The First 48
This post has nothing to do with homicide or the AE television series that it is named after. It does, however, have everything to do with the people around me scrambling for 48 hours to find out what was happening to my body. During this time, I was not only terrified but also upset with myself for allowing my symptoms to get so bad. What happened during these first 48 hours? Well...
1. I had a surgical procedure
2. A sterile tech disguised as an RN almost burned my insides
3. I received a crash course on the "White people's disease"
Sounds crazy right? Well, we are not playing two truths and a lie. I am very serious and all of these things did take place.
Hmmm, where do I begin?
When I arrived at the hospital, I was brought in in a wheelchair and left in the lobby area while the EMT's gave the receptionist my information. For a few minutes, I stared at the floor wondering what would happen next. Was I going crazy? Was I dying? Or both? Then I looked up and saw my best friend, Isha, enter the emergency room. As soon as I saw her, I started crying like a baby. CORRECTION: I STARTED BAWLING! And when I bawl, it's never pretty (lol). Eyes red, lips dry, and snot running, I looked up and saw her trying to console me. As she rubbed my back and tried to stop me from crying, a nurse arrived to lead us to a room for my examination.
A few minutes after we got to the room, my parents arrived. After expressing their worry and fear, I received the first of a series of lectures that would continue for the next month. I called this the KNOW YOUR BODY lecture. I received a lengthy lecture from my parents that day and then one from every aunt, uncle or parental figure that I could think of. I must admit that I definitely gave them a good reason. My 5'4'', 112 pound body (Yes, I am very petite) was laying in a hospital bed struggling to remain awake and alert after experiencing extremely debilitating symptoms. I can only imagine how scary the view of me in that bed was for Isha and my parents.
Soon, an ER doctor came into the room to speak with us. After examining me, she reminded me of a HUGE thing that may have caused my symptoms. I HAD AN ABCESS THE SIZE OF A STRAWBERRY UNDER MY ARM! I was feeling slight pain under my arm, but I guess my symptoms got so bad that I didn't notice that the abscess had grown larger and more painful. The doctor said that they would surgically remove the abscess in the morning before running any additional tests. She wanted to be certain that the abscess was not the cause of my symptoms. As soon as she said that my father decided to turn her notion into a fact. Just like that my father assumed that removal of the abscess would stop the symptoms. He even told us about a friend who had an abscess in his inner ear and went completely crazy until doctors removed it. I watched him talk and in my head, I thought, "there is no way that a giant bump under my arm would have me literally 'tripping' like this." I listened to him talk about it and nodded my head but somehow I knew that removal of the abscess was not going to change anything. It was just like an episode of Law and Order when they think that they've found the criminal but you know that the case isn't solved because you're only 15 minutes into the episode. Overcome with fatigue and dizziness, they removed the big, inflamed, strawberry abscess from my underarm the next morning. As I predicted, nothing changed. While I was still barely conscious, several tests were completed on me, one of which was an MRI. The first of many that would be conducted over the next year.
It was now October 1, 2011. I still didn't know what was wrong with me but it was the day that I learned about the angels on Earth that surrounded me in the form of my family and friends. When I woke up from the anesthesia late that morning, I was welcomed by more family members and my best friends, Isha and Mari in the hospital room. My mother could not stand to leave me in my condition in a cold hospital room in Towson, so she stayed overnight with me in the room. Isha not only bought my mother food, but she also came back with clothes and toiletries for her for the night. I always knew that I had a great support system but it melted my fatigued little heart to see them all in action for me. LOVE.
I continued to fall in and out of sleep as everyone talked and laughed and then SHE CAME. Who is she? She is the sterile tech (until this day I REFUSE to refer to her as an RN) that poured hydrogen peroxide straight from the bottle directly into my OPEN WOUND. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! She did not dab it on with a cotton swab or wipe it onto the wound with gauze. No, no, no, she thought it would be fun to empty the container into my flesh. That scream only represents a fraction of the pain that I felt. When Mari noticed my reaction, she realized that the imposter was using hydrogen peroxide instead of saline solution (a less harsh cleansing option for wounds). Mari immediately yelled for her to stop while I hollered and squirmed in pain. It hurt so much that I could barely listen to her ridiculous apology.
Finally, a real medical professional entered the room. My doctor had arrived with my test results. At that moment, I learned that I could have had one of three conditions: Vitamin D deficiency, Bell's Palsy or multiple sclerosis (MS). Unfortunately, we wouldn't know for sure until I completed more tests. Once the doctor left the room, the denials and assumptions began. One person said, with confidence, that I couldn't possibly have MS because it was a "white person's disease." I had no idea that this statement would ring in my ears for the next several hours as other relatives called and texted me. I heard it from at least three other people before the day was over. It was like people wanted to convince me and my parents that the doctors were somehow making it up. I remembered learning about MS in middle school and only seeing pictures of white people in wheelchairs. Was it true? Was it a white person's disease? I have to admit that I actually started to believe what others were saying.
That night I was discharged but still too ill to return to my apartment on campus so my parents took me home. When I got home, I pulled out my phone and researched the "white people's disease." I nearly scared myself to death looking at videos and pictures of paralyzed people that night and realized that it was time to go to bed. The next day, visitor's came to see me at my parent's home and I heard even more theories. By the way, I forgot to mention that I am AFRICAN, SIERRA LEONEAN to be exact, and it is in our culture to think that we know more than doctors sometimes. Need an example? I was once told by an ex-boyfriend's mother that I experienced severe cramps because I was too skinny to handle my monthly cycle (lol). It's safe to say that I heard a lot that day. Enough to make me realize that MS was NOT just a white person's disease. Whatever was wrong with me had nothing to do with an abscess , how much meat was on my bones, how much spinach I ate, or my race. It had everything to do with God's plan for my life and I believe that He wanted me to trust Him and watch everything play out. So, I ignored everyone else's assumptions for a while and decided to listen to G-O-D and my doctors. The first step would be enduring the biggest bee sting that I had ever felt.
Bee sting? Look out for my next post to learn more about my diagnosis!
STAY TUNED AND STAY FEARLESS