Monday, December 23, 2002

Excuse the melo-drama of the following entry. It reflects my perception of past days events as they occurred.
I thought I was finally putting myself together. I was wrong.
Was it the shabbat dinner with five adorable toddlers, alternately wailing and throwing up over their parents' shoulders?
Was it a spending a weekend with my friend Karra, who had been in the infirmary through a chunk of finals period?
Was it the upper-west-side diner spinach omlette, which bore striking resemblence to brightly colored cud?
A mystery for the ages.
Whatever it was, it started catching up with me right around the time I started off on the road home to Chevy Chase from my brother's apartment in New York. This trip has classically been the road-trip equivalent of a warm bubble bath for me. One road. Four hours. No surprises.
For some reason, I was not too worried by the faint rumblings of my stomach as I left my brother's house--a vague premonition made me grab a couple of napkins in aniticipation of possible emergency rest stop. I set off for home unconcerned.
Over the first two hours, feelings of light-headedness and nausea grew slowly. I noticed I was feeling drowsy--very peculiar considering the fact that I had slept like a cat over the weekend. My waning ability to focus alertly on the road overcame my loathing for caffeine, and I picked up a coke at a rest stop. I drank half of it on the way to the car, and my toyota's floormat drank the other half after a left turn dislodged its cover. Still, refereshed and more alert, I resumed my voyage. Crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge. As I made my way over the Maryland state border, my nausea and light-headedness again instensified. I weighed my options: Do I pull over at the next rest stop, call my parents out to the edge of civilization to pick me up? I knew I only had 1-1.5 hours left. If I could just hold on for that much longer, I could become safely delerious and infirm in the hands of my parents.
About fifteen minutes later, the tips of my toes and fingers began to tingle, kind of like the way your foot tingles when you sit on it wrong and it falls asleep--except this was persistent. It spread and intensified quickly, and soon most of my arms and legs were tingling, and I was breathing heavily. I looked for sign of a rest stop. None. I had passed the maryland welcome center and the cheseapake rest stop, and had entered the quiet rest-stop-less void that stretched about thirty miles to Baltimore. I had no idea what was happening to me--funny, thought, my last entry's description of dissolving now seemed to me quite apt--and I could not think clearly or focus on the road. Convinced that I would likely black out or faint right in the middle of 95, nightmares of plowing 70miles an hour into a four car pile up sent me into the right lane, and got me off the highway at the first exit: white marsh. I had little idea where/what/who was white marsh, but I looked to it desperately. No gas stations, no restaurants. Some stores that were closed for the night (it was now about 815) and a clustering of what might be called town-houses if there was a town. Not brick though. Panneled siding. Reminded me of Mr. Citarella's old apartment. I for a second wondered if had actually managed to wander into Mr. Citarella's old neighborhood, but then remembered he had moved to Maine or somewhere thereabouts and was no longer teaching calculus at JDS.
I looked for lighted windows--and suprisingly, I found few. I pulled my car over beside a promising window, and, exiting my car, discovered that I was no longer able to walk straight. I staggered up some stairs and knocked on someone's door. I am not sure what I said to the man who answered, probably something to the effect of "I am very ill. Help me." Whatever I said was probably nonsense to him anyway, as I was panting very heavily. "Should I call 911?" he asked? As my legs gave out on my and I fell to the ground, I said "Yes." He grabbed a phone and shut the door, leaving me at his doorstep, still panting and whimpering, clueless as to what was happening to me. The most likely option--that I had caught some sort of stomach flu and my paniced hyperventilating had been screwing with my circulation--did not really seem likely at the time. Totally ludicrous possibilities flew through my head. Meningitis? Stroke? Some weird neurodegenerative disease that would leave me paralyzed within minutes? My inner hypochondriac was out in full force.
I waited for the siren. It appeared, and approached. I managed to rise myself from the fetal position at this guy's doorstep, and stoop up to flag the ambulance down. The guy who took care of me in the ambulance was very amiable but had trouble taking my pulse--"I'm a DJ," he said with a light smile. "So my hearing is not that great." He was very calm--attentive, but unconcerned--no doubt a strategy to calm me down, I thought. He got my vital signs and information, told me that I seemed alright, that the tingling probably came from hyperventilating, but that I should probably get myself checked out. Then he asked me whether I wanted to go to the hospital. This point confused me quite a bit. I had called 911 for the explicit purpose of going to the hospital, hadn't I? Still, the DJ-EMT explained to me, he could not take me to the hospital without my explicit permission. "That would be kidnapping." In a bewildered moment, I got some advice from the security guard who had appeared. You don't look so good, he told me. You should probably go. With this minor validation, I told the DJ-EMT I wanted to go to the hospital. No matter how seriously or not seriously ill I was, I knew I was in no shape to drive home, that I would need to wait somewhere for at least an hour for my parents to come out to pick me up, and that I should probably have people making sure I was allright during that time.
A trip to the hospital, three information forms, and about 20 regurgitations later, I got myself a saline IV for rehydration, a doctor came in, prodded my stomach in a couple of places, proclaimed "your appendix is fine" and signed me up for some anti-emetic juice through the IV. I have a vague memory of pressing the doctor for the mechanism of action of the drug she was giving me. This seemed to frustrate her. "Something with the brain. Something with dopamine. Just lay back, relax, and the let the drug do its work."
About 19 hours later, I am home. I slept until five. In the past 28 hours, the only solid food I have eaten is a piece of babka. But I kept it down, and I'm feeling better.