January 2010 Issue

The ambulance ride was exciting, although I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t use the siren at all.  The EMT in back  with me whiled away the time by trying to get an IV into my hand, a seemingly simple task he abandoned after the third or fourth stab.

Once in the ER I was swarmed by what seemed like nineteen nurses, probably because they suspected I was having a heart attack.  When, within about five minutes, it became apparent that my heart was just fine, most of them drifted away.  It seemed like a good time to begin projectile vomiting, so I did.

I spent the next two hours doing essentially nothing, as far as I recall, but then again my short-term memory was fading in and out rather alarmingly.  The torpid doctor who eventually appeared wasn’t even interested in using his stethoscope on me.  He seemed to think food poisoning was a likely explanation and the clams a likely culprit.  Since Doctor Shrug didn’t have any really constructive suggestions, we went home.

Then things got very weird.  For the next three days I couldn’t really eat much of anything, spent most of my time in bed or in the bathroom, and had truly awful dreams, not all of them when I was, strictly speaking, asleep. I am told that much of what I said during this period made even less sense than it normally does.  I also couldn’t breathe very well; something was affecting the muscles in my chest. My legs, feet and face were partially numb, but it was difficult to tell whether that was due to whatever had happened to me or to my multiple sclerosis.

Eventually, as I regained my alimentary and mental footing, I Googled my symptoms and came across several case studies that matched my experience precisely.  I seem to have had neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, wherein my little bivalve pals had accumulated a bunch of nasty algae from a “red tide”  and converted it into a neurotoxin that can’t be destroyed by cooking. There seems to be a rash of this contamination going on in US coastal waters at the moment.  It wasn’t really HTB’s fault, but I don’t plan to go back there anytime soon.

So there you go — the clams ate my homework, and this is actually the December issue that never was.  As usual, there are a few anachronisms buried in this batch because these columns were first published in newspapers (and sent to subscribers) last summer.

Subscribers, incidentally, have been receiving my columns by email throughout this ordeal, because I have a weird thing about deadlines and long ago learned to type whilst fully recumbent and hallucinating.  I still haven’t received the bill from the hospital, which is likely to be hefty, since I am on Medicare (per Social Security Disability Insurance) and Ohio law prohibits people in my situation from buying supplemental insurance until we hit 65.  (Apparently, the hope is that we’ll die of whatever ails us before we become a burden on poor little Aetna.)  So if anyone out there has a few spare doubloons, I humbly beseech you to subscribe.

Lastly, my cranky rant about Facebook last month garnered some very sensible comments in defense of the Great Gray Time Sink, and I am duly chastened. Using it to keep in touch with your family and friends is entirely reasonable. But Facebook’s recent revision of its privacy policies is very disturbing, and I strongly suggest that you read up on what Facebook isn’t telling you.

And now, I see Ms. Freedle has finally managed to get our stage lights to work, so on with the show

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