On the morning of Feb 1st, 2007 I woke up to discover I had 2 tongues. The word "freakish" was invented for just this occasion. My uvula, the little flappy thing that dangles at the back of a person's throat, had grown to freakish size. The bugs, which had been partying in my tonsils (infection) on either side of my throat the preceding night, decided to meet in the middle, at my beloved uvula, for one big blowout super-party. I was in deep sleep and unbeknown to me the raging infection/party caused my uvula to swell and grow and swell and grow. When I awoke and sat up this behemoth of a uvula, which had been laying dormant covertly on the back of my nasal passage disguised as standard run-of-the-mill phlegm, made its ugly presence known.
Reflexively, I swallowed it. It was so elongated that it stretched down into my throat, below my gag reflex. In trying to swallow, my throat was able to catch a healthy grip and give an impressive, albeit painful, tug because it was so far down. Half lucid and not fully prepared to start swallowing parts of my anatomy so early in the morning, I bolted to the sink. After gasping for air and a few vomitous heaves... I managed to cough it up into my mouth. To which my mouth reflexes said, "More phlegm? Swallow!" *Gulp*. I went back and forth in this cycle of cough! swallow! cough! swallow! a few times while I tried to collect my wits. Eventually I managed to control the mouth reflex by treating my uvula like a giant wad of gum, holding it between my tongue and bottom teeth.
At this point it occurred to me that I am now unable to swallow, eat, drink, articulate words, or take medication. I had to concentrate just to keep it up out of my throat at all times. The last thought scared me because I knew I had a date with a fever in about an hour. I had been rotating in and out at regular intervals all week and only medication had been able to break it. But now I couldn't take medicine.
I ran to the upstairs balcony and yelled down to my wife, "Sumthids wahn! Sumthids Wahn! Cah suhb-wuhb thoo wath Thydney" (Something's wrong! Something's wrong! Call someone to watch Sydney). My sister was just the suhb-wuhb we were looking for. She arrived in what seemed like minutes, and Dewdette rushed me to the ER. All the while I focused on keeping my wad of "gum" tucked under my tongue and concentrated on each breath, reminding my body not to swallow because a uvula, it turns out, is attached to every moving part in your throat responsible for ingestion.
I now hold the record for largest uvula admitted into North Fulton Medical Center. Go me. The nurse says, "You don't mind if I show the other nurses, do you?" to which I reply, "Not at all, I'm a social butterfly and love the attention." But of course it comes out, "Nob ab ahh, Ib ah thoboo buhwuhfwuh an wub the athenthuhn." Drool, drool, grin. Realizing my impairment, I nodded my head no-problem style and gave a smile. She exited and quickly returned with a spectator.
It's a lot less dramatic after the oglings. The doc arrived and, after a quick exam, joked about how I reminded him of that guy from Wayne's World. Pardon me if I don't laugh at your jokes, bro, my uvula is the size of Texas. They hooked me up to an IV, gave me a strong antibiotic, and also a steroid to reduce the swelling. A little over an hour later and it had shrunk enough so that it was above my gag reflex (yay). That meant I could choose to flop it in my throat or keep it on my tongue. It was still freakishly long, but not life-threatening. I could eat watery foods, breath, drink, breath, take liquid medicine, cough, clear my throat, breath, interject witticisms, and yes, breath. You know, the good stuff you take for granted most days.
For you twisted folks, I have included my freakshow pictures below. Remember, these are the post-ER, he-is-well-enough-to-go-home-now, road-to-recovery pictures. I was in no frame of mind to take pictures when my life was seemingly in peril. So as ugly as these are... it was much, much worse before I went to the ER.
I don't have any words of wisdom or penetrating questions for you this post. It's more along the lines of "This sucked but I lived and now it's funny. Gawk at my gross pictures."