If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can do it here. Otherwise, read on!
So, here we are, about to kick my feet in the ass. But before my doctor administers the shot, he checks my chart to see if I have any bizarre ailments or allergies that he ought to know about first. Turns out, I do. I have malignant hyperthermia. The name is misleading because it sounds like I have some sort of cancer that makes me really cold. But what it means is, I am allergic to general anesthetics (the kind you breathe in.)
How do I know this? Because one winter, when I was seven, I licked a drainpipe and my tongue froze to it. I won’t go into why I did this, because, by now, that’s probably fairly obvious. My friend was delighted, so rather than assisting me in removing my tongue from said drainpipe, she ran inside for a camera. I became terrified by the consequences of this picture getting around. So, I just pulled with all my might and ripped my tongue away from the pipe. It was pretty gross. I got an infection. And for the following two years, I had all these lovely cold sores and blisters in and around my mouth.
Sorry. You thought you were only going to have to hear about my disgusting feet. Then I spring this shit on you.
So, finally my doctor was like “OK. This is just nasty. Remove the end of her tongue.” And I went to the hospital and they did this like 10-minute operation on me to take off the tip of my mangled infected tongue. I had a hard time waking up after the operation. The nurses kept slapping me. My parents were all, “Jesus, Genevieve. Stop being so dramatic.” And I was all, “So THIS is what The Boy Who Cried Wolf was trying to teach me.” Somebody got me dressed. Somebody loaded me into the back seat of the car. And somebody drove me home while I prayed for God to kill me and end this pain. And then I got inside and went pee and it was bright red, but not blood, and my parents completely fuh-reaked out and took me to the emergency room.
On the ride to the hospital, my mom was all “It’ll be fine. If it wasn’t, you know I’d be crying.” And they rushed me into a room and examined me and then took my parents out to the hall to explain what was going on (simplest explanation I can think of: my body was all “Anesthesia bad. Begin melting all muscle tissues.”) My mother came back in the room sobbing, so I promptly fuh-reaked out. If I hadn’t been in so much pain, it would have been all my dreams come true.
And then the doctor came in with a big pitcher of water and was all “You have to drink as much of this special medicine as you can. It’s going to make you have to pee so so so bad. And almost instantly. But it’ll help you feel better.” So I drank it and started peeing like a mofo and lived and finally got that jean purse with the plaid patches from Kmart. Thank GOD for placebos, right?
And now whenever I visit my parents and I see that doctor around town, she comes up to me and starts crying and says, “OH! You’re so robust!”
For a while I wore a medic alert bracelet about it, but I eventually stopped because I became so tired of explaining how I was allergic to anesthesia, and how I found that out because I needed an operation, and that I needed an operation because I was a dumbass who stuck her tongue to a pipe in a ditch. And yes, you can look at the tip of my tongue. I developed a healthy coping mechanism of denial. I mean, what’s the likelihood that anything will happen to me where I will require emergency surgery and be unable to tell medical personnel not to kill me with anesthesia? Slim, right?
The only time it’s been any sort of issue was 1) that one measly time I almost died, and 2) when I had my kids. Both times I was in the hospital for their births, doctors from ALL over the hospital would come in to meet me — doctors who had nothing to do with the birth of my children in any way. They would walk in and say “Are you the girl who has malignant hyperthermia?” And I was all, “Yes. Can you teach me how to nurse this baby?” And they were all “Wow. Did you know that’s really rare? I’ve never met anyone who’s had it. And I’ve always wanted to. Can I have your autograph?” And I’d be all “Listen weirdo, just help me understand how to feed my baby before he starves” And they were all “So, tell me the story of how you…” And I was all, “Who the hell are you? If you can’t help me get my huge boob in this baby’s tiny mouth then you are useless to me. Get the hell out!” And eventually they’d leave.
So, when I told my podiatrist (Ah, here we are! Back to the point!) that I had malignant hyperthermia and he responded “Wow. That’s really rare.” I sighed and said, “Yes. I know.” And he said, “Let me just call an anesthesiologist before I do this. I want to be 100% sure this is safe. You’re lucky you survived your operation. Only 1 in 4 people who have a reaction survive.” And then he left. Simple. To the point. No probing questions. Just a big scary fact.
I definitely have this allergy which means there’s a 50/50 chance my kids have it. So I sat there staring at Henry flinging his goldfish on the ground and screeching at me to release him from his stroller thinking seriously about this for the first time 1 in 4. 1 in 4. 1 in 4? Perhaps it’s time rethink this denial thing.
Thanks Dr. Podiatrist — for not writing politically correct insults about me on a giant screen, for being nice to your staff, for having milky white skin, for punishing my evil feet, and for making me a little less stupid.