I woke up again, still in darkness, and once more everyone in the house was still sleeping. I still couldn’t talk, but I had enough energy that I could barely move my arms and legs. I had some more wits about me, and I became very bothered about my tongue. It felt so swollen and painful that I had to find out what was wrong right right at that moment. I barely crawled out of my bed and to the bathroom that had a mirror low enough for me to see myself. I lifted my head up the tub’s sliding door mirror and what I saw will always be engrained in my mind. My tongue was shredded on both sides.
I was so shocked at what I saw I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t make enough noise for anyone to hear me. Instead, I crawled out of the bathroom, and to my mother’s closed bedroom door. I started beating the bottom of the door as hard as I could with both my hands and crying out to my mother as loud as I could. At the time, my parents were in the middle of an amicable divorce and my dad was sleeping downstairs in the basement. He had already leased an apartment, but was staying the night because he was moving his furniture out of the house early the next morning. When I realized that no one could hear me, I felt hopeless and it was at that moment that I started to cry.
I don’t think my parents had seen that from in a long time, but I was truly and deeply distressed. However, I kept knocking and knocking. All the while I was lying on the floor crying. I couldn’t lift myself up. My mom finally heard me and I just made noises as loud as I could at that point. In my mind I was screaming as loud as I could, but she could barely hear me. She opened the door and said “What the Hell?” I didn’t expect that initial reaction. I showed her my tongue and my dad rushed up from downstairs and put me back in bed. I felt sick and disgusting with the feeling that I been swallowing my own blood.
My parents should have called the 911, but instead they were in the hallway fighting over what had happened. My mom was trying to convince my father that I had had a seizure. She was a psychology major in college and had worked an internship in a psychiatric ward where she had seen seizures more than a few times. However, my father convinced her that, since no one saw what happened and I appeared to be getting better, we should call our family practitioner as soon as his office opened instead. When we called to the family practice at 8 am that morning and the earliest appointment time available was three days later on August 9th.
At that visit, I described everything that happened: How I couldn’t move, that I had chewed my tongue, how I felt like I had a “bug”, and that my skin had turned a strange yellow/orange color. All I was told was that because no one had seen what took place, he couldn’t determine what it was. His only advice to me was to call him if something else happened again. Now, looking back at how this doctor had behaved over the years, I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that he was unqualified. At the time, however, my family and I were completely ignorant. Now that I am older, I am certain that this doctor should have recognized that I had a seizure almost immediately. He also should have had a copy of my medical record at hand and seen that I had received a vaccine within 48 hours prior to having this episode. Next, he should have called and reported this all to the CDC.