] “Did you threaten to stab her?”
Tucker “What? My fucking appendix burst.”
Nurse “He say he gonna stick a knife in my stomach.”
ER Nurse “Did you say you were going to stick a knife in her stomach?”
Tucker [I am wincing in pain through this whole thing] “What? What is this? NO! She asked me what my pain felt like and I said it felt like I got stabbed. I’M THE ONE IN PAIN!”
They laid me on a gurney and instead of attending to me and my pain, continued discussing my abusive and threatening behavior. Honestly, does anything ever go normally for me?
Two doctors arrived almost immediately, a male attending and a female resident. They questioned me, poked my abdomen, etc, when the male doctor asked me to roll onto my side:
Tucker “Roll on my side? What for?”
Doctor “I need to check your prostate.”
Tucker “WHAT?????? WITH YOUR HAND??
Tucker “IN MY BUTT??”
Doctor “I have to, you may have serious colon or prostate problems, and the only way to check those is by hand.”
Tucker “Well this is just FUCKING GREAT.”
As he put on a rubber glove, the female resident was snickering at my comments, even though I was not finding them very funny at the moment. He turned to her and pointed for her to go on the outside of the curtain. I interrupt:
Tucker “Actually, doctor, can she do it? If I’m going to have fingers up my ass, I’d rather have them be female. You know–they’re smaller, more petite…you know…less gay.
He was completely taken aback at this request. The shock was evident on his face, and for a second I even thought he would agree to it,
Doctor “No. Sorry.”
Tucker “Well, she can stay anyway. Fuck it. Might as well invite everyone to my party.”
I didn’t need this. I really didn’t fucking need this. I couldn’t stop thinking, especially as he wiggled two fingers into my anal cavity and pressed them against my prostate, about how I’ll have to change the part in The Most Disturbing Conversation Ever story about my anal virginity.
The ER doctors eventually decided that I had a burst appendix and needed to get prepped for surgery. Never could I have imagined that the words, “prep him for surgery” would have such horrific consequences.
A male Hispanic nurse began prepping me. He took off my clothes, put me in a hospital gown, took various measurements like blood pressure and what not, hooked me up to an IV needle that was only slightly smaller in diameter than PVC pipe, and refused to give me any painkillers, because he said that they might affect the anesthesia.
At this point, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. My appendix was absolutely killing me, I had no painkillers, there were numerous needles stuck in me, my ass was still greasy from some guy putting his KY covered fingers in my rectum, some guy was undressing me–really–what the fuck else could go wrong?
The nurse told me to pull my gown off my crotch and took out a long tube. It is called a Foley Catheter, and it is used to drain your bladder when it is not under your control, either because you are unconscious (for surgery) or cannot control it yourself (paralyzation). I measured it later, and it is exactly 16 inches long.
I took one look at that garden hose he was holding and my heart stopped. I’d rather get fucked in the ass with a telephone pole then take that thing up my urethra. I have heard absolute horror tales about what that thing feels like going up your dick.
Tucker “No, no, no-You aren’t putting that thing in my dick are you? Please god in heaven tell me no.”
Nurse “Yeah, man. Got to–It’s how you piss when you’re in surgery.”
I didn’t even have it in me to put up a fight. I was too scared. I just grabbed the side rails of the gurney and held the fuck on. This is an approximation of my reaction:
It went on like that for a few seconds. When the blaze of anguish stopped, I wiped the forming tears from my eyes and looked down, expecting to see a yellow tube sticking out from my penis.
Tucker “What the fuck? Hey man–where is it?”
Nurse “That one was too big, I’m gonna have to go with a 16 gauge instead of a 14.”
This did not please me, and I expressed my feelings with a string of furious profanity such as would make a longshoreman proud. He eventually got the second one into my urethra, and I wasn’t thinking about my abdominal pain anymore. I never really understood the phrase “pissing out razor blades” until this experience. The act of inserting that firehose into my penis was so horribly painful it made me forget what was, to that point, the worst pain of my life. Even writing this is making my dick hurt. Or maybe that’s the herpes. Who knows?
I laid there for another few hours, without painkillers, waiting to get a CatScan. Every time I moved the catheter shifted (it was taped to my leg) resulting in a whole new wave of pain and misery. The strangest thing about the catheter was that the collection bag was laying right there on the bed next to me. I watched it fill up with dark yellow urine, yet couldn’t control or feel the flow. It was weird. But it felt warm against my leg, which was nice.
Right before the CatScan, one of the nurses handed me a huge tube of liquid and told me to drink it. I had no idea what it was, but the label didn’t sound appetizing:
Tucker “Barium Sulfate?”
Nurse “It’s an imaging agent. It’s so the CatScan can get a map of your intestines.”
They might was well call it Cum in a Bottle. It was white, cloudy and viscous, with a disturbing salty taste. You know what it tasted like? You know when a girl goes down on you and swallows, and then comes up and wants to kiss you? You try to avoid the kiss but if she is persistent there is nothing you can do so you give her a little peck. You know that taste on your lips right after? Hello Barium Sulfate.
This was very nearly my breaking point, “This tastes like semen. Haven’t you people humiliated me enough? Should I just dump this on my face so you can get some Bukkake shots for the Cook County website. Would that make you happy?”
I eventually got the CatScan and waited another hour or so for the consult with the surgeon. She looked at the pics and decided they weren’t going to operate on me, because my appendix had not burst but rather had ruptured, and a leaking abscess had formed on it. This meant that there was a huge pocket of puss around that section of my colon and they couldn’t operate without having to do an entire colonectomy. The ensuing conversation was alarming, even to me:
Doctor “When did the pain start?”
Tucker “About a week ago.”
Doctor “A week! Why did you wait so long to come in?”
Tucker “I don’t know…MTV was filming me.”
Doctor “MTV was filming you?”
Tucker “It would take too long to explain.”
Doctor “So you just endured the pain?”
Tucker “Yeah, pretty much. Motrin helped. And lots of alcohol.”
Doctor “Hmph. Well, just so you know, you could very easily have died. As it stands, you are going to be fine, but you were about 2 days away from sepsis setting in and killing you. That was stupid of you to wait this long.”
Tucker “Yeah, I’m not very smart.”
The same male Hispanic nurse came in to de-prep me and get me ready for transport to my room. One of the de-prepping activities was too take out the catheter. The removal hurt, but nothing like the entry. After he pulled it out this nasty thick yellow discharge followed it out.
Tucker “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? DID YOU GIVE ME THE CLAP?
Nurse “Yeah, you got the clap from a sterile catheter. It’s just dehydrated urine. You’re fine.”
Tucker “Whatever. Dick. You ever have one of those in you?”
Nurse “No. But I’ll tell you what-I’ve inserted hundreds of those and I’ve never seen anyone scream like more of a bitch than you.”
Tucker “So now you’re the fucking comedian? Hey Paul Rodriguez-I swear to god, you better not be around when they discharge me. I’ll find you, and broke appendix or not, I’ll kick your fucking ass.”
Nurse “Whatever. You’ll just scream like a bitch.”
Had I been able to stand, I think he and I would have fought.
Right after this little spat, another nurse came in and shot like 15cc’s of morphine into my IV. WOW-I can see why that shit is addictive. I could literally feel the drug course through my veins and almost instantaneously a flowery opiate-induced calm came over me. I went from angry pain to ethereal joy in about 2 minutes. I even apologized to the Hispanic nurse the next time I saw him.
[Side note about morphine: Everyone who called me or saw me over the next two days when I was in the hospital can attest to the fact that I was the nicest they have ever heard me. If I could find a drug that gave me that feeling on a regular basis, I would be an addict, and happy about it. The funny thing was, I now know what it means when heroin users talk about "chasing the dragon." In only a day the normal dosage of that stuff was not enough. I was asking for more and more, pushing that call button like it brought me a fat-titted hooker carrying a plate of juicy pork ribs, screaming at the nurses if they didn't get it to me fast enough. They had to switch me to codeine, which is apparently easier to stop taking. I have what's called an "addictive personality."]
Once I was fully de-prepped, they wheeled me up to my room. I was put in a room with another person, but it was dark when I got there, and I was so flush with morphine I ignored my roommate and went to sleep.
I woke up to quite the scene. And smell. There were two large black nurses holding my roommate up while they cleaned shit out from under him and changed his sheets. They were not happy:
Nurse1 “Why you keep shitting like this?”
Nurse2 “It’s something he ate. What you eat?”
The guy pointed to some Fritos laying on the table.
Nurse2 “No, it ain’t no Fritos.”
He pointed to a Pepsi.
Nurse2 “No, it ain’t no goddamn Pepsi neither. It must be them damn carrots, because you straight up lettin’ out vegetation.”
They eventually got him cleaned up and left. I looked him over, and the sight was not pretty. He was black, anywhere from 40 to 50 years of age, Tracey Gold skinny, and had half of his head shaved. He didn’t seem to be able to use his right side, and did everything with his left hand. He saw me looking at him and nodded his head at me in a “what up” manner. I responded, and said, “What’s up man? Having a tough day?”
He opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, each time letting out little grunts. Eventually, with much effort, he got a slurred, “Yeah” out. Shaved head, can’t talk, can only move his left side–he either had a stroke or a brain tumor.
He and I talked for awhile, and I eventually learned how to interpret at least some of his affected stroke speech. We were talking about something when a girl I know called my room. I told her where I was and she said she was coming over. My roommate was listening to the conversation and waved at me to get my attention, then pulled his sheet up over his crotch, tenting it, and clearly said, “Me…too” I laughed and told her to bring a friend for my crippled roommate.
Later that day his speech therapist came in, and she was pretty hot. She said, “Hello Randolph, how are you today?”
This cracked me up, “Your name is Randolph? RANDOPLH! Your nickname is Ray-Ray, isn’t it!?!” Ray-Ray started laughing along with me, and this thoroughly confused the speech therapist.
By this time I was fairly proficient in interpreting Ray-Ray’s stroke grunts, and I spent the half hour telling her what he was saying, hitting on her and making fun of her,
Tucker “You’re a speech therapist and you can’t understand your own patient? Did you get your degree in the mail? Is there a picture of Sally Struthers on your diploma?”
As she leaves, we have this exchange:
Tucker “So, you’re pretty hot, can I get your number?”
Therapist “Sorry, no-I wouldn’t give you my zip code.”
Tucker “Nice. That’s cool, because I’d rather be deaf than listen to you for another second.”
Ray-Ray was nearly in tears laughing at this scene. He eventually got this out, “We…we…we…make…a good team.”
Watching him eat his lunch really made me empathize with the poor guy. Every time he tried to eat, he would put the food in the left side of his mouth, and then half of it would spill out the right side. He had no feeling on that side of his face, or his entire right side, so he really had no idea what was happening.
On one level it was funny, because there was this guy dumping half his food out of his mouth without knowing it, but on another level it was very depressing, as he seemed like a really good guy that was suffering through a horrible fate.
He was so skinny, presumably from months of inactivity and confinement to his bed, that over the next few days I gave him all of my hospital meals. Granted, it was empathetic on some level, but believe me, it was no fucking loss for me. Every stereotype you’ve ever heard about hospital food is true. I would have rather eaten medical waste than the shit they served us. Though Ray-Ray loved it. I guess brain injuries make you hungry.
Later that night Stydie and Laura stopped by with, of all things, Harolds Chicken. I don’t think I have ever been so fucking happy to see Stydie, as Harold’s is nearly my favorite food on earth. That shit stunk up my entire wing of the hospital, but I devoured it without compunction.
After Stydie and Laura left another girl came to visit me. She brought me a Playboy, and I gave that to Ray-Ray to look at while she and I, well, did things I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I believe the term “medicinal head” should be added to the medical lexicon, because I know I felt better.
I heard Ray-Ray hit his nurse call button, and then a very familiar smell permeated the room. Though my curtain was pulled, I heard them clearly:
Nurse “Oh look–you done shit yourself again.”
Nurse “You eating Fritos in bed again? Why you eaten Fritos in da bed? Can’t you get none in your mouff?”
[The girl and I were laughing at this exchange, and we could hear her moving Ray-Ray to another gurney]
Nurse “Goddammit. I told you to stop eating that damn candy. Look at this bed.”
Ray-Ray “I…I…I want…”
Nurse “Shut up!”
The girl who came to see me left halfway through this because we were done, she had to get home to her boyfriend, and the smell was oppressive. After she left and the nurse got everything back to normal, Ray-Ray looked over at me and said:
Ray-Ray “I…I…I…ruined…your date.”
Tucker “No man, it’s cool, she was done anyway.”
Ray-Ray [He laughed for awhile before he got this out] “You…you…alright…man.”
The Playboy was a pretty good one (the one with the Latin TV stars), and I enjoyed it for our remaining day and a half together. When I was leaving I asked Ray-Ray if he wanted to keep the Playboy. He shook his head yes, and said,
“I…I…I gonna need it.”