Health bits: Doctor office horrors

Aloe Vera couldn’t help this burn
Bethel Bits

I sat on the sticky leather seat in the back of an old mom van with my good friend at the time, Sarah. As we were coming back from her family’s cabin, I watched the sun go to sleep while the sky turned a mesmerizing pink, orange and purple. We had been swimming in the lake all day long, and I had not put a drop of sunscreen on my fair white skin. Not even once.

I felt my skin begin to ache. I looked at my arms and legs as they began to grow a deep red. I found a water bottle dripping with condensation on the floor in front of me, and I began rolling it around my legs and arms to take away the pain and cool my sunburned skin.

When I got home, my parents freaked as soon as they saw me and immediately coated me in a bath of aloe vera. But I went to bed that night unknowingly the next day would be a living hell for 8-year-old me.

My skin on the rest of my body was fine, but my shoulders turned burgundy as the pain and the heat settled in even deeper. It was becoming so painful that I couldn’t lift my little arms above my blonde head anymore.

I went to dinner that night with my parents and my grandpa at Hazellewood in Excelsior, but this sunburn began to make me shiver horrendously and make me become extremely nauseous. I barely touched my hot fudge sundae that my parents ordered in hopes to make me feel better.

I got home and immediately threw up the sundae (may I mention I’m always reminded of that experience whenever I eat one to this day). I ripped off my shirt. The pain had become unbearable. One giant blister had formed along with many others all over my shoulders. I sobbed while I stood hopelessly in the doorway of my childhood bedroom.

My parents gave me another winter-coats-worth of aloe vera, and then I was off to bed. The sticky consistency of the aloe vera warmed up from my hot skin, and the pain continued to worsen. I couldn’t sleep on my back, stomach or sides. So sitting up was my only option. My parents found me sound asleep while clutching onto my favorite blue bear stuffed animal and sitting hunched over in the middle of my canopy bed the next morning.  I endured a couple more days of this horrible pain as blisters began to grow bigger before my parents finally took me to Urgent Care.  

20170210_holmberg_mugshots_shaw_3Vividly, I remember screaming bloody murder when the nurse asked me to take my shirt off so she could put this ointment on my sunburned skin. After ten minutes of my mom and the nurses convincing me it would make my skin feel better, I took it off. I was desperate.

When they covered my poor shoulders in this cold, white goop I sighed in relief. My pain was immediately taken away and this living hell partying on my shoulders was finally over.

After my sunburn healed, all the blisters left tiny freckles everywhere. To this day I always wear sunscreen or a sleeved shirt. I never plan on going through that experience ever again.

—Bri Shaw

Fainting in AP Bio

Waking up on the lap of one of my best pals may not seem like the worst thing in the world, except when it takes place in front of my entire AP biology classroom and occurred because of fainting. After the fainting episode, I mumbled something inaudible about needing to see the nurse, asking my pillow-friend Lexi to accompany me. We were able to make it down the long upstairs hallway of Roosevelt High School and down two steps of the grand staircase before I lost consciousness again. Lexi dropped my textbooks and backpack, diving to catch my head. What I later heard her tell me was that my skull was an inch away from cracking on the edge of the steps, her hand the cushion to keep me out of a coma. Eventually, someone dragged me to the nurse’s office and I woke up on a twin-sized bed as the smell of sterility filled my nostrils. This was the beginning of my long argument with my cardiac system, though we mostly just fight when my mitral valve refuses to close, sending me into the arms of gravity.

A week later, my mom sent Lexi an edible arrangement for saving my life.

20170210_holmberg_mugshots_witzke_9Over the next few years I would occasionally fall in and out of consciousness – literally. By the time I was a freshman at Bethel, I could easily recognize the impending signs and symptoms that would warn me before I softened into the darkness. Ironically, this began to make things worse. When I felt the first symptom which was usually a mix of intense heat and “tunnel hearing”, as I like to call it, I knew I had a solid five or so seconds to get myself to the floor. Due to the immense embarrassment that comes along with sprawling out on the ground in front of my peers, I would often try to get out of the room. This became more of a priority for me than laying down. During a freshman nursing biology class, I knew it was about to happen. I stood up, crawled over my peers and their cold desks to try to get out of the room, when I – this is where I stop remembering what happens and when everybody else starts to recall for me. I face-planted into a brick wall, sent my gold glasses flying, knocked over a ladder and woke up to my professor using me as a teaching lesson on mitral valve prolapse (typical nursing). Following this exciting adventure, I flew back to Sioux Falls, where I am from originally, to see my cardiologist on and off for follow-up appointments. Although these appointments were not the “worst health visits ever”, they were definitely semi-life altering and still impact how I live my life today.

—Peyton Witzke