Hope is A White Whale (But I Need It)

Rachel Langer
14 min readOct 18, 2020

I went to the Emergency Room this week.

I REALLY didn’t want to.

Partly because we’re still in a global pandemic (yeah sorry, I know you were hoping it was over. It’s not… so pull your damn mask over your nose.) Even though precautions are being taken at hospitals and health care professionals are working incredibly hard to contain things, it’s hard not to feel like Covid is lurking behind every curtain in the emergency room, festering under every mask, taking root in every vague symptom not mentioned at triage.

But in my list of reasons for not wanting to go, covid anxiety actually ranked pretty low. Mostly I didn’t want to go because I knew exactly how it was going to turn out, and worse, I knew exactly how I would feel when it did.

At the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious asshole, I wasn’t wrong.

On Wednesday this week I couldn’t stand up straight. Okay that’s not entirely true, I could get there eventually, but it would cost a bucket of shaky, sweaty effort and was accompanied by sounds only a cat giving birth should make. (Having once witnessed a cat give birth, I consider myself an authority on this matter.)

It felt like a cattle prod was being rammed through my left side from back to front at top voltage again and again. Now let’s be clear, I’m no stranger to abdominal pain. 4 surgeries and decades of experience later, you could say I’m a veteran at navigating it. If they gave out Purple Hearts for pain management, I’d be full Grimace by now. (Old millennial translation: Grimace = purple. Roll with it.)

The quick update is I suffer from stage IV endometriosis (the most insidious kind) and no longer have a uterus (or its ensemble of backup dancer organs) but I still suffer from daily pain (likely due to adhesions, scarring and bowel complications from the endo.)

What this means is that from time to time what is usually moderate daily discomfort sometimes hits critical mass, turning unbearable and terrifying, and I usually have no idea why. It’s like you if were watching Nightmare Before Christmas then suddenly you’re watching the scariest scenes in The Exorcist instead (or if you’re me, The Descent) not what you paid for and you want an explanation, dammit! I didn’t know…

Rachel Langer

Screenwriter. Canadian. Wordsmith for Transplant (Crave/NBC) The Order (Netflix) andThis Life (CBC) . Loud about endometriosis and women’s health.