If you’ve got the time, you may want to pop over to Part 1 of this story to get yourself some context. . .
By this point, I had alerted a few friends regarding my condition, and my friend Sarah called Marty with all the diagnostic support Google could provide. “Yeah, she’s swelling real bad, and she has nasty hives–” Marty was listing my symptoms as I scratched and wriggled. It was getting harder to swallow. The close air of the car suddenly felt intolerable to me, and I flung open the door and stumbled into the parking lot.
“I don’t really know what’s going on, but she just jumped out of the car,” I heard Marty say behind me. I sat on a nearby curb and scratched and scratched, focusing on taking long, calming breaths. How ironic that this comes on the heels of our discussion about physical appearance, I realized, smiling to myself.
Marty hopped out of the car. “How’s your pulse?”
I felt it. “Fast, but not crazy.”
“Well,” Marty said, “you have three of the four really bad symptoms, and I have the tachychardia, so between us, we present one convincing case of anaphylactic shock. We’re going in.”
I rolled my eyes. “This is not a big deal, dude. I’m gonna feel stupid. We’re going to go in and they’ll say there’s nothing they can do for me, and I should stop being such a wuss.”
Marty, clearly ignoring me, suddenly interrupted. “You know, every guy has visions of carrying some girl to safety. . .and I would do that now, but if I tried to carry you, I would have to call the ER from the parking lot and say, ‘Hey, we have an allergic reaction out here. . .and I just broke my back.” (And that, my friends, is a perfect depiction of my relationship with Marty).
“Marty!” I burst out laughing. . .and then, suddenly, the world spun. “Woah now!” I reached out and grabbed Marty’s elbow.
“Um. . .I need to sit down,” I said. My tongue felt thick, and I was slurring my words a bit. Marty half-dragged me to a nearby bench. “Sit down. I’ll go get help.”
I lay on the bench for a moment, taking deep breaths. It would be way easier for the ER people if I was in there with Marty. You can make it, Lauren. Stop being such a freakin’ wuss. You’re totally making this up.
I struggled to my feet and headed in. Marty, seeing me, turned around to meet me at the door–and in the nick of time. Barely able to walk, I grabbed his arm and then, as we walked into the ER doors, I suddenly lost all sensory perception. Everything started to alternately spin and turn black. “I can’t see, I can’t see!” I mumbled, though I may well have been screaming–I couldn’t hear anything. Time stopped–or rather, I dropped out of time for a moment.
I suddenly came to and saw 3 Martys in front of my face. They were saying something over and over, but I couldn’t grasp the meaning. Leaning forward, I finally managed to catch the word “Backward.” Wha–? Even my brain was slurring. I had no idea what that word was supposed to convey to me. Backward. . .backward? I stared stupidly at Marty, trying to plan my next course of action. Then the decision was taken from me as Marty and the ER attendant all but kicked my legs out from under me and dropped me into a wheelchair, where I slumped over like a stringless marionette. This isn’t funny anymore. Until that very moment, I had been more amused than worried. Now, I was just miserable.
My stomach alternately burned and churned, and I wanted desperately to throw up, but didn’t have the energy. I wanted to speak, but couldn’t move my mouth–or form a coherent thought, for that matter. I wanted to lie down, but couldn’t get enough momentum to lean forward and let gravity take care of the rest. The world spun as I slumped there, completely unaware of my surroundings beyond the tiny square of linoleum that kept spinning and changing shapes before my eyes.
Marty touched my shoulder. You still with me? He seemed to call from a distance. I opened my mouth and let sounds drift out as they would. Anything else was too much of an effort. Deep breaths, Lauren. Deep breaths. You’re fine. You got this. . .if I die of an ant bite, I hope people feel free to laugh at my funeral. This is ridiculous. Also, I’ve never felt this sick in my life.
And then, with shocking suddennes, my vision cleared. My breathing eased. My head cleared. I didn’t want to die. One moment I was a crucial player in the modern art piece Death In the Chair, and the next, I was sitting up and stretching my cramped muscles. Oh. I’m better!
Someone pulled my chair over to the front desk as I tried to orient myself using my rediscovered sensory perception.
“Ok, I’m just going to ask you a few questions,” said a ruggedly handsome doctor (any fogginess in my vision cleared right up when I saw him).
“Ok.” I mumbled. My mouth wasn’t quite working yet, but I had high hopes.
“What’s your name?”
I strained forward. My hearing was still thick. “Lauren Wiest. W-I-E-S-T.” I felt ridiculously proud of my enunciation.
I leaned forward again, trying to understand him. “6/7/87.”
“She’s having trouble hearing,” Marty informed the doctor.
“Oh, ok.” Bending over, the doctor looked me in the eye and hollered with the timbre of a rodeo announcer, “WHEN WAS YOUR LAST MENSTRUAL CYCLE?”
I threw my life an “I hate you” look. This was asinine.
“Ok, Ms. Wiest, we’re going to get your vitals checked out,” the doctor said.
“Thank you sir.” I spared the poor man a bloated smile. “Marty, I’m way better now.”
“Yeah, you look better. Also, now I know how much you weigh,” Marty helpfully pointed out. Apparently my answers to the doctor had been pretty clear, after all.
“Thanks for that.”
And, just like that, the worst of the plight was over. The nurses took my vitals and sent me out to wait for a room to open up. My friend Christine broke all speed laws to join us in the ER and catch a glimpse of my face before all the ugly drained out of it, and the three of us spent the next several hours tracking the reaction as it worked its itchy way out of my body.
Marty brought me up to date on his end of the story, which involved my nasty swollen face turning gray/blue and my eyes rolling back in my head, the vision of which probably gives him nightmares to this day. The network of people who had been offering their support, from Marty’s mother and fiancee to my still-asleep-in-Turkey parents, were apprised of the fact that I was recovering, in body if not in beauty*.
And I now owe my life to a dude who knows how much I weigh; well played, Marty, well played.
*I’m attaching the photo Marty snapped in case you ever feel the need to frighten small children witless.