There's a World in my Illness
I have been taken to a place, a horrible place with monsters that eat your energy, with white coated grim reapers stabbing you with needles, and machines, which rhythmically beep a neurotic lullaby. Luckily, I am not a citizen of this world; if I were, I would emigrate as soon as possible. I am only a visitor as luck would have it, and I pray for those stuck in that place of misery and suffering. When thinking about Alice Walker's daughter's quote, "There's a world in your eye!" I found out there is a world in my illness, albeit I have a disease that will go away, but an allergic reaction and a common infection is enough of a passport for me to travel to that evil land of pain.
I can only imagine what it would like to be sick. I am thinking about the AIDS patients of the world, the cancer sufferers, and heart attack victims and so on and so forth. They would be getting shots, taking pills constantly, and staying in the death house of the hospital again, and again. Disheartened family members would trot in and out but nothing would really change, it is just always going to be that mama is sick and crying, and grandpa may never wake up. Nothing changes until they clean up the empty hospital room.
To think that this would be a lifestyle is mind-blowing. I am 19, healthy, and medically still just a kid. Yet, when a little pill crossed my path that made my skin flush and feel on fire, with red scaly bumps rising up, I ended up in their world. Yet, not just the allergic reaction fueled my transportation via a noisy train with lots of flashing lights; disorientation, a 104-degree temperature, and dizziness fueled the suspicion that something was really wrong with me. I could have told the paramedics that, but they put me in the ambulance and carted me away, I started realizing that I was not in my bed anymore.
They inserted an IV through my hand, and took six vials of blood once I got to the emergency room. They had me on oxygen, cardiac monitors, blood pressure machines, and who knows what else. When they finally got around to examining me, to-be doctors poked my arms, legs, and back wondering where I got this odd sickness. The only issue I had with them doing these tests was they were wearing the equivalent of riot gear. The Residents wore blue plastic coverings, head coverings, masks, and eye shields. They were going to put a mask on me, but since I needed oxygen, they decided it was not a good idea. After going out, I was left there until a couple of nurses came by to check up on me, all wearing the same outfit of blue plastic sheets and masks. The nurses took them off when the diagnosis came back Infectious Mononucleosis, and an unrelated allergic reaction. It was mid Saturday morning when I got a room to check into out of the ER, and so I spent the rest of my visit in room 672.
In torture chamber 672, once again, the poking and prodding began. I felt like a side of beef waiting on its USDA Certification. I would deem their actions of squishing my organs unnecessary if they did not tell me that they were checking to see if my spleen had exploded. Yet when they put more fluid in the IV, I could not sleep easily. Between my many drips of antibiotics, the night nurse would cleanse the IV and my bloodstream with Saline solution, which is a fancy phrase for really cold salt water. It was as if dry ice was directly inserted into my veins, a dry freezing burning feeling that could only be described with the tears in my eyes watering. Sugar water was worse, but it was just a deeper form of pain. I was sensitive to every chemical they poured down, to every needle hungry for more blood, to the constant pins and needles from my arm from the blood pressure, and to the maddening itch, which consumed me.
I realized I was lucky, I only got the Limbo version of Dante's Hell. It still was not fun as I had and still possess an intense fear of needles, and in my family, when you went into the hospital you never came out. While it was terrifying, it seemed all of a sudden so petty to me to be complaining of a cough and itch, when people around me were dying, prepping for surgery, or receiving chemotherapy. I was lucky, even when my friends did not allow me to go to dinner with them as they were afraid of getting Mono from being around me; I was not contagious. I felt hurt, but I was opened to the idea of disease for the real first time. I thought about this in the hospital, but I really saw it now, now that people were afraid of me because they did not want to get ill, they did not want what I had.
While the symptoms of Mono do not show throughout life, the virus that causes it is still there, but rarely resurfaces. I do not have AIDS, cancer, or something contagious, but since I know the world from the other side of the bed, I am a lot more open to being around sick people. I did not want to be around my uncle when he was dying of cancer, but now I feel like I could make their world a little brighter if I understood and included them. There is a world in sickness, and its one we should change and make sunnier, and not make the universe outside the window further away.