Sunday, August 08, 2010

Three years ago...

at about this time, I was at the Holiday Inn in Collinsville, Illinois, recovering after a visit to the local emergency room.

I was a panelist at the NASFIC in 2007, which was held in conjunction with St. Louis' Tuckercon. I had a very bad time of time of it that weekend.

I changed jobs at the very end of July; my boss at the old job, to save money for the lousy company that owned the newspaper where I worked, had me work two jobs the last three weeks I was there. The sports editor has given her notice a week before I did. He made no move to fill the job, so I did both the job as managing editor and sports editor for those three weeks. At one point, someone called in sick for three days, and then I was doing three jobs.

This is the way dishonest businesses cheat their employees - give you duties that are impossible to accomplish in a 40-hour work week and forbid overtime, so you have to work off the clock to keep your job.

Every summer, I have to battle sinus congestion and inflammation. Working 70 hours a week for almost a month left me so debilitated that what should have been a simple allergy attack turned into a vicious inner ear infection.

I went to work at my new job for three days at the start of August - weak and stunned - and then took off for St. Louis. I didn't know what was developing, and unfortunately I took the Texas Eagle train from Texarkana to St. Louis overnight.

I didn't know I had an inner ear infection, and the rocking of the train aggravated it so bad that I threw up, and the next morning I essentially passed out in my seat. I only got off the train when the conductor went to check tickets for people WHO GOT ON at St. Louis and realized I should have gotten off. The train was ready to leave, but he stopped it and they helped me off the train.

The person from the convention who had come to pick me up had already left, but they came back and took me to the convention center across the Mississippi in Collinsville.

Once off the train I recovered a bit, and with the help of rest and Dramamine I made it until Sunday, but the inner ear infection festered and Sunday afternoon while trying to rest in the green room I realized I was too dizzy to walk and I called 911.

The local hospital treated me like crap when they learned I didn't have health insurance - since I had just left my old job - and they just thought I was a fat schlub with high blood pressure. They gave me some blood pressure medicine and shoved me out the door.

I told them I thought there was something wrong with my inner ears, but the nurse wouldn't even look.

Tuckercon put me up in Holiday Inn an extra night and then took me to the airport the next day. I was still so sick the van had to stop by the side of the highway so I could throw up on the way to the airport.

I flew into Dallas and then Texarkana, and first thing Tuesday saw my doctor, who quickly diagnosed the ear infection and prescribed the antibiotics I needed. I went back to work Tuesday afternoon.

Thanks to COBRA, most of my emergency room visit was later paid for. The hospital still wanted a couple of hundred dollars; I told them they needed to close down and go into a business they are better suited for, perhaps as a slaughterhouse.

Tuckercon was great; they sent the guy back to the train station to pick me up after I missedgetting off, and then I went to the hospital they had a member of the con committee stay with me the whole time and keep in constant contact with Patricia back home. They also comped me the room Sunday night.

Since then, in 2008 and 2009, I have had the same allergy attack at the same time of the year, but the conditions of 2007 were unique; and while I've had to deal with the ear congestion and coughing, I have coped rather well. I don't feel bad at all.

What a difference three years makes.

Just some thought as this year's NASFIC in Raleigh, North Carolina, winds up. I'm starting to think about the WorldCon in Reno next year.

Umm, I wonder how I handle altitude sickness???

Oh, I forgot to mention the hospital - it's actually in Maryville, Illinois, it's called Anderson Hospital. If, God forbid, you ever have to go there, don't. That was the worst hospital visit I ever had in my life. A bunch of callous butchers, I'm lucky they didn't throw me in the dumpster.

Not that I'm bitter...

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