Posted by: dougery | January 4, 2012

The Void

On the night of Tuesday, December 20th I was rushed to the emergency room in North Adams, MA. I’m fine now, was pretty much fine in the early hours of Wednesday, but that does not mean the events of that evening weren’t scary and completely horrible.

Earlier on Tuesday I began to feel ill. At 3pm I started to get some kind of stomach cramp that I disastrously misinterpreted as hunger pains. After all I’d only had a can of soup for lunch, one of those tins that boldly proclaim a calorie content of 100 or something ridiculously low like that. Yet after a snack of a granola bar and fruit snacks composed of nothing which was ever a fruit, I felt no better. In fact by the end of the work day I felt downright lousy.

Too hot in my jacket despite the cold. Kind of dizzy. As L and I scoured the grocery store looking for something to buy for dinner I couldn’t even look at the jars of peanut butter let alone the stacks of cellophane wrapped raw meat. I had the window of the Jeep halfway down as L shuddered shotgun while we drove home. To make matters worse we had a friend dropping by to get the lay of our apartment as she would be taking care of the cats over our long winter holiday.

By the time she arrived at 6:30pm I was pretty much cooked. I was trapped in the bathroom and just pretended not to be home as L gave the catsitter a tour of the apartment. I was afraid to come out since I did not want to excuse myself in another few minutes. Because at this point my body had begun to purge fluids at an alarming rate. It had to be food poisoning or something. What follows may as well have TMI stamped all over it so if you are reading this at lunch or are generally skittish regarding bodily functions you might want to come back to this blog some other time.

Suffice to say that a short while later, catsitter off in the wind, I was voiding everything from every possible orifice. I felt like Robe Lowe’s character in the Parks & Rec episode “Flu Season.” Though my body is far from his self-proclaimed ‘microchip,’ I do distinctly recall staring into a mirror and seeing a glassy-eyed, sweaty foreheaded zombie looking back and mumbling the words “Just stop already!”

By 8pm this was happening every 15 minutes. And it wasn’t like I was tapping out. Some sort of dimensional wormhole had opened up in my guts and all of the fluids from each one of the infinite number of my alternate reality selves was spouting from me constantly. I was now feverish and couldn’t stay warm. I would lay down and just get comfortable when impending disasters gave me just enough forewarning to sprint not walk back to the bathroom. L left for the store to pick up some Gatorade and crackers and all that you’ve got the flu and you’re staying home from work tomorrow so eat and drink these to feel better stuff.

When she got back at 9pm things still hadn’t gotten better. I couldn’t even sip water without retching. Where the hell was all of this coming from? But questions like that were soon dissolving in a delirium of absolute uncomfortability. A phone call was made to L’s dad, a doc. Doc said well, if he doesn’t start holding down fluids you should probably hit the road. At 9:30pm I was laying in the back of the Jeep with a waste basket lined with a garbage bag behind one seat. Those of you who have ridden in the back of the Jeep know it to be a singularly bumpy ride. Pair that with the woeful condition of our driveway and the major streets of western Massachusetts and you will understand why this was one of the worst rides of my entire life.

I couldn’t sit up, couldn’t open my eyes, so I did that thing where you navigate by memory. Which is terrible because your mind always intuits progress at a far faster clip. But there are certain stretches of road, certain sharp curves that let me know that when I thought we were almost there, we weren’t even close. Some terrible pop song that was playing got stuck in my head and the chorus would not leave the lucid fringes of my mind for 3 days.

At some point I remember leaping into the front passenger seat and vaulting from the door toward the entrance of the hospital. I was wearing pajama pants and a ski coat, slippers and a wool hat. Oddly enough, this haphazard get-up made me indistinguishable from anyone else out and about in North Adams that night. I walked in behind the slowest elderly person in the history of the world whose companion heard me coming, turned around and actually gasped as by this point I looked closer to being dead than alive.

L said that I was so white that she could see veins through my skin and that my eyelids were a dark purple because they were so thin and the blood vessels were showing. I was euphoric because:

a) We’d finally FINALLY made it.

b) I’d successfully passed the trip without *incident*

c) I was going to feel better and not die now.

Turns out I had a lot more waiting to do. I lay on two chairs put together in front of, of all things, an aquarium which I don’t recall at all but L insists was there and so bubbly it was making her seasick. I was admitted around 11:30 pm and the nurses and everyone were awesome. My temperature was 103.7 and I came this close to identifying my religion (they asked all kinds of questions) as “state atheism.” They put an IV in me with a bag of fluid and some anti-nausea med that started with a Z. Within 15 minutes I felt like a completely new person.

What followed was a lot of waiting. A blood test was done and it turned out I had some kind of “GI bug” that was going around. This made me imagine a GI Joe toy with 4 arms and antennae racing around the country causing havoc to people’s bowels. I was released at 1am but L and I weren’t quite home free. We were pulled over by a cop in downtown Williamstown for driving with one headlight. L got furious but held it together and the cop turned into a sweetheart after we told him we’d just been to the ER and that we’d be getting the light fixed in CT like, 2 days from then.

I spent the next 2 days watching Planet Earth and eating apple sauce. This was how my winter vacation began.

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Responses

  1. Hell, man. That’s awful. Glad you’re doing better but hopefully you didn’t take out any of the alterna-Dougs via dessication.


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