about a week before may the 12th, i got a headache. in Big Lots. suddenly, i was inexplicably and uncharacteristically craving chocolate covered almonds, which i was told made perfect sense due to caffeine’s effectiveness against headaches. following advice, i bought some discount-priced ibuprofen (Big Lots is CHEAP!), along with a Snickers and a Dr. Pepper. done. headache gone. fast forward.
i’m an artist. songwriting. arranging. music production. painting. screenwriting. prose. i’m also a tenant. rent. utilities. groceries. etc. and when royalties decline, so does my ability as an artist to also be a tenant. solution: the sandwich shop around the corner. i’m kicking butt, taking names, and making competitively priced coffee drinks (but did you know your $4 is only getting you a mouthwash dosage’s worth of espresso, combined with a bathroom cup’s worth of aerated milk?). on the 12th, around the middle of the work day, my eye began to hurt. i hadn’t slept much in 3 days, and i was looking forward to the following two days off…just me, my bed, and the dark. but at 3:00, the pain stinging my left eye had increased. behind my eye. and it was worsening, seemingly by the minute. i ate my free sandwich shop lunch (which was delicious as always, thanks to our Top Chef Season 5 culinary helmer, the soup genius Alex E.). by the end of my meal, i was desperate for a nap. at home, i wrapped the covers around myself and set sail for Sleep Island. an hour later, i woke up with more severe pain. in the shower, suddenly my nose began pouring snot. for no apparent reason. it pelted around my feet as if el nino had found its way into my sinuses. what was happening?
it was bad timing. why? because of Sneakers and his busy schedule. he’s my piggie. my guinea pig. my main man. my best buddy. my family. just like his two girlfriends, Pumba and Milly. they’re the coolest. the chicks live together. and Sneakers, being a herd animal, needed a new pal, in lieu of the heartbreaking loss of his previous best friend, sweet SWEET Schroeder. across town, in Hollywood, awaited Emily. and her baby boy piggie, who was in foster care and waiting to find his “forever home.” Sneakers and i had a playdate at 7:30: Sneaks would hang out with the little boy and see if they might like to live together. this meeting had been weeks in the making. and so i got out of the shower and took 800 milligrams of Big Lots relief. on the way to Emily’s apartment, i wondered if i should be driving, given the severe pain that was causing me to wince. i stopped off and bought two dr. peppers, and four chocolate bars. i don’t even like chocolate, but i was desperate. i parked my car and called Emily, whom i had NEVER MET. “i feel like i should warn you…i have a very, very bad pain behind my eye. a bad headache. if i act weird, please just know that it’s only from this unexpected pain. i ate a bunch of chocolate and took ibuprofen. i’ll probably be better soon.” WRONG. poor Emily. she expected a cute and cuddly piggie pairing. instead, she ended up with a medical emergency, laid out face down on her kitchen floor, just one step away from foaming at the mouth. she gave me water and 400 more milligrams. i gave her a reason to get me out of there before she faced a chalk outline marring the moderate-quality linoleum just below her sink. i hastily dropped off Sneakers and his new pal at my apartment. no time to take them out of the pet carrier. at this point, i was in full 911 mode, and i took off toward the emergency room, hoping i could keep from crashing my Grand Marquis.
minutes later i pulled into the hospital parking lot, got out of the car, and immediately puked my guts out in the bushes. bye bye, sandwich shop lunch. and four candy bars. and thanksgiving 1983. and everything in between. oh, and my left eye: at this point, i felt as if someone was stabbing me in the back of the eyeball with an ice pick. and i REALLY needed them to FREAKING STOP. NOW. RIGHT NOW. i communicated this to the lady at the ER window–and the nurse who checked my vitals, and anyone else who would listen–in no uncertain terms. 10 minutes later, i’m getting a catscan. all the way back to my room, i’m continuing to stomp my feet and pound walls and other surfaces, DEMANDING IMMEDIATE medication to take away the pain. it’s either that, or i run out into traffic and stop the pain with a Buick. and so i was yelling. pounding. stomping. kicking. STOP IT NOW!!!!! then comes the Dilaudid, compliments of my first-ever shot in the butt. Dilaudid: the new generation of morphine. Dilaudid: it doesn’t stop my pain. however, it lessens it and makes me tired. enter hospitalization. now i’m in a semi-private room. 30 minutes later, i’m in a room on the 7th floor. why? because the catscan results are in: “mr. haynes you have a tumor or an aneurysm in your brain.” “INSIDE my brain? are you SURE????” “yes. we’re sure. INSIDE.” at this point, i just want to be at home, but i’m stuck in the hospital. my 1.2 centimeter mass just wants to grow big and strong, but it’s stuck in my brain. and Sneakers just wants to hang out in the penthouse suite of his piggie mansion, but he’s stuck in a pet carrier with this kid he just met. none of us are where we would like to be. but the future is going to move us all.