Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bacon Face

Whenever anyone asks me to name my favorite feature, meaning on my own, personal body - which, by the way, is an insufferable question - my answer is always the same. My immune system. “But Kristin!” they exclaim, “What about your luxurious and full-bodied hair? What about your long, lean legs?” “No,” I say to no one, because this conversation has never happened, “it’s my immune system.”

And rightfully so. In my 24.85 years of life, I’ve had exactly 4 stomach bugs (all of which resolved themselves within 24 hours), one chicken pox (which I dealt with like a fucking champion at the tender age of 5), and a handful of common colds of the mildest variety. I didn’t miss a single day of high school.



06_01


I’ve never gotten a flu shot, because I’ve never gotten the flu. Every time around this year, autumn, I can’t seem to enter a Duane Reade without someone in a white coat begging to inject me with a small amount of the demon disease as a means of prevention. And every year, after explaining that I don’t want the shot because I’ve got an immune system that just won’t quit, I get the same angry glare that seems to say “I need you to know that I’m smarter than you.”


06_02 06_03


So you can imagine how annoyed I was when I woke up one recent autumn morning with a tickle in my throat and a blockage in both nostrils.

Day 1: The Onset



06_04 06_05 06_06


On the rare occasions in which I feel an illness coming on, I go into a childlike panic mode, where every sensation is a symptom, and every human in a fifty foot radius is a doctor.


06_07 06_08


When I woke up with the itchiness and the congestion, I reported the symptoms to the nearest human, my roommate. Annoyed that I had woken her up to make her listen carefully to the way air was struggling to make its way through the snot in my nose, she told me to take some vitamin C, and to not touch anything in her room.

The only other living beings in my apartment are a dog and a cat, and they’re generally useless for health advice. So, naturally I turned to the internet. After a google search of “does vitamin C really prevent colds,” I found myself, as I often do, reluctantly filling my head with the indisputable wisdom of Yahoo Answers.



06_16


The general consensus of the first three hits of the google search was that vitamin C probably won’t help you if you’re already sick, but that it certainly won’t hurt. So on my way to work I picked up some Emergen-C, and, with difficulty, put the “I need to get my affairs in order” thoughts out of my mind.

Day 12: This is Not Nothing



06_09


Almost two weeks later, I still hadn’t shaken the thing. And it was getting worse. There were white spots on the back of my throat. Cancer. Definitely. Again I consulted my good friend Google, searched “White Spots Throat,” and against my better judgement surpassed the web search and went straight to images.



I saw a doctor that morning.

Sharp-eyed readers will recall that I have an unhealthy and irrational fear of vomiting, and I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. So when the doctor ordered a rapid strep test, which involves swabbing the back of the throat to tickle the gag reflex, I went through all five stages of grief in about 22 seconds.



06_11


Even though the rapid strep test came back negative, this doctor insisted that it was strep. He said he was sure, because he could “see it,” and he could “smell it.”


06_12


After calling in his assistant to come check out my throat scum as if he were a curious kid finding a dead rat on the side of the road, he gave me a script for some general antibiotics and sent me on my way.

I’ve never had strep before. They told me to drink fluids, so I bought all of the fluids in New York City. Including root beer. I took the first dose of antibiotics, watched an entire season of How it’s Made, and fell into an early and dreamless sleep.

Day 13: Your nose is drunk, this isn’t strep



06_13


I recall my immediate sleepy thought being that I had contracted athlete’s hand. Not athlete’s foot, athlete’s hand. Then I remembered that I’m not an athlete, and also athlete’s hand isn’t a thing.

I panicked.

Simultaneously, I discovered that the white gunk on my tonsils had doubled overnight, and so had the pain. I went back to the doctor.

They gave me another rapid test, but this one wasn’t to test for strep, it was to test for mono. And it didn’t involve a throat swab, it involved a finger prick. And this one didn’t come back negative, it came back positive.

The rash was an allergic reaction to the antibiotics, which apparently often happens to people with mono who are wrongly diagnosed with strep and thus wrongly prescribed antibiotics. This was surprisingly no comfort to me as the amazing Disease Whiffing Doctor explained my diagnosis.



06_14 06_15


Mononucleosis is a virus, and must run its course. For some people, it can last months. During their junior year of high school. It’s a disease that teenagers get when they drool into each other’s mouths in parents’ basements. I was sent home with a note excusing me from at least 5 days of work, and instructions to stay away from people for at least that long, as mono is highly contagious. I was also instructed to eat Motrin like I would M&Ms to curb the tonsil pain, but that order may have come from my own brain, not Dr. Smells-Well.

The notorious mono-fatigue was kicking in, and my head barely made it to the pillow before I was out cold for the rest of the day and following night.

Day 14: Solitary Confinement Day 1
The thought of being confined to my apartment for no less than five days was, I'll admit, not an entirely unattractive one. I've been so busy lately, running around. Projects to complete, people to see, pizza to eat. Flaking out on obligations is easy when you have mono. People generally know that mono is spread through saliva, and even though it's easy enough to keep my saliva to myself, I've found that friends would rather be safe than sorry. "Oh, you wanted me to help you carry a chest of drawers you found on a sidewalk in Greenpoint to your apartment in Park Slope?” I’d say, “But what if I accidentally lick your face? What if my tongue just falls out of my mouth and lands on your face?"

The staycation might have been more enjoyable had I not been nursing the hand rash and throat leprosy. I was in a bad way, and I wanted to know when it would end. So after eight episodes of Parks and Recreation, I started live-streaming my health status via text message to my cousin Meghan. She's a midwife, which is close enough to Mono Specialist, as far as I’m concerned.



06_17


Reassuring as she was, she still couldn't predict when my misery would end. No one could do that. Only the virus itself, squatting in my nodes, could tell me when I might feel some relief. And lord knows I wasn't speaking to that asshole. So I watched more Netflix, sucked on some more useless cough drops, and composed an epic poem about my valiant fight against disease in the face of adversity. For Meghan.


06_18


Day 16: Solitary Confinement Day 3
In fifty-five hours, I had only left my apartment to walk the 5 blocks to whine at my doctor. The rash had spread. I was itchy and splotchy all over. My wasted tonsils were worse than ever. Thanks to Hulu’s autoplay, I’d fall asleep to 30 Rock and wake up to a reality dating show that doubles as a weight loss competition. I’m uncomfortable at the idea of having that blasted into my subconscious as I sleep. Above all, I was most put off by the lack of human interaction. My roommate is great company, but she’s not around much during the day. So I found myself ordering take out for the sole purpose of convincing myself that I still knew how to converse with another person. I can't say for sure whether or not the delivery guys were put off by the fact that my skin was indistinguishable from cooked bacon, but, gun to my head - I'd say absolutely they were.



06_19


Day 17:
It was the weekend, now. Everyone was making plans for the night, and I was canceling them. I thought that maybe my near-flawless immune system would wake up and fight back in time for me to at least enjoy some small part of the weekend, but it was becoming clear that nothing short of exorcism would banish mono from my system.

Donnelly came over to make stew, and I watched her from afar.




I poured it in my face and fell immediately to sleep.

06_22

Day 19:
Cooped up with a dog and a cat for five days now, I was unwilling to use forethought and unable to imagine a day in which I would be able to interact with people. Whenever anyone would contact me on gchat, I would assume that they wanted a thorough rundown of my recent medical history, and I would get disoriented when the subject of conversation would stray from my mono.

06_23

Needless to say, Henry and Lou became my sounding board. They listened as I unloaded my woes. But even that relationship became strained.


06_24


Day 20:
It seemed like my self-involvement grew with every passing moment. I’d been sick for almost a full moon cycle, and I couldn’t understand how people were carrying on with their lives as if nothing was wrong in the world. I wasn’t looking for sympathy, necessarily, I was just surprised that there hadn’t been some sort of divine intervention yet. Or hundreds of thousands of dollars funnelled into research on a cure for mono, at the very least.

That night, Alan came over bearing gifts of itch relief creams and bubble teas. The antibiotics were still working their way through my system, and I was as blotchy and uncomfortable as ever.



06_25


Day 21:
Stockholm’s Syndrome sounds crazy to those who’ve heard of it. But if you have it, then it makes all the sense in the world. Right? I assume this is the case.

I was starting to think crazy thoughts. Thoughts that make no sense to me now, but were infallible truth at the peak of my affliction. Thoughts like “My bed should be nominated for a daytime Emmy” and “This clock tells time but doesn’t understand it” and “My bones are falling out.”

I was told to stay in bed, and I did as I was told. The consequence was the loss of my sanity. Yahoo Answers started to make sense.



PREGNENT06_26


I became emotionally invested in the weight loss dating show.


06_27


I appointed myself Queen of Apartment 2F and ruled with an iron fist.


Bacon06_28


Day 22:
I’d been sick for so long that even I had gotten tired of my constant complaining. My own brain wouldn’t sympathize anymore. Call it coincidence or call it significant, but this was the precise moment that I started to feel better instead of worse. I took that tiny beam of light and ran with it. I ran with it to the laundromat. I ran with it to Hanco’s and got a bubble tea. I ran all the way to a phone call with my credit card company to finally address the mystery charges I noticed on my bill a few weeks earlier.



06_29


My skin still resembled off-brand salami, so I kept outdoors time minimal, so as not to frighten the children. I was able to think clearly again, and it suddenly dawned on me that my brother’s wedding was mere days away, and that I’d need to be in front of many people very soon.


LIKE06_30

The wedding was the first time in many days that I was able to a.) be in the presence of more than three people at one time (namely, 100 wedding guests) and b.) drink alcohol (namely, an unlimited amount from the open bar). You don't need to be a scientist to hypothesize that I went overboard in both areas by giving an unsolicited fifteen minute toast at the reception and subsequently getting all kinds of drunk.

50 comments:

  1. Loved the LOL script and the Yahoo Answers epiphany - good job on this one-

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  2. You've probably heard this a kajillion times by now but YOU'RE THE NEW HYPERBOLE AND A HALF! You are hilarious and I love you! I've subscribed via RSS, obviously, because you're actually funny enough for me not to get annoyed that you intentionally evade vaccination. (But srsly get vaccinated. For herd immunity, so other people don't get sick.)

    Keep submitting to reddit for visibility, but not too often or you'll get flagged for blogspam. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wish I had more friends so I could make this blog go viral faster. For now, I take solace in the hipster-like assertion, "I was reading Tender Nuggets before it was cool." Dibs.

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  4. hah HAHA ahhhhh oh god. i farted like 5 times while laughing while reading this. mono for 10 months was great.

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  5. Oh man, I loved this post! I couldn't keep it together with the picture of you as a full slice of bacon, acting as the reigning queen of your apartment.

    Moar, moar, moar!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are really awesome. Thanks for sharing your awesomeness.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This just popped up on my FB and I love it. I'm a new fan. YAY

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  8. This is so awesome and so true. hahaha i will forever have the mental image of you atop our coffee table declaring yourself the queen of 2F. The bacon skin is gross and makes me never want to eat it around you again. I demand another post immediately. In solidarity with drasmortar up there, I give it 5 farts (and suggest we both invest in some digestive enzyme vitamins).

    ReplyDelete
  9. ur teh new hyperboel and a hlaf

    ReplyDelete
  10. DO YOU EXCRETE GLORY?!?!?!!? LET ME BE YOUR PROTEGEE PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLZPLZZZZPLEAHSE, FOR THE SAKE OF NUGGETS EVERYWHERE

    ReplyDelete
  11. You're too funny! I just discovered your blog (via reddit)... please post more!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Freakin awesome. I love your blog and illustrations. Please post more often. Like daily. Or more. It is necessary. The end.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Brilliant as always! Well done m'love. I especially enjoyed the Yahoo Answers. Hilarious, and accurate.

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  14. Yuss! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I'm highfiving you in my head right now.

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  15. Dangit! My throat is scratchy now... Sonofa...

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  16. I looovelove your illustrations... Your blog is awesome.

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  17. I just found you today, and I am a little bit in love I think, and I like that. I will bookmark the shit out of this site and stick around.

    You are great at many a thing, and I am happy I found you!

    ReplyDelete
  18. If it makes you feel any better I too was misdiagnosed with strep when I had mono and given antibiotics too. Best part? I was allergic to the antibiotics. An ER visit later bc my tonsils swelled up so much I couldn't speak I found out what was what. I feel your pain. I know your crazy.

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  19. Yeah. so it is astounding luck that the one day of the year that i stay home sick. (every other time i just tough it out) i find this amazingly awesome pick me up of a sick story. you have inspired me to crawl out of my cave.

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  20. I just discovered your blog via Books of Adam while eating chicken nuggets, so it's clearly fate. I have a terrible immune system. In high school I once had strep throat, an upper respiratory infection, chronic bronchitis and developed asthma all at the same time. To say that it was not fun would be an obvious understatement. Right now I've been sick for over a month with an unknown stomach issue which is not allowing me to eat anything but bland food. I also have a very itchy rash covering all of my body except my feet, hands, and face. My skin doesn't resemble any sort of sandwich meat but I can definitely empathize with what you went through.

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  21. I was a camp nurse and one of the kids on the month long canoe trips had similar symptoms to yours. Luckily we send them with antibiotics, and the camp doctor essentially said "well, give him some penicillin. If he gets a rash he has mono, if not, it's strep."
    Also, you would be amazed at the percentage of health care workers that also do not get their flu shot.

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