Have you ever tripped? Taken shrooms? Had a tab of LSD? I haven’t because I’m afraid of what creatures lurk in my shadows. But into my fourth sleepless, feverish night of mono, I might as well have taken a spaceship to Mars.
For most of Sunday, I could not speak. If you had asked me a question, my response would appear on your computer screen. Then, at about 5 p.m. my throat closed up. I could barely drink water or chew ice. I tried broth, but that was too thick. Ice cream was out of the question. So I forced down some Advil and antibiotics and sat down.
I woke at about 9 p.m. Did I feel any better? Nope. I still couldn’t drink, still had a fever and damn, the room was stuffy. I stumbled into the bathroom, turned off the lights and stared into the mirror. With the thermometer wiggling around as I try to multitask, I see green flashing lasers.
They buzzed around me, dancing in figure eights perfectly choreographed in spellbinding conformity. I’m petrified or transfixed. I can hear their tones, something like a nearby wasp, only sweeter.
As suddenly as they came, they went. I splashed cold water on my face, gagged as I attempted more water and went back to bed. NyQuil should help, right?
It’s now 11 p.m. and my sleep aid hasn’t even soothed my alertness. There has to be something to soothe my throat that could get me to start drinking more water. To power through the night, I hop into the shower. Lights off, alone with white noise — at least for the first five minutes.
“Brian, please don’t come back and see me,” someone says to me in French. “Please, I’m not nearly ready to see you. I have to fix up the house!”
“Don’t you worry, Matonette,” I respond, somehow remembering my late, great aunt’s voice. “I have to shower and shave.”
Then the voice stops responding. I stay in the shower for another 40 minutes. Instead of going back to bed, I sit in the steamy room, breathing deeply, searching for any relief.
“You’re not going to wear that, right?” she asks me, her voice sounding like an echo, her relaxed shadow sitting perfectly poised on the sink. “Please, I know your mother has bought you better clothes than that.”
I laugh very loudly at my great aunt. “Matonette, just give me a chance! Would you rather me rush through tonight and come looking like a mess?”
She’s gone again. So I leave the bathroom, perfectly content with the exchange. “Wow!” I thought to myself. “I retained so much French!” I still haven’t realized how badly I need emergency treatment.
It’s now 2 a.m. and I am in my bed, curled up so tight that it’s even harder to breathe. I’m not sweating anymore at this point, but my fever has hit 103.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Matonette? Have you ever felt this sick?” I ask.
“Yes,” she sighs. “It’s why I’m in my new house. Are you coming to visit me soon?”
The words, “I hope to,” slip form my lips as I get back up to go to the bathroom. I need cold. I need cold. I need relief.
The bathroom floor has cooled down at this point. I make a nest with towels and my clothes and call the space between the sink and the shower my home. I start to rock back and forth.
“Abuela Monina,” I see my late great-grandmother. “Should I go see Matonette?”
She is writhing next to me, groaning like I am, feeling the pain I feel. How can I help her? Do I bring her to the hospital?
“No,” she says firmly, her toothless gums chattering. She’s wrapped in snakes. Her arm reaches for me, but it is snatched back by something large. “Get out. Get out when you can. Get out now!”
Then I finally freak out, heart racing, head pounding and no direction to run. My phone? My phone! Get me away from this.
I call my friend and tell her I need to go to the emergency room. My phone looks like a seashell. Where is normal? Where is reality?
I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take this anymore. In three days I have only gotten sicker. She tells me to hold tight and that she’s on her way. It’s 3:30 a.m. and I still think what I’m seeing is real.
I’m as far away from my room and the bathroom as I can be. I love you Abuela and Matonette, but I can’t talk to you. Not just yet.
I received treatment that night and walked out of the hospital at 4 p.m. the same day. I still don’t like going into my bathroom, but then again, this was only Sunday.
Brian Latimer is the Editorial Page Editor and a junior at Boston University studeying History; Journalism; and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.