So about a month or two ago I ended up coming down with tonsillitis, and let me tell you, that’s one deceptively shitty illness to have. Not deceptively shitty in the sense that I never thought that tonsillitis was that big of a deal, but more because when you first get it, you think, “Oh, I’m just battling a little cold, I’ll get over it,” and the next thing you know you’re pulled over on the side of the road vomiting phlegm through your car window. But that’s not where the shittiness ended.
Nor is it where the shittiness began. It ultimately started on a Tuesday. I started to cough a good bit and get a mild sore throat. So I did what anyone would do: get jacked up on Cepacol and go through my day like the goddamn man I enjoy pretending to be. I suppose a good idea would also have been to cut back on smoking cigarettes, but addiction doesn’t give a fuck about sore throats, so I didn’t even bother. I go to work and, go figure, I feel like crap by the time I get out, so I decide to grab a couple of drinks to numb the soreness, and then just fall into a sweet, smooth, Irish whiskey sleep. Unfortunately, luck somehow wasn’t on my side that night (or week), as I ended up waking up about three or four times throughout the night. One time is fine, I suppose. You can refill your water, double check your alarm, crank one out if you need to, take some more melatonin, and pee. Twice? You can’t take melatonin again because you’ll risk sleeping through your alarm and straight into the next night. You could crank it again, but only if it’s been a good while since the first time you woke up and you have really soft and smooth hands. Otherwise, pee again. It’s probably because of that second glass of water anyway. Three or more times, though, is completely fucking absurd.
The next day (when I finally wake up for good), I feel even worse than I did the day before. At that point, my throat starts to hurt more, and I can’t even swallow without it feeling like I’m trying to swallow a mouthful of Cap’n Crunch with not milk. I go about my day like I did before, getting hopped up on lozenges and NSAIDs. I go to work, and I continue to feel like generic shit. So I decide maybe I should try to drink myself to sleep again. That’s a good idea, right? Nope. As I’m driving from work to the bar, that’s when the phlegm vomiting on the side of the road incident happens, and I think to myself, “Maybe I’ll just go home and go to bed.”
And that’s exactly what I did. I went to bed. I didn’t go to sleep, I just went to my bed. My throat had gotten so swollen that whenever I started to drift away, I started to not breathe, which isn’t really something that works out in the long run. So at around 7:30 AM, I decided that I should just give up on the sleeping thing, get jacked on stimulants, and go about my day. Fortunately, I ended up not having a horrible day, aside from the increasingly painful swallowing, sore throat, coughing, and symptomatic feelings of an oncoming death. I go to work, half-ass most of it, go back home, and try to go to bed again. And like the night before, I don’t sleep. I start to think that maybe I should see a doctor at this point.
So there I was, Friday morning, dragging my ass to the urgent care, barely awake (read: spending all of my energy trying to remember how to breathe), and just wanting nothing more than to get some high end prescriptions to make me a glazed over zombie for a couple of days. And let me tell you something, sitting in the waiting room of an urgent care with half a dozen sick babies and their mothers is a miserable experience. So miserable that even having my name called didn’t help, because it made all the mothers look at me with disgust and anger that I was getting to see the doctor before their little bundles of snot and joy could get their colds taken care of. Whatever. I contribute. I buy American. I’m a non-exempt, full-time employee for a local business. Plus I was checked in first. Sucks to suck, crybabies.
So I go about the normal doctor stuff, and the doctor tells me that I’ve got pustular tonsillitis. When I hear this, I immediately think one thing: How long until this doctor makes an underhand dick-sucking joke? Hell, if I were a doctor, I’d make it a prerogative to tell at least one subtle, backhanded dick-sucking joke per patient. Maybe even one blatant one per week. Then he started describing what pustular tonsillitis actually was. Basically, my tonsils became enlarged and swollen, and were very sensitive to anything touching it, and secreted a whitish puss in the back of my throat, with which I could only do two things: spit or swallow. I couldn’t even ask him any questions because I was just trying not to laugh. I end up walking out of there with a shit-eating grin on my face, partly because I’m still thinking about all the jokes, but mostly because I’m pretty sure that the receptionist had just completely forgotten to charge me the co-pay for my visit (I didn’t pay then, and I still haven’t gotten a bill (Thanks Obama)).
And this is when the tonsillitis actually starts to become entertaining. I drag my ass out of the urgent care, hop in the damn Impala, and pull up to Walgreens to pick up my prescription. Now, as many of you know, the pharmacy counter in most Walgreens is located in the back of the store. The part of Walgreens that houses the uncharted areas of old people shit and drug test kits. And sweet Jesus is exploring that area of Walgreens the most hilarious experience when you’re stumbling around having not slept in about 60 hours. If the two packs of cigarettes, four pints of Diet Coke, and a half bottle of Dayquil surging through your veins don’t make your eyes feel like they’re about to pop out of your fucking skull, perhaps the fact that you can play doctor and test yourself for Hep C for the low, bargain price of $34.99 will lend a helping hand. Or maybe the fact that paternity tests are only $40 (Which is really kind of false advertising, because if you read the back of the package (which, of course, I did), you would know that there’s a hidden $120 lab fee in order to get the test results back. And if you’re going to Walgreens to discover who your baby daddy is, then you really can’t afford that extra $120. That’s six 30-racks of Bud Light, which is exactly what people who get paternity tests at Walgreens drink for breakfast. (Bud Light: The Breakfast of NASCAR Champions)).
And that’s not even taking into account the bathroom supplies for old people that are for sale there. Hell, you can buy handrails for damn near every surface of your bathroom. Toilet handrails? Check. Bathtub Handrails? Check. Plastic chairs so you can sit down in the shower instead of standing? Check. Shit, they’ve even got these two-and-a-half foot plastic extenders so you can wipe your own ass more easily. Imagine all the calories I’ve been wasting actually reaching around? Plus, it cuts down on the risk of having your fingers break through the toilet paper, so you can use less. Hell, I could get that thing, save a few calories here and there, have enough energy to go to the gym so I could become healthy enough that I’m not sitting in the back of Walgreens trying to count the amount of calories it takes to wipe your own ass. And I’m not trying to knock old people for being old and having bodies that have become so naturally-deteriorated to the point where they need to resort to this kind of product, but keep in mind the volatile concoction of legal narcotics that I chose to ingest instead of going to the doctor earlier. Plus that ass brush has an extendable head, so I’m more of the mind that it’s really more of a luxury than a necessity.
But I digress. I take my antibiotics, wash it down with a Mountain Dew and a foot-long Spicy Italian, and lay down to watch some Doomsday Preppers, because why the fuck not? (Also, why am I not doing any of that shit? Have you heard about Gaza lately? And has everybody forgot about the Mayans? What about Superstorm Sandy? It’s only a matter of time before we’re all fucked, so why not make sure that when the nuclear winter ends, I’m the one walking around and rebuilding society, slendered down by a steady diet of creamed corn and protein shakes.) I rest, I regain some energy, take a couple hours off from smoking, and let those antibiotics kick in. In fact, I’ve got so much energy that I decide it’s a great time to go grocery shopping. And, dear Panda aficionados, that decision is very important, because going grocery shopping at that exact moment was the landmark one-millionth mistake in my life.
Grocery shopping is always chaotic for me (mostly because I’m really against making grocery lists (mostly because I’m horrible at impulse control (mostly because I really enjoy eating the type of food that will make me so obese that I’ll need one of those extendable ass-wiping brushes by the time I turn 40))). But this was a different chaos. This was the kind of chaos that was caused by the fact that I was starting to lose some of my finer motor skills and couldn’t really read anything anymore, and just kind of had to guess which brand was which by color scheme and the quality of cardboard that it was packed in. And upon realizing this, I decided it would be a good idea to get out of there as soon as possible, so the most logical thing was to speed-shop (walk as fast as possible through the store and not really think of what I was grabbing, and just making sure that the quantity was enough to get me through the next two weeks). Actually, I’m not really sure if that last thing about speed shopping was true, because I don’t remember it. Or most of the grocery store, for the matter. I only remember showing up at the grocery store, not being able to read, and wanting to get out of there as soon as possible. But it seems like the only logical thing that I could come up the next day when I took stock of what the fuck I actually bought.
I had only gotten about four hours of sleep that night, but it seemed like eternity when I saw that the clock read seven AM and I peeled my face off of the pool of drool that had formed. I was so excited for the sleep I had gotten that I had forgot that about half of that drool was actually the pustular excrement from my now slightly less engorged tonsils. So I showered, got my laundry ready to take to the laundry shop, and decided to make some breakfast. In my pantry, I found a twelve-pack of canned Sunny-D, which was in-and-of-itself a pretty stellar find in hindsight, but it couldn’t make up for the despicable conglomerate of processed shit that awaited me in the freezer. Stouffers Mac N’ Cheese (which actually made me borderline nostalgically happy, as it reminded me of the good ole college days when I got stoned and made my own Mac N’ Cheese pizzas with my roommates), Banquet chicken finger dinners (that shit came with a chocolate fudge brownie), Banquet riblet dinners (I threw that one away without even trying it), and the piece de resistance, a Johnsonville ring bologna. I remember eating ring bologna as a kid and thinking that it was the greatest thing in existence, like it was a six-year-old’s equivalent of eating a five-course fine dining meal when in reality it’s just a poor people’s family-sized shitty hot dog. And it made me realize that my family was really poor when I was a kid, because I remember us splitting one of those fuckers between five of us at a table that was about the same square footage as the “crappy” TV that I’ve got sitting in my parents basement and didn’t want to take with me when I moved out because I’ve already got a better TV and nowhere to put the second one and I don’t want to expend the energy to carry it anywhere. Plus I’m not about to go out of my way to buy an extra AUX cable if I don’t have to.
But back to reality, and I’m sitting there with a foot-and-a-half of beef scrap molded into a semi-circular sausage that fucking straightened out when I cooked it so it wasn’t even a ring anymore, but more of a shitty arc that’s too greasy for the ketchup to stick to it, so I have to use the knife to scoop the ketchup onto it and use all of my attention to try and hold the fork steady enough so that the processed sugar-tomato sauce doesn’t slide off onto my hoodie, and I suddenly knew what it’s like to be slumming it. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything. I was stoned on antibiotics and weed and I was eating a gigantic low-end hot dog with a can of Sunny-D for breakfast.
So even though the rest of the week and a half that I was on antibiotics wasn’t exactly the most fun or eventful, it was still uphill from that point. I started getting full nights of sleep on the fourth night. I started to get some of my mind back from the brink of insanity. I started to realize that maybe I should have used my illness as an excuse to start quitting smoking instead of just cutting back for three days. But shit, let’s be real, addiction doesn’t care if you’re sick, and I needed all the happy brain chemicals I could get (dopamine, or serotonin, or whatever the fuck it is. I don’t know. I’ve got an English degree, not something of actual intellectual merit). But hey, if lung cancer is anywhere near as miserable as having tonsillitis was, maybe I’ll give quitting a shot at some point (I’m aiming for by the time some poor woman who, for some reason, wants to spend her life with me and give birth to my spawn. You know, so I can be a role model and shit. And have enough money so that I’m not economically forced to feed them ring bologna). Actually, scratch that, “all uphill from that point,” idea, because now I know that extendable ass-wipers exist, and that they are in the same section of Walgreens as the 12-in-1 drugs tests, STI screeners, and paternity tests. It’s like a little piece of West Virginia available to the whole country. I never needed to experience that. Nobody does.
Take it easy,