Like most irish children I started drinking as soon as I became a teenager. Nightclubs in ireland don't tend to have the strictest entry criteria, or at least they didn't back then, an acceptable for of ID was "I'm eighteen, honest" and like almost every teenager I knew - hell, probably every teenager ever, I had my theoretical birthdate memorised because nothing wrecks your credibility quite like "Umm... July thirty first ninteen seventy...six..three...five FIVE!"
Of course, with college I entered new dimensions of possibilities regarding ways to lose control of my bodily functions and to my lasting credit, I tried... um.. one or two of them.
This newer, drunker, faster mr wombat lasted only a few months, not much past rag week (for the americans: something like your spring break - except it would seem, for the bikinis, nudity and unexpected pregnancies... well, bikinis anyway).
In one night I had about a half to a third of a bottle of wine and two beers. Yeah, I was one mad bastard, a bloody animal, out of control. I woke up the next morning with little more than a slightly sore throat.
Unfortunately the sore throat didn't go away and got worse as the week wore on, I visited the campus doctor but I swear to god, if his doctorate wasn't in veterinary medicine then I'm going to be very surprised. Hell, even a vet would have been able to spot what was, by now, screaming across the horizon on a pus powered harley.
The..*ahem* fucking lozenges he "prescribed" me did little except to irritate my throat further and a week after the first tingles of pain I ended up in cavan, visiting the family GP who took one look at me and decided that I was in dire need of hospitalisation. An hour later I was in casualty, clutching a letter saying something along the lines of "This guy will die quite soon if you don't get him a bed, he's dangerously dehydrated having not managed more than a sip of water in days and hasn't eaten in four days"
See, (and it gets a bit gross here folks) what had apparantly happened was that I had managed, somewhere and somehow, to develop (for this is not contagous initially) a condition called quinsy where the lining of the throat becomes badly infected and inflamed, closing the throat and windpipe leaving the sufferer unable to eat or drink without incredible pain. Even if the patient DID manage to get something down the problem was made worse because the food would rip open the infected areas on the way down and dump a good sized lump of septic matter into the stomach which would cause the stomach to rebel and insist on some alone time, food comes back up, ripping more infected area, bile coats the infected area, more incredible pain, more infection, no one is happy, least of all the patient.
So I'm in a bad way and the casualty department is apparantly much busier removing the cast from some figety little bastard child than dealing with the dead man walking and it takes well over three hours for me to get seen.
When I eventually get to see a doctor he prods me for a minute and tells my folks we have to see the ear, nose and throat specialist in dublin.
Cavan to dublin is 65 miles in total, quite a long way as these things go. "But Mr Wombat" I hear the americans cry "65 miles is nothing at all! Why, our cities are easily 1000 miles apart because we like to find sites of incredible geological danger or environments inhospitable to human life and build there" Well, 65 miles is technically not that far, but Ireland's road network was designed by a drunk with an inner ear condition, some of our roads are spirals. There are areas around my home that people do not venture into because they're like a bad episode of the twilight zone, you can pass the same tree fifteen times and never find a way out - to say nothing of the legendary ability of the locals to give directions.
Regardless, the trip to dublin took about two and a half hours because...*sigh* another feature of the irish roads network is the notion that it is somehow advantageous to have the main routes in and out of dublin pass through tiny villages with only one lane of traffic, not one lane either way, one lane in total. One lane for a bajillion fucking vehicles every day - Many times I have been stuck in gridlock on the way home and I can see nothing but fields to either side. All because some brain donor decided that cavan didn't need it's perfectly good train line.
So I get to the hospital in dublin and wait another three hours for the ONLY EAR, NOSE AND THROAT SPECIALIST IN THE CITY to call in and see me. At one point I fell asleep on a spare bed since I was pretty much lacking the energy to stay alive, never mind awake and the staff tried to remove me from the hospital thinking I was a homeless man. Fucking lovely I must say. The specialist arrived, poked me, looked at my throat and said essentially I was pretty much fucked and needed to be in hospital a day or so ago, I was given the choice of returning to cavan to be admitted there or to go to cherry orchard hospital.
Cherry orchard is the centre for contagous disease treatment in ireland folks. They have a slogan which I believe goes "You'll come for the treatment, you'll stay for the ebola". I decided that cavan hospital would be a better bet.
Another two and a half hours later I get back to cavan and back into casualty with a note along the lines of "For the love of god, admit this unfortunate bastard before he croaks and dissolves on your floor"
Three hours in casualty later I get seen by a doctor. Just to recap here, this all started at around nine, so five hours travel in total and I think about three hours per hospital, so nine in total there. It was around one in the morning, which sounds about right to my recollection. The first thing to do was to sort out my dangerous dehydration with a saline drip.
Guess what kids! It turned out that I was allergic to saline fucking drip! How potentially fatal! My lucky day! As you can probably guess by my continued vital signs to this day it wasn't as bad as all that but it sort of screwed things up a bit.
It also seems that I have another interesting factor for doctors to consider when treating me. I have a massive resistance to painkillers and anaesthetic. It's probably some sort of genetic bloody mindedness but the fact is that even to this day, painkillers do squat to me unless they're more commonly used for horses.
So I set about the recovery process as best I could given that one of the nurses looking after really hated me because I beat the hell out of her scumbag bastard son. I unfortunately have a (very well controled these days) fairly violent streak in me and I'm a damned sight stronger than I look, at that stage I could do about 200 situps and 40 chin ups a day - but by nature I carry a few extra pounds which hid it. My uncle could lift a car enough for someone to change the tyre and was still a chunky guy. Anyway, her little walking shit of a son decided to jump me one evening and I beat the crap out of him.
This somehow was enough to warrant some country nursin' style justice and she caused me more than one or two serious pains - ironically enough the painkillers were enough to make me forget about it until the moment to complain had gone.
A few days later I was deemed fit to be discharged, apparantly my bed was needed for some moron who had taken off three fingers while using a band saw drunk. I still could barely walk, eat or drink anything other than lukewarm water, everything I'd eaten had come back up again post haste, so at this stage I'd not gotten any sustenance in well over a week.
Yeah, fit as a fucking fiddle... tickedy fucking boo.
They were generous enough to let me get one more meal into me before kicking me out. Hospital chicken...woo.. figuring that... hell, nothing worse could come of it than the events so far I ate it all down.
Moments later it was time for a visit from Mr gag reflex and, disoriented as I was, I made it to the bathroom once more and emptied my stomach of everything ever eaten since the nettles.
After I finished, I stood there with that "Oh holy christ I think that was a kidney" feeling and felt a tickle at the back of my throat making me cogh.
A couple of coughs later something splatted against the back of the washbasin. It was small, wisened and ultimately very tonsil-ey, the pain in my throat had largely gone on one side at that moment.