Friday, August 01, 2008

The Session: The Golden Anniversary That Nearly Killed Me

For this month's The Session, we are taking a trip down memory lane to a time when Miller High Life and Genesee's Golden Anniversary were acceptable beer choices. This story is from October of 2004 on a trip to visit my friend Javen in Schenectady, NY. It has some graphic medical terminology, so if you are squeamish you may want to gloss over it a bit. Hope you enjoy.


Have you ever woken up with cotton-mouth? How about a sore throat? How about something hanging out of the back of your throat that feels like one of those sticky octopus things you used to get out of a vending machine that you would throw against the wall and it would climb down? No? Well, all you have to do is drink some beer that doesn't mix with your body or your internal food processing mechanisms and voila, you've got it!

This is a story of my swollen uvula. It's a story that's not for the squeamish, which means it's really not even a story for me. It only lasted but 6 hours or so, but friends, it was a six hours I'd like to forget.

The story starts this past Saturday. Visiting my friends, Javen and Justine (aka T.T., still don't know where that nickname came from), in Schenectady, NY, just a two-hour drive from my home in hardcore urban Syracuse, we had gone to dinner and watched a few innings of the Yankees-Red Sox blowout before heading back for a brief cocktail at the apartment and then out to hopefully more bars. Will was already bitter due to the Red Sox taking an 0-3 dive in the ALCS, and I was just happy to be drunk. We went to a small convenience store, where we looked for the cheapest possible selections. I chose my favorite, Miller High Life, the best cheap beer known to man. But what for our second selection? Which beer would serve a dual function as both an economically-prudent choice but also one that would please the tastebuds as well? The choice was simple: Golden Anniversary, proudly brewed in my hometown of Rochester, New York.

Sure it seemed like a great idea at the time, get some cheap brew to get lit up, then walk to the neighborhood watering holes and slow 'er down with the fancy stuff. As Javen and I embarked on a 6-hour political discussion, we began knocking back brew after brew. I started with the High Life, as is my custom. Even though it is summer no more, the best summer brew this side of Milwaukee was treating me just fine. Curiously, someone handed me a golden can of the Golden Anniversary, and it was just fine too. When you're as far in the bag as I was, you can't tell the difference. Interestingly, I felt no ill-effects while conscious. As 4:30 AM rolled around, Javen and I finally agreed to disagree about Bush and Kerry, and decided to fall asleep. I felt great, a little dizzy, but great.

After what I can only assume is the worst night of sleep in my entire life (the air mattress I slept on collapsed under my burly weight), I awoke around 8 AM and felt the curious sensation of having a deflated balloon attached to the roof of my mouth. I swallowed once and felt a large flap of something undulating in my throat. My first inclination was to assume William and Javen had played a mischievous prank on me by placing something in my mouth as I slept, and I briefly looked forward to the sure-to-follow digital photo documenting the hilarity at my expense. But when I realized everyone else was still comatose, I flipped the hell out.

I ran to the bathroom to check the inside of my mouth. It was too dark to see in the bathroom, so I had to turn the light on, but the marquee-style lighting was too bright for my sensitive eyes, so I had to pull of an idiotic-looking maneuver by which I tilted my head back, opened my mouth in the say-ahhh position, shielded my eyes like a visor and stared into the horrifying abyss that was my mouth. I saw two tongues: my actual tongue and the second one where my uvula (the little punching bag in the back of the throat) used to reside. But instead of the cute little cartoonish teardrop-shaped piece of skin or whatever the hell it is, I saw an elongated, misshapen blob that was resting on the back of my tongue. And if you think that's gross, imagine how I felt looking at the goddamn thing. I nearly passed out. In fact, I lied down on the bathroom floor momentarily to get my blood back into my head, and then wondered if blood in my head was good for my amorphous uvula. I actually considered taking steps to get blood out of my head. Not a good idea in hindsight, but this is how my affliction affected my thought-process.

So I did what anyone with such a medical condition would do: I went back to sleep in the hope that my condition would be gone when I woke up, or better yet that it was all a horrible dream. So I fell asleep for another 15 minutes, trying to dream my growth away. No dice. It felt like peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth, except in this case the peanut butter was my own flesh. Now, this didn't hurt, not at all. It was simply uncomfortable, and since I have apprehensions anyway about swallowing and my dubious gag reflex (no jokes, fellows!), it became incredibly irritating and somewhat frightening.

Most people might call a doctor for something like this. Since I hate doctors and hospitals, I did the next best thing and got on WebMD. I had remembered what a magnificient resource this had been when I had a bit of a hemorrhoid problem back in March of '03, and I thought, if anyone could help me, it would be WebMD. Double dang-it! The only thing it suggested to me was to get my tonsils out. I had been planning on doing that anyway, but not now, dammit!

Who is better than a doctor to cure this problem? Who? Think, damn you, think! Of course! My little brother, Mike, aka "Beach Justice." No, he is not a doctor, but he did graduate from SUNY Fredonia in 2002 or so and I remembered he had had a similar condition at one time. So I called him on my cellular wireless telephone. It was about 9AM and Mike is accustomed to waking up at ohhh about noon, so I wasn't expecting him to answer. The phone rang 4 or 5 times before I heard the glorious click and timbre of my brother's surprisingly alert voice answering his phone. I asked him to help me. "Please, brother, please!" He replied, "Calm down, my friend, let me walk you through it." In his most scholarly and medicinal voice, Mike gave me the clinical explanation. I've had a bad allergic reaction to some beer. Something about the wheat or the way they process it. Have I had this beer before? No. Did you drink at all last night? Yes, yes! Well there's your answer. Take some allergy medication and give it till day's end. Oh, thank you brother, thank you! TT, the absoulute peach that she is, drove to the store and got me some Benadryl. Though they didn't exactly perform open-heart surgery on me, Mike and TT saved my life.

I shouldn't have driven back to Syracuse after the Benadryl though. Future reference.

3 comments:

vgrid said...

Wacky WallWalker.


"How about something hanging out of the back of your throat that feels like one of those sticky octopus things you used to get out of a vending machine that you would throw against the wall and it would climb down?"

Jay said...

I'm not sure I buy the "allergic reaction" explanation. I used to get the swollen uvela back when I'd drink 10 beers in a night and go to bed drunker than drunk. My throat would get so dry from cottonmouth and no water that this would happen. Time and water, and only time and water, healed the problem. Thankfully it has been 15 years since this happened to me.

Bill said...

This has happened to me a few times since and it has always been after an evening of imbibing. You are probably onto something about alcohol and dehydration being the cause. The swelling did go down though after the benadryl, but that could just be a coincidence.

And thank you for Wacky Wallwalkers, I always wanted to say Creepy Crawlers.