This is the fifth post in my ‘What happens when…’ series. This series is running every Wednesday on Inside Laura’s Head for as long as I have posts. The series will be written by me, and also by guest posters. Posts can be on anything as long as they fit the ‘What happens when…’ title. If you have an idea and would like to guest post on Inside Laura’s Head, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org – all ideas are welcomed. Look out for more ‘What happens when…’ posts on Inside Laura’s Head.
Meet this week’s Guest Poster!
What happens when…you take your first sip of water in three years.
Honestly, I was disappointed – it didn’t taste like anything.
Okay, I will admit that to feel that ice cold rush of liquid down my parched throat – left dry as a desert for day after uncertain day – was extremely refreshing. But even the biggest Las Vegas-style buffet could not have appeased my insatiable hunger at that point.
I was your typical well-fed Jewish girl, partial to Chinese food and non-alcoholic Shirley Temples. Nowhere in my teenage view could I ever had anticipated a coma right before my senior prom, and months later, being awoken by doctors who solemnly shook their heads and shrugged as they said “you can’t eat or drink right now. And we don’t know when…or if…you’ll ever be able to again.”
What the heck do you say to that?
I was starving for some kind of oral stimulation, and the glycerine swabs the nurses would give me were just not doing the trick. .Even though it was torture, I’d make whoever came in to check on me also tell me what they drank with breakfast that morning. Every straw I passed, pleasantly reclined in a cool shiny glass of Pepsi, made my lips tremble. Every plastic bottle of Poland Spring firmly clenched in a visitor’s hands felt like a glamorous magazine ad of a model flaunting the finest diamond necklace. I saw every slurp from a hospital Styrofoam cup in glorified slow motion, like a hair model tossing her hair in the wind and the extravagant symphony of strings playing in the background.
What I came to find is, the more you can’t have something, the more you become obsessed with. In the Child Life department of the hospital, all the kids who couldn’t eat were always the ones who wanted to play in the toy kitchen. It was too hard to shut out drinks from my mind even in the hospital, so I had no choice but to became fixated on it. The first day I was allowed outside in the hospital garden, I insisted on standing right by the sprinklers.
Of course, coming out of the hospital was even more difficult. I became obsessed with the forbidden world of water even more. I would spend hours playing with my sink. I amassed a secret collection of every possible drink container – flasks, baby bottles, pitchers – and I’d spend the night just pouring liquid from one vessel to the next, imagining how that cool, crisp, clear water would finally feel down my throat. I even tried to talk my mother into purchasing one of those water playtime tables for toddlers – but she insisted that at 20 years old, I might be a bit…old….for that.
Of course, I didn’t expect hunger to ever be something I’d be so familiar with as a well-fed Jewish girl. But then again, I didn’t expect my life – free of any medical problems whatsoever – to suddenly be rerouted when two weeks before my high school senior prom, my stomach exploded due to a blood clot – all I remember is being in intense pain during that day.
What followed were a few more surgeries (which would make a total of 27 at this point), various medical interventions, and the feeling of total alienation from any kind of “normal life” or “real world.” I held on day after day, even making fake countdowns in my head, believing that one day I would drink, and it would happen.
And on my 21st birthday, I did have my first drink of liquid! After a barium swallow proved that things were flowing to the right places, I was allotted two whole ounces of water.
So…with the tiniest straw I could find, I poured that crystal-clar liquid into a small shot glass. This was the moment I was waiting for. What would happen? Would I choke? Did I still remember how to swallow? And worse, what if that two ounces made me thirstier and I wanted more? The doctors wanted to be very cautious when startng out, but what if the water made my hunger even more insatiable?
I took a sip. It was major let down. I really wanted flavor.
But it was a step in the right direction.
Now I’ve just had my 28th birthday, and to celebrate, my fiancé and I gorged ourselves on hot dogs and chicken tenders at Yankee stadium. I’m happy, healthy and hungry as ever now. Like everyone else, I sometimes forget how hard life was when I had to take it day by day, wondering if I’d ever drink again. But I always come back to remembering how very grateful I am, how blessed I feel, and how TASTY food and drink can be!
But I’ll never forget what it was like that very first time…
Wow! What a story, eh? Amy’s story is fascinating and I’d really recommend reading her blog to find out more about her. What an interesting lady. What do you think?
Amy has advised me that there’s a documentry about her, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4E8g3r6uD8.