All the Gory Details.

If you have not yet done so, please read my prior entry titled "That Burning Ring of Fire".

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The good news is I do not believe I did any permanent damage (like a herniated esophagus) two nights ago. Today I feel no more pain or pressure unless I start to laugh or cough, and was indeed able to eat solid food last night. We had pancakes (not just for breakfast anymore), which are pretty soft, but also pretty "pasty", so they went down with a lot of milk... They made it down without a hitch... It still hurts when I laugh, so I think I may have stressed my rib cage from the prolonged, yet useless attempts at vomiting, but that is a yet an untold story. So, without further ado, let me tell you about the evening I spent in "Hell on Earth"...

Be warned, there are some graphic descriptions of bodily functions... Continue at your own risk...

On Tuesday, after work, I had a few hours to "kill". I had talked to Michele, and (because I was already up in the metro area) I was going to shop for some specific Christmas gifts that we have not yet been able to find. I was not far from the Mall of America, so (for the first time in about a year) I decided to look for the gifts there. I had stopped into two different stores looking for the items, but neither had any left in stock. I started wandering that behemoth of a mall, stopping in a couple of other stores trying to locate an "alternative" gift idea. I knew I would not be home until 10 PM, so I decided that I was going to stop and get a bite to eat.

Before I go on any further, I need to fill you in on a couple of other little tidbits. Back (before I was married) when I lived in Mankato, and worked at "Minnesota Warehouse Furniture", I worked with a guy who liked to get lunch from "Long John Silver's". Long John Silver's (hereafter refereed to as LJS) is a fast-food seafood place. We used to get it about once a week, and I got to quite like it. When we moved away from Mankato and back to the metro area, I lost access to LJS, as there was none in the area that I lived. Only once in the next five years did we make it back to Mankato, and while in Mankato we did stop at LJS for lunch. It did taste good, but it was much less impressive than I remembered. By the end of the meal, I did not feel well, and thought that it would be my last visit LJS. Fast forward five years, while visiting my sister, and my sister-in-law, in Dallas Texas, I foun d a LJS, and insisted we have lunch there. Again, the food tasted good, but not as good as I remembered it from last time (which you may remember, was not as good as the time before that - So, let's say the food was "ok"...) I ate way too much, and got "hung up", so I told myself and my wife that I just had my last LJS meal. Fast forward another five years, and you will find me shopping for a Christmas Gift at the Mall of America on 12-12-06...

As I walked around the Mall, I remembered that a LJS had opened in one of the food courts. Seeing as I was alone, and hungry, and the last LJS's experience was five years behind me, I decided that it was time to give LJS another chance.

I spent an unusually long time trying to decided what to have. I like their "fish plank", and LOVE their clams, I do not care for the chicken, and could not care less about the fries. The cole slaw is pretty good, and of course I like a bite or two of the "hush puppies" that they give out with each meal, (but never eat both of them). After much debate, and keeping in mind that I have been trying to eat a little healthier, I decided on the clam plate and pass on the "add-on" plank of fish.

I ate, without issue, but did notice about half way thru my meal that I had not yet touched my beverage. This could cause a problem, but since it had not yet, I was not too worried about it (the food is greasy enough). I did have a few sips at this point, but continued finishing my dinner. I was now getting that feeling of having eaten too much, yet I had not eaten all that much (nor had I drank much beverage). The "volume" of what I had eaten was not all that great, and so decided that it was time to be finished. I started feeling unusually "warm". I took my tray to the trash and threw it in, keeping the beverage with me to finish. I had taken another two sips before I started feeling seriously ill, like I had eaten WAY too much. I felt like I was going to vomit. I tossed the beverage in the trash (knowing that I would never be able to finish it anyway) and started walking around the Mall, thinking that a walk would do me some good (exercise, and settling my dinner).

As I walked I could feel my esophagus start to contract and within minutes, I was in a full blown Shatzki's Ring attack (only this time I had not felt the ring start to close up, and I had an esophagus full of pasty greasy clams, french fries, and a hush puppy. Within minutes the pain was so excruciating, I could not even walk. I found a bench to sit at for a couple of minutes. People were looking at me as they walked by as if they could tell something was wrong. After a few minutes, I got up and walked as far as I could to another bench, and had to sit down before I collapsed. I hop-scotched my way around the Mall like this until I got to the other food court. There I sat at a table, and tried to relax. By this time I could hardly stand the pain. I decided I was going to try and push whatever blockage was in the way down with water (like I usually do). I got up, and tried to drink some water, but that got me no where. I could not get the water down, and the waves of pain, and the heat I was feeling was quite frankly - overwhelming. STRIKE ONE.

I stepped into the restroom to wash my face, and in the mirror starring back at me was the most pasty white, sweaty thing I had ever seen. It was no wonder people were looking at me. I looked ill. I went back out and found a quiet table to sit down at, which I did. As I sat and tried to relax the waves of pain kept coming, and kept getting stronger. I at one point (while not actually crying) had tears welling up in my eyes from the pain. I noticed a Mall Housekeeping employee watching me as he was cleaning tables. He was quite a few tables away from me, but kept watching me as he cleaned his table. Fearful this guy would talk to me, or worse yet, call security, the police and an ambulance, I got up to try the water trick again... STRIKE TWO.

I again returned to the table, and tried to relax as the waves of now crushing pain came and went. The housekeeping guy was now much closer, and still looking at me like there was something wrong. He kept washing tables closer and closer, and looked like he wanted to ask me something, but I just kept putting my head down. Within a few minutes, this guy was right next to me, cleaning a table and garbage can next to my table. He was washing the table behind him, facing me as he did so. I was now in so much pain, sweating like a banshee, and had this guy creeping me out. One more attempt at the water trick... STRIKE THREE.

I was outta there. This was going from bad to worse, and very quickly. Now I have debilitating waves of pain, sweat pouring down my face, a pasty white complexion, and now an esophagus full of food, and water that wanted to "evacuate" itself (if you know what I mean). I was not about to vomit at the Mall of America in front of God and everyone, so I decided I was going to (as quickly as I could) make my way to my car, and then try and lay the seat back and relax a bit. This way, I could vomit out into the parking lot, and not have so many people around, nor would it be a difficult "clean up".

As I made it around the mall (bench to bench), I started having to "spit" into garbage cans. My mouth was producing copious amounts of saliva (in an attempt to try and lubricate whatever was blocking my esophagus - this is a frequent occurrence during a Shatzki's Ring attack), but there was no room for it to go. My mouth was filling with saliva, so I had to keep getting rid of it. I tried to only use garage cans that were not in direct site of people. As I made it to the entrance, I was sure I would not make it to my car before vomiting, but that would be ok because (at least) I was now out in the parking ramp. As I made it to my car, I was in desperate need to just lay down and relax. I walked to my car, and did not notice the vehicle slowly following behind me. When I reached my car, and climbed in I noticed the guy with the blinker on waiting for me to pull out of my parking spot. This was not the stress I need ed at this point, so rather than just sit in my car, I would pull out, and go find an empty parking lot to vomit in, and then try to relax.

As I drove thru the parking ramp at the Mall, I have never been so close to vomiting. I actually at one point was grasping at my throat in an attempt to keep from vomiting in the car. I got stuck at the signal to exit the Mall of America property, but finally made the turn to Killebrew Drive, and got into the left turn to go NB on 24th. It was here that holding back my own esophagus of bile started to overtake me. I could now taste it, and was actually making gagging noises. Worse yet, when the light should have turned green, it did not because MTC's Light Rail Train crossed the intersection. The train caused the signals to go back and reopen opposite traffic patterns, and keeping me sitting at my red light. After the first train passed, just before the light turned green for me, another train (going back from where the first train came from) entered the intersection, causing another light cycle to be missed a second time.

When I finally made the turn, it struck me that the pressure from holding back vomit was actually stronger than pain caused by my esophagus contracting, and that is not an easy feat... let me tell you. I make my way into the abandoned "Kelly" parking lot, pulled up to a patch of overgrown weeds that have come up thru the pavement, opened the car door, leaned over, and.... made some useless dry heaving sounds. Nothing. I try again, and again, and again... Over and over... Nothing coming up. Oh, it's still all there, I can feel it.. But nothing is making a hasty exit. I try and relax for a few minutes, and go back to the ol' dry-heaves. Still nothing. Thinking perhaps the blockage made it past the Shatzki's Ring, I take a sip of soda, and... feel that bubbling in my esophagus - not going anywhere... With new fluids in my throat, I start to think that I can now "prime the vomiting pump" and try again... and a gain... and again... Nothing.

Now I start to worry about Mall Security (who patrol this parking lot) or the Bloomington Police (who also patrol this lot) may be showing up at anytime now. God knows - for reasons that some of my readers will understand, and others will not - I DID NOT want a Bloomington Police Officer to come out here and watch me vomit... That would just be too "over the top". If you don't understand why, do not bother asking... Just aint' gonna go there....

Feeling the pressure of MOA Security and the Police, I decided to make an exit from this lot, find another and continue the task at hand. I left the Kelly lot, heading east. The road I was driving on turned into the entrance to the 28th Ave LRT Station. Again, knowing what I know about this parking lot, I decided that this lot (Patrolled by the Bloomington Police, and the Metropolitan Transit Police) was another place to NOT try vomiting. I made my way back out of the LRT lot. As you exit the LRT lot, there is a signal light. I am stopped at the red light (waiting for it to turn green), when I hear the familiar ding-ding-ding sounds of the rail crossing arms drop down. The red light I am sitting at does not turn green, and now I can see the LRT coming down the tracks. After only one missed red light cycle, I was back on my way. Driving back down past the Kelly lot, not knowing where to g o next, and having that "vomits" pressure in my throat, I decided to pull back into the Kelly lot. I went back to "my" spot, and went thru the whole process again... (Door, lean, wretch, lean, wretch, lean, wretch). I had more than I could take by this point, and so I tried the old reliable "finger down the back of your throat" trick. (Warning.. here's where it will get icky). Over and over, I gagged myself. My stomach, diaphragm, rib cage, and esophagus all ached, but I was still not getting anything up. Over, and over, again, and again until finally I started choking up (not vomiting) bile. It was my esophagus full of my own saliva, with a dash of other bits sprinkled in. I kept at this until nothing more came up (about a dozen tries), and decided now was the time to make a hasty retreat.

If you are not familiar with this area, see the link "The Scene of the Crime" on the bottom of this post.

I was feeling a little better, but drained. I was so exhausted, and sweaty, and hot - then cold - then hot again. I drove away from the Mall, aimlessly not knowing where to go next. I knew I needed to stretch the seat out, lay down, and relax a bit - but I needed somewhere I could do this. I took another sip of soda, and could feel that the pop was either sitting in, or only just barley draining from my esophagus. I found my way to the parking lot where I work, pulled in behind a large trailer, laid the seat back and laid there relaxing. I could actually feel the Shatzki's Ring starting to relax a bit, and because there was nothing left in the esophagus, the pain was now significantly reduced. After an hour I again tried a drink of soda. Feeling pretty good that the soda was (at least) slowing passing the Shatzki's Ring, I headed out to pick up my son.

After picking him up, and taking him home, I made my way home. I still just felt terrible, and was hoping that a night's sleep would relax me enough that I would awake feeling much better in the morning.

Wendsday morning, I was still feeling tightness and a slight discomfort in the sternum area, so I decided I was not going to eat at all that day. Honestly, I was afraid to. I had one can of Mountain Dew, and I was so cautious with that, it took me 8 hours to drink it.

By dinner time Wednsday night, I was so hungry that I was going to attempt trying some soft foods for dinner. My wife had planned pancakes. I very carefully tried just one with lots of milk, and when that one went down, I had another. It appeared that my esophagus was now back open again.

It was not really until 2 AM Thursday morning (when I had to get up for work) that I really felt like things were back to normal. Oh, yes - it still hurts a little bit when I laugh, or cough, but I'll call it a 95% recovery so far, and that - I am happy with.

From the time I sat down to eat (when this whole debacle started on Tuesday night), until the time I felt it was not affecting me anymore (Thursday morning) made for a 33 hour ordeal. Of those 33 hours, I would say I felt the effects of this for 27 hours, and of the 27 hours of feeling effects, about 3 hours were completely horrific - with the remaining 24 spent in discomfort, feeling anxiety and fear.)

I am making this vow to myself, to my wife and family, to you (my faithful readers), and to the rest of the world (any casual one-time readers). Even though I do not blame Long John Silver's food for doing this to me, and even though I give the food an "o.k." rating (and I am sure sometime in the next 5 years, I'll get a "craving")...

I WILL NEVER, EVER, EAT AT LONG JOHN SILVER'S AGAIN.

Now... Since this ordeal is all over, and documented... I can get past it...
Thanks for listening!

David.

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"The scene of the crime"

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