I was a junior in high school when I started having chronic sore throat problems. Not only was this annoying, it was affecting one of my classes – Chorus. I complained to my parents who gave me Sucrets. I complained again and they took me a doctor who specialized in throat disorders. He diagnosed me with chronic tonsillitis and had me gargle with peroxide. Let me assure you, there is nothing more disgusting than gargling with a nasty liquid which slowly turns into a thick, bubbling froth. I felt like a rapid animal. This went on for months and there was little improvement. Finally, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving of my senior year I had a tonsillectomy.
As soon as I woke up from the surgery, I knew something was wrong. I felt a distinct draining in my throat kind of like when you have a cold and there’s a constant post nasal drip. I made gagging noises and was quickly scolded by the nurses. This type of activity could damage the internal stitches. I wasn’t REALLY feeling a draining, that was just the effects of the anesthesia. I was just imagining something draining. Okay, I do have an active imagination, but at least do me the courtesy of checking my throat! They reluctantly agreed to keep me overnight for observation since I was so agitated. My mom stayed with me and as soon as dawn broke, they were in my bleach scented, sterile room bundling me up to get me out of there despite my insisting that I still felt the drainage. That day wasn’t much better. I spent the day in bed, too exhausted to even sit up and read. Thanksgiving Day arrived, but I still couldn’t get out of bed. I had a roll for dinner. It was a home made MeeMaw roll, so it was a damn good piece of bread,plus it was soaked in lots of butter to make it very, very soft. After that, I felt full – odd, huh?
I went to sleep early and around 1 in the morning I sat up and then ran to the bathroom. I didn’t even make it to the toilet. I was vomiting blood into the sink. No, that’s not really it. I just opened my mouth and blood poured out. My parents woke up and promptly freaked out (can’t say I blame them!) My mom immediately called for her mom – MeeMaw to come over and help (we lived in a duplex with the grandparents next door), and my dad called for an ambulance. I fainted and, according to my brother, my dad picked me up off the bathroom floor and in his rush out of the bathroom banged my head against the door with a resounding thunk. Then, he angled me another way and banged my ankles against the door. This explained those odd bruises on my temple and ankle! The ambulance got there and took me back to the hospital where they looked down my throat once and told my parents to make an appointment with the doctor for the next morning. Other than that, there was nothing else they could do.
The next morning we were at the doctor’s office. I’d never before heard a doctor curse, but he was highly agitated, let’s say, that the hospital had not informed him immediately of this problem and they had sent home an actively bleeding patient. Apparently, blood clots had formed on the arteries and held them open, an unusual but certainly not unheard of complication. That drainage I felt had actually been blood flowing down my throat directly into my stomach. He leaned me back in a dentist’s chair type of thing, had me stick my tongue out, wrapped it in gauze, grabbed it to hold it down, then jammed a hot caurterizing iron down my throat. I smelled the unappetizing aroma of burnt meat and watched in a dazed as white smoke rose from my open mouth. I fainted again and spent another night in the hospital – a different one this time. The next morning when I woke up, I felt no drainage, only hunger. I sipped some watery cream of wheat and then again went home. I really was feeling much better. Obviously, I didn’t eat anything but liquids for about a week. By then, I had lost so much weight I looked anorexic. I weighed in at a whopping 87 pounds. (Okay, I’d started at 105, but that was still a significant weight loss. Over a year later, I finally had gained back all the weight I lost.
Could we have sued the hospital for malpractice? Yes. Did we? No. I’m not sure why my parents didn’t, but I’m just as happythey didn’t. Yes, it was awful, but in the end, I was just fine. Part of the problem may actually have been that I’m a redhead. At the time, it was more strawberry blond, but nonetheless, a redhead. Today, medical science acknowledges that redheads react to pain, pain medication, anesthesia, heat, and cold differently. They also, according to myth – which I personally believe – bleed more heavily and heal more slowly. Can’t blame the hospital for all that. What does this all prove? It proves that shit happens. That’s it. Shit happens, but most of time, we survive it. My senior year was not a good one for a variety of reasons, but I got through it. One really good thing that happened throughout all of this? A really cute guy I had met at my boyfriend’s house and had shared a study hall class with my junior year was talking to me more and more. Six years later, we married. And the rest, as they say, is history.