I was watching (yet another) film about 9-11 while looking up symptoms on the internet in an attempt to self-diagnose my illness. Of course by the time I finished looking up my symptoms, my prognosis wasn’t good and possibly terminal. Sadly, I suspected it was a severe case of Botulism.
The further I read about it, the tighter my chest became. I was like a slow trainwreck in perpetual motion becoming sicker by the sentence. The bacteria, Clostridium Botulinum are among the most poisonous toxins known to exist. The fact that the illness is extremely rare, didn’t seem to affect my diagnosis.
I jumped up and ran for the kitchen to grab a paper bag. I sat in a chair with my head between my legs blowing into the bag saying “it’s okay… it’s okay… I’ll get help”.
Around this time AJ walked in the door from a poker game he had been at. He looked at me with a worried sideways look and said “Are you okay? What have you been doing? I thought you were in bed.”
“I was in bed. I was watching a 9-11 movie, but then I started looking up my symptoms to-”
“WHAT?? I told you not to do that anymore! Babe you’re making it worse. You’re catastrophizing your illness”
“Maybe that might have happened in the past, but not this time. I am sure I have it right. I have all of the symptoms. Muscle weakness, blurred vision, trouble swallowing… It’s all here, look I printed it out.”
“You don’t have botulism…”
“Oh and what are you a fucking doctor now?”
“No but I know how I feel”
“You can’t diagnose yourself on the internet… You just can’t! You haven’t taken into account things like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature… all of those things matter.”
“So what are you calling me a liar now?”
“No… I’m not saying that at all… You just. Well you just have a vivid imagination and sometimes when you read things it makes you believe them. Just like why I tell you not to watch movies like the one you were watching before bed, because you wake up thinking your dying.”
“Well I need to know if I have Botulism.”
So we went to the emergency room and checked in at the triage. AJ whispered to me while we were waiting that I shouldn’t mention the Botulism and let them draw their own conclusions. I disagreed and promptly declared “I have Botulism” when the nurse asked me why I was there.
She looked like she was trying not to laugh, which angered me, so I presented her with the information I had printed out with the highlighted symptoms I had been experiencing. She took my vitals and asked me to sit in the waiting room until I was called.
“What the fuck? This disease could kill me, and she wants me to go wait patiently in the waiting room”
“Babe you don’t know what it is yet, you just think it’s Botulism”
“Well I think I know my body better than that whore.”
“Don’t get mad. That won’t help. Let’s just wait until we’re called”
Two hours, a broken leg, a bleeding head, an old bird, and a stomach wound later… we were called in. We went into another room, where we waited another 45 minutes for a doctor to come in.
The doctor walked in smiling and said “so… I hear we have a case of Botulism here.”
I glared at him and said “very funny doctor. nice to see you’re so compassionate.”
He asked me some questions and checked me out and gave me the diagnosis of STOMACH FLU!!
We left with some antibiotics, but I still wasn’t impressed. I didn’t believe that it was the stomach flu. AJ was just happy to be leaving the hospital, it was 4AM.
The next morning AJ woke me up and brought me some toast with jam and tea to wash down my antibiotics with. I told him that I didn’t think I should have to take these pills for a diagnosis that was wrong.
“Just take the pills… They’re antibiotics, they’ll help you even if it’s not the stomach flu”
“They’re too big… they’re like horse pills. They’re just gonna get lodged in my throat, then I’ll choke and die, which I guess is better than a Botulism death.”
So I took the pills. And eventually I did get better, and didn’t die.