I’ve always been a sick kid. Every school year as a child, I would long to be one of those kids who had perfect attendance, but I knew I could never be one of them. No… I wasn’t in the elite group of perfect-attendees, I was in the Sick Kids Club.
Here I am today: a 24-year-old, freshly graduated, and about to embark to New York City to start her first “big girl job” (and by that I mean unpaid internship). Although I am completely stoked to be starting a new life, I am TERRIFIED that my track record with constantly getting sick is bound to follow me to the Big Apple.
What brought on this post, you may ask?
Well, I am currently sitting on my favorite chair in my apartment in pajamas I have been wearing for over 24 hours. My hair looks like a rat’s nest, my glasses sliding down my sweat-laden nose because I keep getting hot flashes, and my glands are so swollen that my neck is as thick as a line backer’s. I have been sleeping all day and am forcing myself to stay up for a couple hours just so I can get through the night. There are tissues all over my already dirty room that I am attempting to pack up before I move, and water glasses EVERYWHERE since I can never seem to get enough H20. I am forced to remind myself every time I look in the mirror that my skin is not really a light shade of gray normally, nor do I have such awful under-eye circles.
I had a boyfriend in high school who used to joke that since I was so prone to sickness, that my parents must have picked me up from the Used Baby Lot, half price. It was an ongoing joke we had because I would always pick up a cold, cough or flu from a friend, and it wouldn’t last for 24 hours, but 24 days.
So here are a few gems from my past to illustrate the issue at hand.
1. Spinal Tap Number 1: When I was about 2 years old, my mom told me that she woke me up and found that I was a light shade of grey (much like today) and refused to walk. She described me as a “little drunk baby” (much like today) and said that I had been walking for some time and was worried something was wrong. She took me to the emergency room and found that I had some kind of rare virus in my cerebellum, which controls motor functions. So… I got my first spinal tap, at two years old. I eventually got better, but my mom told me that I continued to run around like a little drunk baby for a few more weeks.
2. Cracking my head open at the pool: When I was about three years old, my mom took my brother and I to the Twinsburg city pool. I had learned in my swimming lessons how to dunk my head under water and was excited to show my mom my new “trick.” So I went underwater, came up and cracked my head on the concrete lip of the pool. The ambulance was called and I received my first set of stitches… in my head. Perhaps this is why I’m so messed up in the head? I am literally a “crack head.” Who knew???
3. Discovering I had amblyopia (lazy eye): One of my mom’s many nicknames for me when I was little, was “Boo Boo Baby” because I would always have so many “boo boo” incidents. I suppose it was appropriate at the time to give me such cutesy nickname, but little did my parents know that I would grow up to be a big girl “Boo Boo Baby.” My parents said that when I was little they just thought I had really bad hand/eye coordination, until the day I walked up my to my mom and said, “Mommy, I see two of you.”
And so begins a life with glasses and contacts. On my 24th birthday celebration this past year, one of my contacts fell out right before we went to the bar. Now my lazy eye is not quite as bad as it was years ago, but when I don’t wear contacts or glasses for a few hours, it becomes more pronounced. Throw in alcohol to the mix… and you have one crossed-eyed bitch on your hands! The entire night I walked around the bar screaming to my friends Christina and Jen, “DO MY EYES LOOK CROSSED?!?!?!” We ended up taking several pictures where we intentionally crossed our eyes and I was thankful the next morning when I could return to my straight-eyed (yet hungover) self.
4. Cutting open my finger with a glass jar and tearing a tendon in my hand: My cousin Brooks and I are close in age, as are my cousin Tony and my brother. My parents agreed to watch Brooks and Tony one night when my aunt and uncle had to go somewhere for their oldest son, Ty’s, baseball league. I was beyond excited that my cousins were coming over.
Before they arrived, my brother and I were out catching lightening bugs with glass jars. I’m not sure if any of you did this when you were younger, but I promise you, it is the COOLEST fucking thing to watch a bunch of lightening bugs light up a glass jar when you turn the lights off. And for all you PETA people out there… YES we poked holes in the top of the jars… and eventually let them go.
ANYWAY… when Brooks and Tony arrived in our driveway, I ran toward their car, tripped, and smashed the glass jar all over my left hand. I just remember seeing blood EVERYWHERE, screaming and crying. My mom whisked me to the shower and we washed off my hand and then rushed to the emergency room. I had become quite the frequent visitor of the emergency room in all three years of my existence.
I ended up having to get my tendon re-attached in my left ring finger and something like 13 stitches in the same finger. When you look at the scar it looks something like a Frankenstein project. Sometimes when I hit my hand, my finger goes all numb and I can’t bend it for a few hours. Maybe it’s a sign that I should never wear a wedding ring!
5. Going to the emergency room for a mosquito bite: My mom was one of those intense baseball moms. You know the ones that brought the snacks and had an honorary uniform? Yeah… my mom was one of THOSE moms. So naturally… I got dragged around to all of my brother’s pee wee baseball games growing up. As a small, strange kid with coke-bottle glasses, I usually played in the trees and grass next to the field by myself, often making up some imaginary story that I was lost in the woods to occupy my time.
One hot, July day, I was frolicking through the flowers (probably looking like an idiot) and got a mosquito bite on the back of my calf. I went to the concession stand where my mom volunteered to work for the game (of course) and asked her for some cortisone cream. Within an hour my bite was as big as a softball and I was beginning to get extremely faint and tired.
So naturally… I was dragged to the emergency room where they treated me with an IV and some meds. I had an extremely adverse reaction to this particular mosquito. To this day, I can not be outside in the summer without receiving at LEAST five bites, all which swell up at least to the size of a grape, and if I’m lucky… they will sometimes change colors.
My mom used to tell me that the mosquitos love me because I’m just “too sweet.” Obviously she didn’t know what a crazy person I would turn out to be.
6. My third set of stitches: I was at my friend Jessica’s house when we decided we were going to take our bikes and jump off this wooden ramp her dad had constructed for her and her brother. I should have known better with my past track record, but I just had to try it. Of course the first time I jumped my bike off the ramp, I ended up falling on my bike and slicing the inside of my foot open.
Enter Shannon Allen to the hospital for not her first, NOT second, but THIRD set of stitches. I couldn’t walk for a week and then my grandmother took the stitches out, which (of course) had fused to the skin on my foot and hurt terribly. It’s just my luck.
7. My fake teeth: Oh Jesus… this story almost needs its own blog. Those of you who don’t know me very well, may not know that I have two fake teeth. They are the ones that border my front teeth and were put in when I was 16. I thought I was going to be one of those lucky kids who never had to get braces, until I found out that I didn’t have adult teeth to take the place of my lateral baby teeth (that’s the technical name for the teeth next to your big teeth).
I had only been wearing contacts for about a year when I found out that I was getting braces. Can you imagine how tough it was for an ugly, awkward tween to find out that once she loses her big glasses, she now has to be a brace face?? At least I never had head gear. I had a few friends who had ridiculous head gear, expanders, rubber bands and all that crazy shit.
So get this.. my braces had FAKE TEETH attached to them to hold the place of where my actual dental implants would be in a few years time. After the braces came off, I got a retainer with teeth on it. I was supposed to take my retainer out to eat, but eating lunch with a bunch of missing teeth in a high school cafeteria would have been social suicide. Imagine how embarrassed I was when my mom told my new high school boyfriend about my fake teeth. I was mortified, but luckily he was okay.
When I was 16, I finally got the surgery to put in my dental implants. The first part of dental surgery involves inserting metal rods into the gums, letting the gums heal for 6 months, then attaching and shaping the veneers.
If you don’t have a strong stomach… I STRONGLY suggest you skip to number 8.
So I get to my oral surgeon’s office (ok… get it out… oral surgeon… ha ha ha GROW UP!) and they numb my mouth but choose to keep me awake. Let me remind you that this is a pretty intense surgery with drills and blood and the whole mess. The drill reverberated throughout my skull making me feel like I was having holes drilled in my head… OH WAIT! I WAS having holes drilled in my head.
I thought everything was going fine until my Dr. said, “Oh no! Looks like we don’t have enough bone in your left gum for an implant. Sorry… but it looks like we have to do a bone graft.”
HOORAY! MORE PAIN PLEASE!
So I walked around school the next few weeks with only half my surgery done looking like Queen of the Chipmunks. Not to mention that I would go to cheerleading and show choir practice where I would bounce around and periodically have my gums start bleeding. Fantastic.
When the surgery was finally finished I had to wait yet another six months until they could attach the veneers to the metal implants. OF COURSE something went wrong with the kiln that cooked my teeth and they ended up not only being the wrong color… but the wrong size, making me look like a fucking hillbilly with these strange off-color buck teeth. I was forced to wear those for a week until the correct teeth came in.
When it was time to put the correct teeth in… the dentist took a HAMMER AND CHISEL to the wrong teeth in order to break the “semi-permanent bond” holding them in my mouth. Then the drills came… AGAIN. Jesus… just reliving this moment by typing it out it making me cringe. One of the dental hygienists told me that I was “too sensitive” and to “stop crying.” REALLY LADY!?!?!? STOP CRYING?!?! I JUST HAD A FUCKING HAMMER AND CHISEL IN MY MOUTH NOT TO MENTION A DRILL!!! OH YEAH AND HOW ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU SINGED OFF PART OF MY FUCKING GUM AND NOW IT SMELLS LIKE BURNED FLESH!?!?
If I ever saw that hygienist again… I would punch her in the mouth and hope that SHE had to get dental implants.
Thank god that period of my life is over.
8. The meningitis scare: When I was a senior in high school and about to graduate, I came down with the flu. I was out of school a few days resting and drinking Gatorade when I noticed strange freckles on my legs that weren’t there before. I showed them to my mom and she began to get concerned. We called my aunt who is a nurse and she said that those dots (called Petikia) are a sign of a serious virus.
Let me remind you that this was 2006, and there had been SEVERAL cases of meningitis scares at local high schools and colleges. My mother, knowing by now that what can go wrong with Shannon Allen, WILL go wrong, rushed me to an urgent care. When I got to the urgent care, I was tired and delirious. All I wanted to do was figure out who was voted off American Idol that night and go to sleep. Instead I was hooked up to an IV that contained an agent that I was allergic to and I started to scream because I thought my fucking arm was on FIRE!
Thanks Doctors. You always do right by me.
Then they became concerned that I had meningitis because of my various symptoms.
Here comes spinal tap #2.
I ended up having to be strapped to a gurney and taken to the local children’s hospital where I was forced to wear a mask and stay for two days. Turns out I just had a really strange virus, NOT meningitis.
Really glad I got a second spinal tap…
9. Mono: The summer after my freshman year of college was a tough one: I got dumped by my loser ex boyfriend (turned out to be a great thing), my mom’s cancer came back, and I started working 40 hours at a publishing company where I wrote for 10 local newspapers. So, naturally, I got REALLY sick.
I was so sick that I could barely stand most days. I would almost faint at work, refused to eat most meals, and had lost something like 20 pounds in the matter of a month. I kept going to the doctor and was tested for muscle degenerative diseases, anemia, immune deficiencies, all sorts of shit. I had so many pricks from IVs and blood drawings that I looked like a fucking heroin addict!
At the end of the summer, after I was convinced I was going to die, I found out that the woman working the front desk of our hospital was telling the entire town of Twinsburg that my mother’s cancer had returned and that I was sick with some deadly disease. Oh HIPAA laws… I’m so glad that you exist. This woman obvious did something extremely illegal… yet my bitch-ass doctor sided with her (probably because she didn’t want to lose her practice) and we didn’t press charges.
So my mom and I said a big “FUCK YOU” to that branch of University Hospitals and left the practice. A part of my always regrets not suing the bitch for everything she owned… but the time has passed.
All this for Mono. Geeze…
10. Fainting in the pharmacy line at a Walgreens: Fast forward to sophomore year of college. I got sick with the flu and was up all night throwing up bile because I had literally had nothing to eat because I was so sick. It got to the point where I couldn’t even keep down water, so I called my good friend Tyler and he took me to the emergency room where I got a shot in the butt and some antibiotics.
Waiting in line at Wallgreens around midnight was not fun. I had to fill out paperwork since I had never been to this particular pharmacy before and in the middle of giving them my home address, I hit the floor. Straight up PASSED OUT!
That was fun.
11. The three weeks of looking like Glen Quagmire: Long story short… I had 4 impacted wisdom teeth. I was so swollen after the surgery that I needed steroids. Every morning I would get up and ask my brother, “Do I look better???” and he would just laugh in my face.
He kept telling me I looked like Glen Quagmire… giggity, giggity.
And finally… the most recent Shannon Allen sickness scandal that was NOT at all funny at the time… but is extremely funny now.
12. Food poisoning during a 12 hour work day: My boss took me to a party where the theme was eating strange animals. We ate pig’s tail, goat head and some other strange piece of animal that I can’t remember. Then, to top it off, I tried oysters for the first time.
The next morning my boss didn’t feel so well, but I felt fine. Fast forward two hours when I’m at work… then it hits me.
I worked a 12 hour day where I had to close the store at my first job and then venue manage at my second job. I threw up something like seven times that day and I have NO CLUE how I made it through the day.
I guess I’m just a bad ass…
So there it is people… A small slice into the fucked up world of Shannon Allen’s medical health. Sorry if I induced vomiting to any of my readers… I know my medical history is not pleasant.
Perhaps some day doctors will find some miracle drug to boost my immune system. Until then, I’m going to continue drinking my gallon of Gatorade and medicating myself silly until I fall asleep again.
Until next time… don’t be afraid to let your Lady Business hang out… even if it was picked up half price from the Used Baby Lot!