Last Tuesday I experiencing a bit of stomach gurgling as I drove to my semi-weekly card game. Was I getting so old that garlic-pepperoni-mushroom-spinach pizza gave me indigestion? Fortunately the answer is no. Unfortunately after 15 more minutes I threw up into my friend's toilet. Interesting fact: mushrooms take a long time to digest or so I assume, as that was the only thing distinguishable in my heave.
Having thrown up I thought, "Whew, that's over. I'll sit out a few hands, sip some soda on the advice of my friends, and I'll feel better." Not so much. I went home and made it in time to announce to my roommate that something was wrong before hurrying to the bathroom to throw up again. And then there was the diarrhea.
For the next 12 hours I alternated between brief snatches of sleep, feverish awakenings, and fluid exiting my body in various ways. Anything I consumed – a single cracker or a swallow of water – came back up within a half-hour. At about 7 AM I felt better and entirely empty, so I drank a bit of lemon-lime soda. Nope, back up in 15 minutes. Another interesting fact: lemon-lime soda barf tastes sooooo much better than pizza barf or sip-of-water-and-bile barf.
After a wonderful couple hours of sleep, I woke desiccated. Mouth dry, nosebleed, skin like course paper. Managed to drink some Pedialyte and keep it down. I called a dear friend who is a nurse and is always there for me when I need medical assistance. She directed me to the University health center and, wonderfully, they were open. As my sister drove me there I thought, "Please please please I want IV fluids. IV fluids and intravenous anti-nausea medication. That would be nice." Lovely peoples that they are, they jumped me ahead in the line. As I woozily chatted with the male nurse (hey, cool, that's me soon), he ascertained that I was in fact dehydrated. Treatment was not some fancy medical-grade electrolyte formula, but simply a bottle of Gatorade. Orange flavor. It was delicious, my parched tissues sang with joy. The doctor saw me and prescribed IV fluids and anti-nausea meds. Glory! All my dreams came true.
While the fluid slowly leaked into my arm, the anti-nausea medication knocked me out. The nurse put up the bars on the bed so I wouldn't roll off and sue them, his words. I came to as the bag was emptying and shuffled out to my sister's car. After hours more sleep, and a full twenty-four hours later I finally ate food that stayed down - a couple Saltines soaked in chicken broth.
The next day I was reading through the pamphlet they gave me at the health center. It turned out I had gastroenteritis, which inflames the lining of the stomach and intestines. To which they respond, "Aaaah! We don't want nothing touching us! If anything does we will violently squirt it out of whichever end of the alimentary track is closest!" I derived a literal sick thrill from the opening sentence of one paragraph, "During the vomiting phase of the illness..." It's nice to know that one's illness has predictable phases.
Even after the symptoms subsided, it took a couple more days for my strength to return, so I stayed home on New Year's Eve and watched Conan's Central Standard Time countdown. Whoo-hoo.