Spoiler: I almost died, for reasons unknown, on Catalina Island. (Trigger warning to @carlynkane ok)
  1. Catalina Island is 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.
  2. You may know it as a celebrity hangout…
  3. The ritzy film fest locale…
  4. Or from the Catalina Wine Mixer (now a real thing).
  5. I, however, know it as a few other things:
  6. The place everyone from my hometown goes if they have any nautical inclinations whatsoever…
  7. The location of my 7th grade trip…
  8. And the setting of my greatest unknown medical mystery.
  9. It was the summer of 2012.
    Summer before senior year of high school. Things were changing, but we had more freedom than ever. (I can only load photos from the internet right now, so all the image search has to give me at this time is this senior portrait I took of @carlynkane. I'll take it.)
  10. Carlyn was taking her yearly family trip to Catalina and, like every year, was begging me to come.
  11. I figured it's now or never!
    I got over the trauma of our 7th grade trip to pack a bag, book a ferry, and join her family out in Avalon.
  12. I loved the ride over.
    I grew up sailing and have a profound connection to the Pacific.
  13. She picked me up at the dock, and we spent the day walking around the beach and riding their golf cart.
    That's the totally acceptable way of getting around this island. Very slow and not great on hills.
  14. That first night, we went to a fancy restaurant for dinner.
    It was great. I love going to dinner with people's families. I convinced Carlyn to wear a new dress we'd picked out earlier, and I ate a delicious burger with those fun little onion strings that are supposed to be classy onion rings.
  15. As per my standard, I drank about 8 glasses of water throughout the meal.
    I'm a fish and a busboy's worst nightmare, I know. Stick with me; all these details are important.
  16. After the meal, Carlyn & I went to the general store to rent a movie for a night in.
  17. The store was bright, lit with fluorescent lights, and crammed with DVDs and other tourist miscellany.
  18. We stared at the rack of DVDs.
  19. Suddenly, a wave of dizziness hit me. It was so severe that I could hardly stand up.
  20. Carlyn noticed what was up. She tried to ask me if I was okay in that panicked way where people hope that things won't escalate.
  21. The next thing I remember is Carlyn trying to help me outside.
    I am, like, easily almost twice her size at this point in our lives, so thanks for that, friend
  22. She brought me to a bench by the beach and panicked.
  23. I scrambled for a trash can.
  24. I puked in an ash tray.
    Too dizzy to tell the difference.
  25. There was this inscrutable pain in my right side.
    I hadn't been in great health for many years at that point, but I'd never had an episode like this. I couldn't figure out what it was.
  26. All at once, I lost the use of most of my muscles.
    Imagine that feeling where you can't keep your eyes open, but all over your body.
  27. I got myself to a bench and effectively passed out.
    Carlyn was a total mess at this point. No one was picking up their phones.
  28. The thing was, I was entirely awake.
  29. I could hardly speak. I couldn't stand up. But my brain was completely functioning.
    The severe pain in my side wasn't helping my train of thought, but I was aware of everything around me nonetheless.
  30. I could hear Carlyn finally on the phone with someone.
  31. "Yeah, oh my god, she's entirely passed out. I'm so scared."
    I wanted to be like, no! I'm here! I'm ok, just in some pain! But I couldn't. That's about the time when I started to come to terms with the fact that this was the end for me.
  32. The golf cart finally pulled up, Carlyn's older sister and her friend in tow.
    They loaded me up as best they could. Her friend, Anna, basically held my useless corpse through the seatbelt-free drive to the hospital. If I didn't die from this episode, I was going to die on this golf car ride.
  33. We pulled up, and the nurses immediately chastised them for not calling 911.
    There was some reason she didn't that I no longer remember.
  34. They loaded me onto a bed.
  35. The nurses were super rough with me, trying to get me to come to.
    I was totally fine with all the answers to their questions, as the lights were still on in my brain. I just really struggled with physically saying each thing. One nurse in particular was pretty aggressive with me to the point where I just started crying from exhaustion. I honestly just wished for death at this point. I couldn't see a time in which this would all go away.
  36. IV in. Samples taken. One problem:
  37. I peed right after dinner.
  38. I couldn't give them a urine sample.
  39. "She drank, like, 20 glasses of water. She's not dehydrated."
    Got my back, Carlyn!
  40. They decided I was dehydrated unless I could pee for them in the next five minutes.
    Have you ever tried to pee under pressure? How about pee, under pressure, with all your clothes ripped off, in a super bright emergency room, while you don't really have any control over your muscles in the first place?
  41. Five minutes passed. No urine.
    Of course.
  42. The only thing to do is stick in a catheter!
    Still on my list of top 5 most painful things I've ever experienced.
  43. Once they saw I couldn't pee on command, they concluded I was just dehydrated.
    What. The. Hell. I was FURIOUS. That was obviously not the case, but I was too weak to argue.
  44. They slapped this diagnosis on my case largely in part because they just didn't have any equipment to test me for anything else.
    They were understaffed. No ultrasound machine. Welcome to Catalina Island.
  45. I couldn't stay a night because it'd be so expensive.
  46. They discharged me with a dehydration diagnosis.
    I could still hardly walk on my own.
  47. I finally made it into bed, still in excruciating pain.
    I hardly slept that whole night.
  48. I left the next day with the assistance of my mother.
    I still wasn't okay. I avoided driving for about a week after for fear that it would hit me again without warning. (It did, in a more mild form, many months after.)
  49. I presented the case to my doctor squad.
    Endocrinologist, naturopath, general physician, sleep doctor—no one could figure it out.
  50. This is, to this day, a big question mark in my medical history.
    I live with just a little bit of fear that it could happen again one day. It was terrifying. It was like that locked-in syndrome mixed with narcolepsy and a ruptured cyst or something (it was, in reality, none of these things, as far as we know).
  51. I'm now scared of catheters. I carry my medical insurance card with me everywhere, no matter what.
  52. And Carlyn sold that brand new dress to Crossroads.
    Too much baggage.
  53. I haven't been to Catalina since.