It only seems appropriate I take this time to discuss the plague. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. After all, it’s only been 650 years or so since the bubonic strain took out a third of Europe’s population. I am almost certain the epidemic afflicting first years on Grounds is equally if not more severe. To give you a sense of perspective, the plague is followed, in descending order of severity, by swine flu, mad cow disease and Ebola. We do not laugh about the plague.
I haven’t had a real fever since “the war.” I was eight, and my mother and I were fighting about my allotted television time. So, when I boasted a healthy temperature of 101.8 degrees Fahrenheit last Sunday, it became increasingly apparent my smorgasbord of symptoms signalled a much more serious illness. As I lay in bed, shivering, aching with what felt like death looming, it hit me: It was the plague.
In my fever-induced hallucinogenic state, the intense lower abdominal pain I was experiencing could only mean one thing: appendicitis. Truth be told, I was in a lot of pain and I was a bit scared. Though it wasn’t an outlandish self-diagnosis by any means, it was probably not reason enough to go to the emergency room.
So I went to the emergency room. The clock read 11 p.m., and my Resident Advisor Extraordinaire — that’s not sarcastic, she’s actually wonderful — pointed out that it couldn’t hurt to get a doctor’s opinion, since I looked like hell and Student Health was closed. This was, I believe, a more appropriate response than the one I got from the first RA I ran into, who took one look at me sprawled across our hall, handed me an Aleve and left. I can let it slide, though, because of her major. I know we really can’t expect premed students to know what to do when someone’s sick.
So begins the sad story of how I found myself waiting for an ambulance outside of my dorm on a Sunday night. I’ve made it sound a bit more melodramatic than it actually was — I really only had to wait about two minutes. Those guys are prompt. And by guys, I mean the third-year boy and girl who were the EMT technicians picking me up.
Now, please do not think I am in any way disparaging the work of the lovely students who volunteer for this position. I have boatloads of respect for anyone who can look at needles without fainting — a category of superhumans of which I am not a part. I am simply saying it is mega-super-awkward to be sitting in the back of an ambulance with someone roughly your age when they’re not, say, resuscitating you.
We need not delve into the details of my hospital experience. Let’s just say they ran a lot of tests, came up with no satisfactory results, and my doctor looked like he just walked off the set of Grey’s Anatomy. It was a blessing and a curse — a blessing because he was honestly just so attractive, and a curse because I’m pretty sure I was modeling the latest in hobo-chic. Fun fact: There is no way to make hobo look chic.
About 1 a.m. I was ejected from the facilities. I sat on a bench, pajama-clad and shivering, because I am a first year and we don’t have cars, a reality that takes on new shades of fun when you’re pajama-clad at 1 a.m.
“You in the hospital?” the taxi driver asked.
Yes, blatantly obvious question, taxi man, I was clearly in the hospital. You are the one who picked me up here.
When two days later I was still riding a roller coaster of a fever, I called up good ol’ blatantly-obvious-question taxi man to hitch a ride to Student Health. Turns out Student Health actually backs to the Lawn, and requesting a taxi is akin to requesting a limo to get to O-Hill. I paid in big bills because apparently that’s the kind of lifestyle I lead.
At Student Health, my doctor literally ran in, opened my mouth, looked inside, ran out and came back with a prescription for a cocktail of drugs, one of which involved codeine. I think he has a bright future ahead of him providing medical marijuana to people with “shoulder pain.”
Still, whatever he gave me, it worked. I have since been brought back to life — but it was a close call. We do not laugh about the plague.
Julia’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.