TMI Thursday: in which my sanity took a hiatus

A decade ago, I was minding my own business as a sophomore in college. At the time, I attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington. (That was my lone semester there, and the story I'm about to share made the semester a memorable one.)

So. It was November -- in fact, it was the first Tuesday in November -- the day of the Presidential Election. My then-boyfriend then-lived in Louisville, and came over to Lex. for a visit.

The day before, I had started to experience intense back pain. The walk from my Monday math class was a literal trek across campus, and I had to stop and take a break because I was in so much pain. I didn't know if I would make it back to my dorm room.

My then-boyfriend arrived and we attended a folky concert Monday night. After, I laid in my bed with a heating pad beneath me and moaned and moaned.

The next day, I felt only slightly better. The boyfriend and I decided to do something low-key, so we went to a movie. Halfway through the film, the pain in my back became so severe that I started crying and shaking.

We left and went to the emergency room at the University Hospital.

I am not sure how long we sat in the waiting room, but I believe it was hours. At first, I sat very still, trying to block out the pain by concentrating on election coverage spewing from the small television matted in the corner of the room. I was very quiet,  and shivering though burning up with fever. I got sick in the restroom. I felt like death.

All I remember is at some point everything went hazy. It was like trying to drive in heavy fog.

A man next to me moaned ("I'm so sick" and "Ohh, it hurts") and it sounded like he was mocking me. Nurses and would-be-patients talked in hushed tones at the reception desk, looking up from time to time and scanning the room with their brows narrowed. In my world, I thought they were staring at me as though I were suspiciuos, up to something. I swore I saw my then-boyfriend get up and have a full-on argument with a nurse and then make a phone call (I somehow knew that he was calling a doctor...) from a little room near the automatic doors that led into the hospital -- a room I would later learn did not exist.

I figured out what all the hushed whispers were about: all these people in the waiting room thought my boyfriend and I were posing as a low income couple in an attempt to try to get into seen by a doctor faster. Somehow, this was all politically motivated and we were a part of some conspiracy theory type of experiment -- in the eyes of all these other people in the waiting room. It hardly even makes sense to tell the story now, but it sure seemed real at the time.

Don't misunderstand. I didn't think I was part of the conspiracy. I knew at the time there was no conspiracy, but for some reason I believed everyone else thought this was the case -- so I made a big show of actually being ill -- calling my mom, calling and letting my employer know I was in the emergency room and wouldn't be at work for awhile.

I noticed a man standing near the reception desk who shook his head and looked in my direction and laughed in disbelief. A nurse had just handed him a piece of paper.

Though I had been sitting in silence for hours -- practically unable to move because of the pain -- I jumped up, and announced in a shout, "There is something very wrong going on here!" I moved toward the entrance. "No one can leave. You are all witnesses. I'm a reporter for the Kentucky Colonel" (this part was true) "and I'm going to blow the cover off this story!"

See, I thought the nurse had given the man who laughed the results of my urine test... which would prove to him whether or not I was sick. (Oh, nevermind that I hadn't given a urine sample yet.)

I explained to the nurse her crime. She looked at me as if I was high. "Ma'am, we did not give out your test results to anyone."

A security officer arrived. Apparently, he'd been paged with the following information: we have an unruly female in the E.R. He attempted to corroborate the nurse's story of innocence.

"Of course you would say that she did nothing wrong. You work for the hospital. I want to talk to someone not affiliated with this hospital!" (I was getting a little louder at this point. Now, people actually were starting to stare.)

"Do you want us to call the Lexington police?"

"Yeah. Call them."

My then-boyfriend took me outside to try to calm me down. In highsight, it was also probably an attempt to get away from the looks of concern, confusion, and pity aimed in his direction. Standing alone under the neon lights of the emergency room entrance, he tried to understand what I thought had transpired. He tried to explain that I was straight nuts had imagined the whole thing.

The police car pulled up before I really believed this escapade was the product of my high fever (and perhaps, my overly active imagination.)

As he opened his cruiser, I put my hand on the door to sort of "help" him out.

"Step away from the car, ma'am."


So, after explaining that I was not strung out on drugs, I ended up apologizing to the nurse for my accusation. I was admitted to the hospital with an extremely high fever and e coli bacteria swimming around in my blood stream. (The diagnosis was Pyelonephritis, fancy for a bad kidney infection. A nurse friend later told me that there is a 75% mortality rate associated with this ailment. I'm not completely sure he knew what he was talking about, but I did receive IV injections of Cipro, the medicine used to treat exposure to Anthrax, so it is fair to say that I was one sick little lady. I stayed in the hospital for the better part of a week.)

Since I was at a university hospital, I got to explain my shennanigans to a team of doctors, one after another, who had already heard bits and pieces about my outburst and wanted the juicy details. Back then, I swore to never recount this story to anyone else except my immediate family, since it was, you know, kind of embarrassing.

The next morning my then-boyfriend ran into a man who had witnessed my bout of crazy.

"Is that girl your girlfriend?"

"Uh, yeah," said my then-boyfriend.

"Dude," he said. "You've got your hands full with that one."

Be sure to visit Lilu's blog for more tragic tales!


There was a football player up near Fort Wayne, IN who died this past week from the same type of infection.

So, yeah, it's pretty nasty.
Travener said…
I was so out of it when I had pneumonia that I once hid in the closet and demanded of my wife that she tell me who she was.

At any rate, that's what my wife claims. I have no recollection of it.
pinkflipflops said…
hahaha.. thank you so much .. i needed that laugh right now. i bet your ex gets a lot of mileage out of that one haha.. i once dated one crazy broad.. :)
jayme said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
jayme said…
not gonna lie - when i read "I was admitted to the hospital with an extremely high fever and e coli bacteria swimming around in my blood stream."

...all i could think was "I was admitted to the MENTAL hospital..."

Tina Lynn said…
Wow, that's really scary, Amber. Instead of making me laugh, this post just made me really thankful that you made it through that to be one of my bestest blogger buddies. *wipes brow, thanks lucky stars*
carissajaded said…
ohhh girl! that whole experience just sounds awful.... funny to an outsider, but awful. i have to admit that sounds like something my crazy head would come up with. i'm very paranoid, and even more so when i don't feel well!!
mjenks - No way, seriously? That's nuts. I guess I was really lucky.

trav - Well, at least I am not alone in my hallucinations.

pink flip flops - Yeah, I'm pretty sure said ex-boyfriend loving tell that story after our relationship ended. :)

jayme - take your diagnosis-spice and get outta hear. j/k!

tina - aww, thanks for the love.

carissa - haha - yeah. I wasn't ever that paranoid before this experience, but became that way after it. *looks around with shifty eyes* Unfortunately, this freak out was a precursor to un-touches with reality #'s two and three, which are less funny, but are moments I will probably blog about... someday. (Pass the ambien! Wait -- was that you or another blogger? Er, uh. Nevermind.)
Jeney Peney said…
Oh wow... that's impressive.

My mom went a little bonkers like that once after taking some pain meds and announced to the whole house that, "I may not be dead, but I am going where Nemo is!" before passing out.
my sanity takes a hiatus, often. very often.
Yikes! That is scary! And a little funny. But mostly scary!

It's just way easier to laugh at illness later, when you aren't ill, anymore.
Susan R. Mills said…
That's awful. I'm glad it turned out okay.
Shandal said…
Oh my goodness, it did sound like you were on drugs though!
I have an award for you!
ElanaJ said…
That's a funny story! In hindsight, of course. I bet it wasn't funny at the time, right? :)
Jeney Peney - Your mom said she was going swimming with the fishies?

Chelsea who talks smack - yeah, my sanity has been known to go on extended vacation without a high fever to blame. Alas. What's a gal to do?

(not) Just Another Sarah - Yeah, definitely easier to laugh about it now!

Susan - thanks!

Shandal - Thanks for the award. You are too kind.

Elana - Yes, funny in hindsight. I was laughing about it before I even left the hospital, because I try to be a good sport about things.

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