The Thing About Death

Self medicating is never the answer.

I was studying myself in the mirror when I began feeling a bit odd. What was it about myself that made me feel so different? The shape of my face remained the same and my neck was still pretty slim. What was it about this moment that was out of the norm? I was exercising somewhat on a daily basis. Maybe I was pushing it too hard? I knew it was a bad idea to push out an extra five army push-ups. I knew I should have settled for the regular girl push-ups, but I never listen. I had never felt this hot before.

I noticed it when I opened my mouth. Enlarged tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, and a fatigue that could only mean one thing… death. For the next couple of days, I tried not to notice the rapid increase of symptoms. Day after day I tried to keep my cool with positive reinforcement. If there was anything Oprah had taught me, there is nothing you can’t overcome with the power of positive thinking!

“I’m fine.”

“I know I’m fine.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“There’s no need to panic.”

“Is it getting hotter in here or is it just me?”

“Why is it so cold?”

“I’ll just take some Advil.”

Two days later, I had lost a remarkable five pounds. Enough with the vitamins, carrots, and the misbranded Slim Jims. This was it. I admitted that my body must be slowly eating itself. All of my work with vegan raw fish dieting and female exercise routines was now slowing deteriorating. I was not just losing weight, I was losing muscle. No food and barely any water consumption was not the way to live. How do all these teen models do it? I wondered.

“Oh dear GOD, no!” I could no longer drown in denial. As I looked on at the thermometer numbers, I had no other choice but to admit it. What I was suffering from was a fucken fever.

If there is one thing I know for sure about myself, it is that I become an eight-year-old girl only when I get the fever and by this time in the symptom timeline, I could see the pigtails starting to tangle in my hair.

To begin with, the fever was manageable. A couple of Advil here and there mixed in with a dash of Tylenol and some Ibuprofen to loosen me up. I was fine. Years of experience had proved that my mixing so many medications together worked. I just had to remember two things before medicating: No alcohol and no heavy machinery. What’s the worse that could happen?

A couple of hours later, I noticed that my lymph nodes had significantly doubled in size. It was as if I was nesting two large boiled eggs in my throat. “That’s it,” I said to myself. I must need neck surgery or else I’m going to die. The thing about being sick is that no matter how severe its the fear of death that finally gets to me. In fact, death seems to be the answer for all of my life’s problems.

A simple work conversation with my boss might conclude as follows:

BOSS: May I see you in my office?

ME: Yeah, what’s up?

BOSS: We have to let you go.

ME: (long pause) But this is the only job I have.

BOSS: We’re sorry.

ME: Fuck it. I might be dead by tomorrow anyway.

The need to worry is automatically eliminated when the thought of death pops into my mind. Nothing really beats death. There’s hope, sure, but the only hope that I have when ill is to hope to die, and the two swollen eggs at the top of my neck served as enough motivation to end it all.

A sore throat quickly became a pool of infestation. Simple tasks like drinking, swallowing, or even breathing became painful. It was as if I had thorns growing on the inside of my throat.

Trying to remain calm, I did what every civil human would do, I googled my symptoms. I expected my search results to come back what I already knew was the diagnosis: Discomfort. Severe Pain. Death. The actual results pointed to something called streptococcal pharyngitis, also known as Strep Throat.

“Dear GOD, I protested, take my balls but not my right to eat!”

By this time, I could only ingest hot liquids. Hot water, tea, and soup were on the menu every day. I sought out medical advice from Web MD once I heard that ignoring professional help might result in the spreading of the bacteria to different organs. A simple and torturous sore throat might spread to become scarlet fever or a collection of puss — something I called Scarlet’s Puss. I needed to speak to a health care professional right away to try to avoid this Scarlet’s Puss. Maybe they knew something that the internet or I didn’t already know.

I gave in to visiting the doctor’s office three days into my sickness and was sent home with a diagnosis of acute tonsillitis. Not a great way to die but it’s just what they say: it’s the experience that counts, right?

The thing about death is that’s it’s a bitch. You try to live your life until you’re suddenly reminded that evil does exist. This evil goes around infecting bodies causing the most innocent of people pain and suffering, wishing, by some stroke of luck, they’ll have the courage to end it all.