Oct 10, 2008

My Wacky Medical Adventure - Part 4 (The End)

Alright, so what happened?

The first leg of my stay was in the emergency room, where doctor after doctor filtered through, asking me the same set of questions. Any history of medical illness? Any vomiting or nausea? Allergic to any medication?

No, no, no.

The first night was the strangest, as my closed throat caused the doctors some alarm and a lot of confusion. The immediate thought was that I had abscesses behind my tonsils that would need to be surgically drained. This sounded awesome. I was really psyched to have the fluid drained from giant pustules growing behind my engorged tonsils. I couldn’t think of anything better.

But of course, how in the world would they find out if I had abscesses if they couldn’t see past my uvula? Oh, CAT scan. Awesome. At around two in the morning on Sunday, I was wheeled around the hospital, past cries of “My arm! My head! What’s wrong with me?!” (this is not a fabrication, and these went on all night), and into a tiny room with a giant radiation box. When you’re in a fever-soaked delirium, getting any sort of unfamiliar medical evaluation immediately becomes hundreds of times more daunting. Especially the part where they tape your head down so you don’t move, and maybe, just maybe, you can feel the radiation. Maybe.


The CAT scan came back negative, so aside from the immediate “Thanks be to sunny Jesus they didn’t have to shove a scalpel and tube down my throat,” my reaction was, “Ok, great. What’s wrong with me, then?” Well, they didn’t know. I asked if my previous diagnosis of strep was incorrect, and they just sort of shrugged and said that it was probably correct, but along with all the other stuff I had, the penicillin wouldn’t have done anything.

Oh, awesome. Really awesome. My chief doctor gave me the preliminary diagnosis of mononucleosis, but again, it was delivered with a kind of shrug that wasn’t exactly reassuring. Also, mono is the best, because you can’t do anything about it. You just sort of sit there with your throat closed and sleep and sleep and sleep. So, although I was told I had mono, the doctor decided to treat me for tonsillitis just in case. This sounded pretty cool, because hey, antibiotics clear tonsillitis up in a day or two and you start feeling better immediately. I was all for it.

But then it turned out I was allergic to one of the first antibiotics they gave me. Vancomycin? No thank you, I really like my skin and don’t really want to claw it off. They put me on a milder antibiotic and steroids as well, which helped to slowly shrink the shelled mollusk that had lodged itself in my windpipe.

Of course, not all of this took place in the Emergency Room. Being an EMERGENCY room, people aren’t generally kept there for too long. Maybe somebody with gunshot wounds comes in and needs a bed. Things like that happen in Baltimore with pretty high frequency. Shortly before I left the emergency room, I was besieged by doctor after doctor, who all asked me the same questions. Still in something of a stupor, I didn’t really understand what was happening. One doctor would come in and say, “Hello, I’m your doctor, ____________” and then proceed to ask me a set of questions. This happened seven or eight times. I didn’t piece it together until later, but I think that these were all new doctors who were practicing with gathering information from patients. It would have been nice if they let me know.

And so I was off!

…to another part of the hospital!

And what could possible top my stay in the Emergency Room? Why, my stay in the Intensive Care Unit! This was actually pretty boring and can be summed up in a couple of bullets:

-I was the only conscious patient on the floor.
-I had those little sticky circles wired to my chest to constantly monitor my vitals.
-I had a blood pressure thing strapped around my arm for the entirety of my 24 hour+ stay there, which went off every hour without fail.
-I had two blood pressure things strapped around my calves that went off every two minutes to ensure that my legs didn’t atrophy while I was bedridden.

At least here I had a television where I could watch…the Game Show Network…seriously. That was all that came in. So awesome.

On Monday afternoon, once they decided I was on the up and up and that I wasn’t likely to seize up and keel over dead, I was moved to a different room on another floor. I didn’t have to have all of those things strapped to me all the time, just my iv drip. While it was nice to be able to move around a little bit, it was still pretty aggravating to have to wheel around my iv cart whenever I wanted to get up to wash my face or anything. Being slightly away from death’s door also meant that I had less and less contact with the doctors, which was really disagreeable. Every time I actually saw my doctor, I asked if I could leave and he would say, “Yeah, we’re going to try and get you out right away.” This happened a couple of times over the course of about thirty-six hours.

Before I could leave, though, I needed one more thing. An ultrasound. Apparently mononucleosis can really mess up your spleen, and despite my lack of abdominal pain, they had to make sure my spleen wasn’t ruptured. Ok, no problem. I’ve seen these things on TV when women are pregnant. Doesn’t look so bad.

Let me tell you, there in my completely lucid state, with a perfectly normal temperature, that ultrasound was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced in my life. It all started out by being wheeled down to the hospital basement and left on a gurney to wait for my turn. There was someone on a gurney in front of me and one behind, neither of which was moving much at all. I waited there for nearly an hour before I was brought into the room for my test.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen your insides, or more specifically, the outside of your insides. We all know what the intestines and stomach look like in anatomy books, but it’s much different to see them in there in the grey and black, moving. They expand and contract like muscles, but there are forms there, shapes from some alien world. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been stressful at all if I had some reference point for what healthy innards looked like, but there on that gurney, with that plastic nodule pressing into my belly, I was panicking at the cephalapodian shapes on that screen. I saw the dread priest flitting from world to world, freed from his Cyclopean city, and I was afraid.

But hey, turns out I was ok.

I never got a clear answer on what, aside from mono, I had, but they gave me antibiotics and tons of other medication just in case, and that was that. I got to go home on Tuesday night and got to go back to class the following Tuesday. A week of bed rest did me quite a bit of good, although I’m still working on making up all of that homework.

A couple of notables from my recovery phase:

-For a while, everything that I ate went up my nose. Everything. Soup, macaroni, Jell-o, everything.
-For the first couple of days I was home, I slept upwards of sixteen hours per day. It was awesome.
-My beautiful and amazing girlfriend Kali was with me all the way, doing all sorts of great things: making me tea, calling my mom while I couldn’t talk, emailing my teachers and boss to tell them I was alive but incapacitated, holding me up while I was buying medication from Rite-Aid, all of it. Wonderful, wonderful.
-My first goal for when I could swallow liquids again was to drink as much Yoo-Hoo as I could buy. I don’t know why, but I did it, and it was great.

I’m going to be trying to catch up on posting the backlog of images I’ve created. I’m going to have to do it in chunks so I don’t overwhelm you folks and so everything gets the proper attention it deserves. In the next post I’ll have two images I did for a gallery show that’s opening tomorrow night here in Baltimore, as well as the first painting I did for my thesis before I changed it. There’s a bunch of fun stuff to be posted after that, but we’ll get to it in time.

I’m sorry I haven’t been responding to all of these comments both here and on Facebook, but again, I’ve been working really hard on making up work and I don’t have a lot of spare time these days. Hey, look how long it’s taken me to post this part!

Anyway, that’s the end of my Wacky Medical Adventure. Thanks for hanging on.


Turns out I was a ghost all along or something. Also the plants are trying to kill us but Samuel L. Jackson was the villain.


  1. i thought there was going to be a twist at the end......like you have been dead this whole time

  2. yeah. those gun shot victims really ruin everything.

    Macaroni isn't so great when it's backing up into your nose, is it?

    Reading about your ultrasound makes me want to see my organs too. Did they take a picture of your spleen like it was a charming fetus and give it to you to treasure?

    I'm really glad you're well again.

  3. hahahaha i knew it....it was the plants all along

  4. So wait. You're telling me my spleen doesn't look like this?

    http://radstronomical.com/spleen.JPG ?

  5. I'm glad you're doing better, sam!

    Yoo-hoo and Kali seem like the panacea of any illness, in truth. <3

  6. Mmm, nose macaroni.

    Glad you're feeling better, now post some art, lazybones!

  7. Part 4 (The End) did not disappoint. Thanks for the ride, Sam. I'm relieved you're well at long last.

    P.S. Kali is quite obviously a keeper!!!