Much like Ellie, I too found myself in a hospital today (I guess we really are twins).
I finally have a primary care provider, so I decided to see her so I could get my meds and make sure I wasn’t going to die any time soon.
She’s a very kind lady who was unfortunately given a lazy eye. I think she squints on purpose so people might not notice, but as a person with squinty eyes myself, I saw that shit. She gave me free “samples” of the insulin I’m on and then told me about this sketchy website that sells discounted drugs. Whatever. I’m poor. I’ll try anything.
After we discussed my chronic health issues she asked, “Is there anything else I should take a look at today?”
Yesterday was my sister’s birthday. I tried to call her, but there was no answer. Turns out she’s in the hospital because she’s gained a resistance to the drugs she needs to live a normal, healthy life. It feels like she’s running out of treatment options.
And I’m so fucking scared right now.
She means the world to me, and I don’t say that about anyone. If I had to set fire to everything I know to keep her safe, I would. I’d watch it all burn with her by my side. She’d probably try to make me feel better about it by giving me marshmallows on a stick. There isn’t a mean bone in her body.
When I thought everyone had turned away from me – my mum, dad, and brothers – and I was sitting on the ledge of a 42 story apartment building, she told me she would be there for me and would help me set things aright. She saved me that day. I don’t talk about that very often because of the shame it brings me, but I feel like I need to put out into the world just how much of a good person she is. Maybe some deity will hear and help her.
She has never asked me for anything and has given everything with a smile on her face.
I went to the hospital last night at 2:00 in the morning with a kidney infection.
I had called a bunch of friends to see if they had any antibiotics. I got 875mg amoxicillin tablets, but it turns out I had a resistant strain of bacteria raging through my kidneys (I think I read that up to 25% of bacteria found in the urinary system are now resistant to amoxicillin. Just my luck). Earlier in the week I had tried to take care of the infection by drinking apple cider vinegar diluted with water… That shit obviously didn’t work. Chinese remedies have failed me for the first time.
I woke up feeling like someone was slipping shards of glass into my back. Goddamn fucking spreading infection trying to fuck me in the ass. Missed and got me in the back instead. Loser.
I went out to the living room where Alex was sleeping and Abe was working on his computer engineering project. “Guys… I need to see a doctor.”
While waiting in line to check in, a nice lady got a wheelchair for me and a plastic pink bucket in case if I tossed my cookies. I must’ve looked like an idiot swooning and crouching over in an effort to relieve some of the pain. By that point I was nauseous, feverish, and getting cold sweats. Bad news bears.
I watched Family Guy in the waiting room while my kidneys felt hot and stingy; laughing sent rivulets of pain throughout my abdomen. It made me wonder how badly kidney stones hurt. My older brother, Dennis, told me it was akin to getting jack-hammered in the balls but the sensation was in his lower back. Please don’t let it be kidney stones too.
They finally drew some blood and laid me up in a bed until I could pee into a cup. The nurse, Brian, brought me some Motrin (800mg horse pills) to dull the pain. I went to sleep promptly with Alex and Abe sitting next to my gurney.
A few hours later, the nice Doctor DeAugustinas woke me up by shoving some antibiotics into my gullet. He scared the shit out of me. I don’t like feeling delirious with someone opening my mouth and inserting foreign objects. I’m glad it’s only pills. I wouldn’t be able to fight off a perv doctor. Whatever. Alex and Abe would fuck up any predator who walked in here.
He pressed on my stomach and back asking how badly I hurt. “The physical pain is not as bad as the blow to my ego. I had to pee in a cup and you just felt all of my belly fat.” For an ER provider working the overnight shift, he was very kind, friendly, and funny. And I’m not sure if it was the immense pain blurring my vision, but he looked pretty attractive too. Why do I always get the good-looking doctors when I’m feeling and looking like a walking pile of horse shit? Now Karma is out to fuck me in the ass too, eh?!
I left with some scripts and a note telling me to take the day off. No math exam or physics lab for me today. I asked for a note for Abe and Alex too (it was about 6:00 in the morning so the kiddos hadn’t slept much). Brian said we’d have to check them in and give them rectal exams.
I went to the hospital today. I’m not dying – I don’t think. I reckon I’m not dying any faster than the average 26 year old at least.
I showed up early for my appointment because my military ID expired and I thought I’d have to cut through the razor wire to get on base. It was surprisingly easy though. Everyone was really helpful…and thought I was married. They asked for my license and registration. I’ve been pulled over multiple times, but I’ve never had to show my registration because of my Uncle Matt (he’s a pretty decorated police officer). They let me go with a warning all four times. Anyhow, when I told the military police I didn’t know what a car registration looked like, they laughed, dug around in my glove compartment, and said, “I guess your husband takes care of this.” The folks checking me in even asked, “What’s your husband’s social security number?” Shit’s weird.
Since I had about an hour to spare before the doc told me how unhealthy I am, I went to the Subway to buy a sammich. An older Korean lady works there. I like seeing her because I can practice my Korean a bit. I started to ramble in Korean with her while I told her all of the ingredients I wanted. For some reason, this pissed off the woman behind me in line. She called the manager over and some shit went down: Manager Man told the Korean lady she couldn’t speak her native tongue. She spoke only English with me after that. I was so pissed off; it really hurt my heart that I had gotten such a nice lady in trouble for speaking Korean with her. IS THAT EVEN FUCKING LEGAL?!
What if I didn’t know how to speak English? Would she have to use gestures to tell me what kinds of breads Subway has to offer?! …this is some booty.
While I was eating I kept making eye contact with the Korean lady. I thought she looked lonely. She had told me once before how her husband and children only spoke English. I’m not the greatest conversationalist, but there’s some measure of comfort in talking with someone in the language you grew up with, even if it is with some kooky girl who doesn’t have her shit together.
If there’s one thing these past few months have shown me, it’s that loneliness is underrated and talking with people is a decent remedy to that. Anyway… onward and downward.
My roommate, that stupid bitch, fucking threw away my goddamn insulin when she was cleaning out the fridge.
I noticed I was out of juice for my pump on the evening of the 10th, day before Veterans Day. Okay, cool. Not a problem. I’ll just mosey on over to the fridge and get a vial of… Where the fuck is my insulin? I went on a rampage looking for my version of the Elixir of Life. It had disappeared like a fart in the wind. Holy shit, I’m dead. I asked my roommate if she had seen my meds. Of course she said no. Like anyone would admit to manslaughter.
I sat down and thought about my options. I couldn’t go to the military base to get refills because everything was shut down for Veterans Day. I decided to go to the local ER and get a prescription written up so I could get some drugs at the Rite Aid pharmacy down the street. Alex drove, I made fun of dying people, Alex joined in, and then I peed in a cup. It was a great time until shit got real (we saw some folks who had obviously received bad news and then we shut up).To make matters worse, the whole ER trip was a fucking bust because my insurance was somehow tied up and everyone was out of the office for fucking Veterans day. No way could I afford $252 for 1000 units of my drugs!
Waiting game until the 12th it is.
I didn’t eat anything all day and guzzled huge amounts of water to try to keep my glucose levels low. I skipped my classes so I could lie down and just focus on breathing. It wasn’t working. By the time early evening rolled around I could feel my blood thickening and my pulse quickening.
Some fun facts about having high blood sugar for extended periods of time:
Blood pH drops turning blood into acid
CO2 levels drop fucking up common bodily functions (this also contributes to lowered blood pH)
Thickened blood can’t reach extremities and chill sets in; it can also cause blindness since the veins and arteries in the eye are extremely delicate – thick blood stretches/rips them
Delirium and weakness set in
Nausea and the inability to hold anything down make the whole ordeal messy
My little brother Abe stayed with me all night, watching me to make sure I didn’t die. The nausea hit me around 0400. I knew I was in full-on diabetic ketoacidosis. My electrolytes were probably way low, potassium in particular. I knew I was headed towards the hospital but I was in denial. “Jess, let me call an ambulance.” I could see the distress in Abe’s face. “Fuck no! I can make it to the pharmacy.”
Abe doesn’t have a car, so Matt drove me to the military base. I gave him my base pass and slumped into the back seat where I promptly threw up into a plastic bag Abe had shoved into my hands before I left the house. Matt’s not military and doesn’t possess proper ID to enter the installation, but the man checking ID cards took one look at me and directed us to the infirmary. “Fuck the hospital. I need the pharmacy for my meds. Look for the post exchange; it’s in there.” We drove around a bit and found the building. I stumbled out of Matt’s car and vomited on the grass before entering. I slowly walked to the pharmacy. The doors were locked. They’d open at 0900. It was 0830. I lost hope. I laid down on a bench and closed my eyes. I could feel myself losing consciousness. Matt was saying something about calling an emergency number that had been posted next to the hours of operation.
I remember waking up on the bench to a woman asking me a bunch of stupid questions. “What’s your name?” “How long have you been without insulin?” “Can you hear me?” I wanted to punch her in the face so I could sleep. She checked my blood sugar. “That’s really high. Put her on a stretcher and take her to Laurel Regional Hospital.”
I don’t remember the ambulance ride too much. I recall the medic handing me these really weird cylindrical, plastic bags to throw up in. He said I was a good patient because I told him every time I was feeling nauseous. They carted me into the ER and rolled me onto a bed. Then they turned me into a pin cushion trying to find IV sites on my hands and arms. I don’t know how long I stayed in that room, but Matt was with me a long time. He held my hand and brushed my hair out of my face. People kept asking if he was my boyfriend or “Mr. FIzz.” That made me giggle on the inside. No way would I ask any husband of mine to take my last name.
Matt left for school and work around 1330, and that’s when shit got bad. The nurses had originally hooked up to a saline and insulin drip. When Matt left, they decided to hook me up to a bag of dextrose (sugar water)… and then they let my insulin IV run out. My blood sugar climbed back to about 500. I started to vomit uncontrollably again. I told the nurse the dextrose was killing me and that they needed to stop treatment. They said “doctor’s orders; leave it in.” I ripped out the IV (I have a nice swollen hand from that move). And then they left me there. No saline, no insulin. Nothing. They wouldn’t even let me drink any water due to the excessive vomiting.
At some point, they admitted me to the critical care unit upstairs. They stripped me of all my clothing and gave me a sponge bath. Then they wrapped me up in an open-back dress. I was so glad none of my friends were there to witness this huge blow to my dignity. I laid back on my new bed… then sprang back up to dry heave into a plastic bucket. My ICU nurse, Rhonda, said, “Lemme getcha somethin’ for that nausea.” I liked her already.
I had about four nurses bustling about me for a good 20 minutes. They attached leads to my chest, checked my glucose levels (still in the upper 400s), hooked up two saline bags, an insulin drip, and a potassium drip to my catheters. They also attached three more IVs: one in my left hand (I had ripped this one out earlier in the ER), one in my right arm, and one in the left side of my neck. I was severely dehydrated so my veins were super tiny and hard to find… and they wound up slashing THROUGH my veins instead of threading a catheter into them. Lovely purple bruises everywhere.
I started to feel better except for the extreme thirst. Rhonda would give me an ice chip every hour or so, but it was more of a tease than anything. The fluids made me feel more coherent, and the staff nearly doubled the amount of insulin the emergency room cunts had administered. The ER nurses and docs said the maximum amount of insulin they could give me was 6 units per hour; the ICU was giving me 10 units per hour… without the added side of sugar water. I SWEAR I’M GONNA REAM SOME ASS LATER! THOSE ER FUCKS ALMOST KILLED ME! Anyway…
Oh, and going to the bathroom in the ICU was embarrassing as shit. Since I couldn’t walk very far, they brought in this walker-looking thing that had a toilet seat and plastic bucket underneath: a high-tech bed pan. And then the nurses watched me pee. SERIOUSLY?! I’m so glad Matt, Alex, and Abe weren’t there. Even if I could walk to the “bathroom” the commode was out in the open; I could see it from my bed. …I’d rather cauterize my vagina over a campfire than use that toilet in front of the boys.
Rhonda was replaced by another nurse named Jalika at 0800. She was nice too. She let me know what was going on with my blood work and joked around with me even though I was pretty unresponsive. I wanted to let her know I thought she was funny, but it took a lot of effort to move. She even got me a phone charger so I could check out what was going on in the outside world. Twenty-three missed calls from my parents, that’s what was going on. Fuck. I had to text my mother everything that had happened to me because my throat was so raw from the bile and blood I had hacked up. Apparently mother dearest had called my brother, sorority sister, and campus police in her efforts to find me. Fuck AGAIN!
Around 1000 Alex came in to visit me. I didn’t even realize he had entered the room because he’s so quiet and skinny like a shadow. I wanted to chat with him because I had missed him, but talking was still difficult. Fortunately he’s good at picking up social cues, so he slept while I dozed. And that’s pretty much how things went until they discharged me (aside from the nurse giving me horse pill-sized antibiotics because my white blood count was at 22,000). There was also a patient that had been in a coma for 14 days after overdosing, and as soon as he woke up he said, “I’m going to New York.” He probably left to get more drugs; I like the man already.
Jalika gave me some papers to sign and a sheet of paper that pretty much says, “Jess nearly died; let her play hookie from school, damn it!” They discharged me into Alex’s care with instructions like “rest a lot” and “eat a light meal.” Fuck that; I almost died.
“Bruh, I haven’t eaten in, like, two days. I want McDonald’s.”
My brother called. My mother has been admitted to the hospital. They’re checking her brain for hemorrhaging and brain stem trauma. She’s scheduled for an MRI later today.
He wouldn’t tell me what happened exactly. She woke up with vertigo yesterday and was very nauseous. The doctors thought she was trying to score narcotics. She got worse in the ER waiting room. I’m assuming someone noticed she wasn’t well or perhaps my father went ape shit. They found the hospital wasn’t equipped to treat her. They transported her to a different facility, and that’s where she is now.
I tried to call Pops. No answer. Gotta wait.
I hate waiting. I’m pretty scared.
I’m sure my mother hates waiting rooms even more.I bet she’s not scared; she’s brave.
I think I’ve had my fair share of near death experiences and pain. Here are a few.
I’ve been shot in the shins with bird shot. Most of it ricocheted off a road sign and some beer cans, so the pellets didn’t go very deep. We couldn’t go to the hospital because the docs have to report all gunshot wounds to the police, so I was thrown into the back of a pickup truck and taken to my friend’s house where her parents laid me out on the kitchen table, plucked out the bits of metal, and dressed my wounds while her brother apologized profusely for shooting me. Asshole.
A buddy of mine from Tampa stabbed me in the shoulder with his Swiss Army Knife during an argument. I don’t even remember what we were fighting about. I just remember I screamed loudly, and then he screamed, and then I yelled, “Why the fuck are YOU hollerin’?!” “I don’t know; I’m scared! I just shanked you! Don’t tell!” We went to the hospital, I got four stitches, we drank some beer, I hit my buddy with a golf club and called it even.
I once got into a bar brawl because my friend Josh kissed the wrong guy’s girlfriend. The bar keeper didn’t like how we fucked up his tables, stools, glasses, etc… so he pulled a shotgun out from behind the bar and waved it in all of our faces. I broke two ribs when someone literally threw me into the bar and then ran into me, crushing my side into worn wood, but I still hauled ass out of that place. One of my bros carried me when I started dry heaving from the pain in my side. I didn’t feel much better with him jostling me around, but we got the hell out of dodge a lot faster that way.
A drug dealer also had his gun in my face because he wanted a refrigerator full of cocaine and Afghan eight balls. I can’t talk about that too much because of statute of limitations shit.
I wouldn’t consider this a poisoning, but I was tranquilized for being a dumb ass and wandering around some place I had no business. I’m lucky I wasn’t tased or shot on sight. I was in custody for about 26 hours (unconscious for about four of those) and missed two days’ worth of classes because I was MIA for one day and then I needed a mental break after that shit show. Moral of the story: don’t fuck around on military bases.
Bonus round: I took some Rufilin to see what it was like. It’s just like the movies, kids: I couldn’t remember dick. I also became incredibly sick. I threw up neon orange shit and felt like dog poo that had been stepped on. Don’t worry; I experimented in a controlled environment.