By Kelly Hines
It’s Sunday morning, and I’m doing the Sunday morning shuffle – tying shoes and brushing hair and zipping dresses and telling my son that no, no you cannot wear a three piece wool suit to church in 95 degree weather, even if you do look really handsome – when my husband calls to me from our bathroom.
“Hey, Kel, come take a look at this,” he says. He holds out his right knee, which is a mass of bumps and lumps. The veins are bulging down through the front of his calf. “Oh my LORD!,” I yell in my typical calm and collected manner, “That looks terrible!”
He shrugs it off and makes a passing remark that maybe, sometime in the next few days, if it still looks like someone has injected Jell-O into his leg, he might go see a doctor.
Oh no, my friend. You’re going to see Dr. Google right now.
As everyone continues to get ready for church, I furiously type keywords into mama’s favorite search engine. ‘Knee looks like Jell-O’ turns up nothing. ‘Big veiny hairy leg’ turns up results that no person wants to see, ever. ‘Swollen veins in leg’ brings up the result I’ve been waiting for.
“It’s DVT! You need to get to the doctor right away!,” I launch into a discourse about the dangers of deep vein thrombosis and an anatomy lesson on the circulatory system. Both subjects I am now an expert on, thanks to Wikipedia.
“It’s not DVT,” he says. “I’m not going to have a heart attack.”
“Actually,” I correct him, “You’re going to have a pulmonary embolism.”
“I haven’t been sitting for long periods or just had surgery or anything like that.” Apparently, he’s seen the same commercials for DVT that I have.
“You sat in your recliner yesterday and watched three movies back to back while I took care of the kids!” Even as I’m sure he’s close to death, I can’t help but get a dig in. “You’re going to urgent care, right now.”
“Now you’re a doctor?” he argues, but I can see he’s starting to get scared.
“I don’t need to be a doctor,” I say, “I have Google.” This seems to convince him, and he heads off to urgent care while I take the kids to church. I pray extra hard for his health, and wonder if I should go ahead and start a meal train for when he’s in the hospital. When friends ask where he is, I throw out phrases like, “worried he’s going to throw a clot,” and “venous insufficiency”. I steer clear of anyone who is actually in the medical profession.
As soon as we get in the car, I call his cell phone, sure that it will go straight to voicemail. I picture him lying in a hospital bed, a blue gown tied loosely around him, a team of veinologists (that’s what they’re called, right?) surrounding him.
“It’s a good thing you came in, Mr. Hines,” they nod gravely. “Your wife has likely saved your life.”
The phone rings only twice before he picks up. “Did they go ahead and admit you? What is that weird sizzling noise?”
“Bacon, bro,” he smacks in my ear. “I’m making breakfast. Hurry up, the biscuits are almost done.”
“Varicose veins,” he tells me when I get home. It’s a diagnosis I didn’t even consider. That’s it, varicose veins? No hospital stay? No meal train? No credit for my life saving Googling skills? “Yeah, I told the PA you Googled it and she said that meant I was going to die,” he laughed. I imagined him and a young, attractive PA yucking it up while I prayed on my knees for skilled surgeons and chicken parmesan. I tried to hide my disappointment, “That is great. I’m so glad you just have ugly knees.”
Just then, I notice a mole on his neck that I’ve never seen before. And I think – could it be? – yes, it appears to have a slightly irregular border. “Hold still!” I jump up to get a closer look.
“Oh, babe. I don’t like the looks of that,” I say. “I’m going to have to Google it.”