22 September 2014

Apple Juice

I shall now regale you with the story of the one and only time in my life I have ever craved anything.

It was when I had strep throat this past March. I had developed the sore throat on Sunday afternoon and by Sunday night, I couldn't swallow anything. No food, no water... nothing. I fought through Monday half in a state of denial: "It can't be strep throat... I just had it less than a year ago... and anyway, I can't get medication because I don't have a vehicle... so it can't be strep throat..."

By Tuesday I realised that there was no escaping the reality -- it was strep throat. I began in earnest the process of trying to beg a ride or a vehicle from somebody, anybody, on campus. I even resorted to asking my friend who lives in the area if her parents could give me a ride to a doctor. But nobody was going to town. Literally. Nobody.

Tuesday night marked 48 hours without food. I went to dance class as usual, even though I knew I was likely to collapse of exhaustion. I was not missing dance class. By this time, I was so miserable I was actually considering walking to Moose Jaw (twenty minutes' drive from the college) -- figuring if I started out right after dance class, I should be able to hit town by the next morning. But when I returned from dance class, I found that one of the hall leaders had 'strongly suggested' to someone with a vehicle that they should take me to the doctor the next day. I had a ride to the doctor for Wednesday morning.

Wednesday I went to the doctor, got the diagnosis and a prescription, and the rest of the day is lost to me. I probably came back to the dorm and slept. I know I missed lunch because I felt so terrible. But I also know I didn't miss a single class over this entire strep throat story, so I must have gone to history class that afternoon.

Thursday the antibiotics hadn't really started to kick in yet. I had now lived over 72 hours without being able to eat enough to satisfy my hunger. I was getting faint and sleeping every spare second I had. The antibiotics made water taste like sulphur, which gagged me, and as a result I was dying of thirst as well as hunger.

Thursday afternoon, after lunch, I was laying on my bed, too spent to move. I had managed to choke down a grilled cheese sandwich at lunch -- the first substantial meal I'd eaten since Sunday lunch -- but the awful taste of water had prevented me from washing the sandwich down with anything. I was so thirsty, but the thought of drinking the water turned my stomach.

So it's 1.30pm and I'm laying on my bed dying of thirst. I can't have water because it makes me gag, I don't want anything sugary because I know it'll just feed the infection, plus I don't really like soda pop anyway. But I needed to drink something or else I would go crazy.

And suddenly it hit me. Apple juice.

The intensity of the craving startled me. I've never before craved anything in my life, and suddenly I wanted apple juice so badly I would have killed someone for it.

But the cafeteria was closed. I would have to wait until suppertime. Unless... I could go to the store. It was only a ten-minute walk to the store, but in my wiped-out, sick, and half-starved state it was too exhausting to even fathom the walk there, never mind walking back. (By this time I was so out of it that I could barely get off of the bed.)

So I lay there, staring at the ceiling, half-asleep with the phantom taste of apple juice on my tongue. I hadn't had apple juice in years, but I could taste it. And then I remembered the small bag of Granny Smith apples on the shelf directly above my head.

I have never eaten an apple so fast in my life. It wasn't apple juice, but it was an apple and it contained juice and that was all that mattered. It carried me over until supper, and then after dance that night, despite being completely wiped out (dancing when you haven't eaten in four days kind of takes it out of you), I walked to the store, bought apple juice and a Powerade, and returned to my dorm room, where I proceeded to guzzle the entire bottle of apple juice in half an hour.

And that's the last I remember about strep throat. For scarcely had I had time to recover before facing a new enemy... two major papers and a memorisation worth 50% of the course grade that had been due that week. And it was then that I learnt about the value of mercy, for it was merciful profs who kept me above academic probation.

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