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  • Below is the account I wrote shortly after what's in the account happened. I still stand tall with my "NEVER FORGET" ribbons on this; to summarize this entire event I will often simply refer to it as "my personal 9/11."

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    March-April, 2003: I hadn’t been feeling too good for a while. The migraines were becoming more frequent and severe, and the fatigue was overwhelming. Routine had become changing into pajamas at 5:30, laying out my clothes for the next day, then laying down until dinner, cooking, then laying back down right afterwards. In the evenings, I would end up burying my head into Angie’s torso while she watched TV, and I struggled to listen over top of the splitting pain. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxyn – none could combat it. I woke every morning so nauseated that I questioned Angie’s sex – all the signs of morning sickness. Was it Immaculate Conception? A little dyke Jesus? I took lots of zinc, lots of ibuprofen, lots of coffee… anything to stave off the pain for just a while longer. Total discard of these methods had amounted to even worse pain at night. Angie and I packed furiously for our move.

    Moving into the house was such an exciting endeavor. My own house, my own space, and I was sharing it with the woman of my dreams. We were poor, but doing a lot better with my new job. Working in insurance sucks, but I was promised a full time job, benefits, and compensation for building the company’s website. They may have been ignorant rednecks, but they seemed to want me. I got an embroidered company jacket and everything; I was “part of the team.” The week before the move, I ran a low-grade fever for a day or two, but it went down, and I felt shitty but functional. The move was a trial in patience, perseverance, and pure love from friends and family.

    I made it through work on Monday only because I had missed half a day the previous week, and now that rent was so much more, missing more work was unthinkable. Tuesday morning I drove Angie to work at 6am, and I said, “I don’t feel so good, baby. I might have to call into work again.” I dropped her off, went home for another 45 minutes of sleep. I passed out cold.

    When the alarm clock went off, it went off like cannons throughout the entire scope of space; I rolled over but I wasn’t rolling but I wasn’t stopping. I opened my eyes to a super-sonic moving blindness that tore through my entire body.

    I’m having a stroke I’m having a stroke I’m having a stroke

    Was all I could think, then I began vomiting. I tried to stand, I fell. I was blind. All I could hear were silence and alarm clocks. My alarm clock, the ringing in my ears, the wall, the wall, the wall and I just kept falling even after I knew I had hit the ground. I wet myself. I could open my eyes, but it was like being on a merry-go-round at 50mph. No definition of objects, just an arc-streak that grew and shrank and rang and rang and rang. I stood. I fell. I vomited. I moaned. I moved. I moaned. I vomited. I dry heaved. I dry heaved. I laid on the floor, I held my body perfectly still and heaved and moaned and cried.

    I was more terrified than I had ever been, and I thought I had felt it all. Having had guns pointed at my face was terrifying, was a loss of control I never thought could be surpassed.

    I had to get to a phone. I had to get help. I had to get to the bathroom. I had to move, I had to get somewhere. I had to but couldn’t. I was certain I was going to die. I have never, never in my life felt more certain of that. Every change in direction took several minutes of violent adjustment. I moved one knee, one elbow at a time and crawled, sobbing and dry heaving, and falling over and pulling my body like a dying animal down the hallway. My taupe mile. I doubted that I would live to reach the phone. I moaned.

    When I reached the phone, I dropped it three times. I couldn’t hold on to anything. I opened my eyes and dry heaved. There were no numbers, no keypad – just that arc stabbing sideways through my ears. I pressed buttons, examined the panel, dialed several times before it rang correctly. I called Angie at work and begged her to get me, to take me to the hospital. Of course, I had by then forgotten that she had no car. I told her to get a ride, get home, get me to the emergency room.

    Nearly an hour passed. I have never felt such an agony that I could not control whether or not I was moaning. I moaned and rocked and held my body still. I opened my eyes, heaved. I closed my eyes, heaved. I cried and clawed at my face, at my ears, at my head. I held my head like a vice between my hands and waited, whimpering and moaning.

    Car rides make it worse.

    I was seen right away at the ER – this, of course, was the visit during which I was misdiagnosed and sent home with instructions “not to eat spicy foods.” I KNEW that was bullshit. But the worst had passed. I slept for 12 hours. When I woke, Angie was giving me antibiotics and propping me up on the couch. She had picked Jake up from the vet, where he had had a luxury stay for $271. He was on antibiotics as well. I spent the night in a delirium, slept in fits, then woke again the next morning feeling like shit. But since I’d been told I “might just have a bacterial stomach infection,” I went to work.

    I should not have driven. I should not have tried to go to work. I was alert, but my eyes were so blurred I couldn’t see my data entry busywork. I tried to file, but kept falling over. I was getting strange looks from co-workers. I started to feel worse, but I made it until lunch; I went to Angie’s job. There, the car broke down.

    I called into work as the second attack began. Angie took me home, propped me up, and sat helplessly with me. When I woke the next morning into the same relentless agony – and I mean “agony” in the truest, most serious way a person can – I begged her to take me back to the emergency room. Because the last ER doctor was obviously ignorant, we went to a different hospital. This visit was more surreal than the last -- no one was in the ER, not even nurses. Then there was a fantastically obese nurse named “Matilda” who was rolling me over to stick a needle in my ass, and then, the doctor. “Viral Labyrinthitis,” he declared, and sent me home, still having the attack, but now sedated. I slept for 24 hours. I slept sitting upright. I slept sitting upright for another week.

    I had four severe attacks, each lasting several hours. Over the next month, I had constant severe dizziness and stabbing ear pain. I have no idea what has happened to my body, but I know it is forever changed.
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