FRIED FEVER, PART 3 “Showroom of Perfections”

18 06 2011



As soon as the doctor, a sweet and cute looking, but tough Asian/American doll leaves the room, Peter and me stare at each other.

“I have AIDS. Holy Shit. Our baby has AIDS. I will be dead in a year,” I scream with my little weakened voice. “Fuck! Fuckin fuck fuck.” I press my face into the iced pillow and clench my teeth.

“No, you don’t. She said it could very well be a false positive result. Stay with this, baby, stay here with me. Don’t go into future nightmares that are not confirmed yet.”

“Yes, I do. Oh God. I fucked everything up. Come on, hate me!”

Peter lifts me up. I’m a slack washcloth, too weak to resist. I hang in his strong arms and listen to his heartbeat. I love him so much. I give into a bout of crying, silent at first and he strokes my hair so gently that I’m overcome by even more love for him, regret and shame about my past and guilt for him. If I have it, he must have it too. We never used condoms.

A nasty memory flashes into my mind: I bought a bag of sealed syringes from my sleazy dealer and when I got home and used them, they were all dull. Obviously used. But the sealed bag fooled me into false safety. How could a sealed bag of syringes be used and be contaminated? Now I can see it. It takes nothing but a cheap contraption, a machine used to seal frozen goods, available at any Wal-Mart or drugstore. I’ve been duped and my stupid, gullible drug addled moron self has given me AIDS. It’s my entire fault.  I’ve infected our baby and the man I love.

I’m dirt and will soon be dirt six feet under.

“I could never hate you. And I could have given it to you.”

We spend the rest of the weekend in a haze. We slowly come to accept that we will die. Like so many of our friends before us.

The nice nurse puts fresh sheets on another bed and fluffs up the pillows.

“You can get out of the icebox now” she says with a strained smile “your fever has come down and you might as well be comfortable now”

“Ya, thank you, I will be very comfortable knowing that I have AIDS and be dead in a year,” I snap.

“We don’t now that for sure. Those tests are not sophisticated at all yet. Try to relax” she says, but I know she’s lying.

I’m so sick, so weak and I have to get up with all those infusions and bottles connected to me in order to make it to the bathroom every ten minutes. I know from reading about AIDS that diarrhea is a certain early symptom of AIDS. I’ve got it, no doubt about it.

“I have nobody to blame but myself.” I whine to Peter during the minutes I am able to lay down. “I fucked up and here we are. This is what happens to junkies and what an idiot I was to believe that I slipped out from under it. Nobody does.”

“Shhhhh” Peter says while he rubs my back. “We are in this together and we will stay together, no matter what. I love you”

I try to smile at him, but I have to rush back into he bathroom.

Those cramps are more than intense. I can’t imagine how a two-inch baby can have the strengths to hold on to my uterus, while my body expels everything and more that is inside me.

Another infusion pumps a powerful and merciful tranquilizer into me and I sleep and doze during the rest of the weekend. Peter lies next to me on a cot the hospital provides, but he doesn’t get any meds. He is remarkably calm and never leaves my site.

“Do you believe in a power greater than you?” I ask during one of the rare moments when I’m lucid enough to speak.

“I do” he says, “and everything will be okay”

I envy him for his faith. And I’m grateful for it. I don’ t know how I’d be able to get through this if he was as scared and hopeless as I am.

Sunday turns into Monday morning. I look out the window and see a glimmering sun rising up. The sun doesn’t care about a pregnant couple with AIDS. The sun rises no matter what. It is brutal and doesn’t care.

At seven am, my doctor rushes into our room. Her cheeks are red and her eyes glimmer with excitement.

“The second test is negative. Did you have Syphilis at any point in your life?” the words spill out of her like gold marbles.

“Yes, I was treated for it, years ago” I sigh “But I might have neglected to show up for the check-up. I mean, I thought I was cured”

“You were. But those tests sometimes react with a positive HIV result when somebody had that in the past.” She checks my chart and bobs her head up and down when she sees how much my fever has gone down. By now, it’s an almost normal 100 degrees.

“We still have to wait for the cultures to tell us what you have, but it certainly is not HIV. And not Hepatitis C either. You are also free of any other sexually transmitted disease and anything else you could have picked up during your drug addiction. Congratulations. You are a very lucky couple. We can release you now, so you can recover in your own bed at home.”

I almost jump up, but the tubes yank me back.

“My guess is that you caught an extremely nasty bug, most likely from contaminated meat, do you remember if you ate anything suspicious?”

I do. That fried poisonous burger before the meeting. I gag when I think about it. The one time I was “good” and did not throw up almost killed me. It’s so ironic, but I can’t laugh about it. My very first hamburger ever.

Eventually, a few days later, the test results come back: Lysteria. It stays with me for the next six weeks. I lose so much weight, that I certainly don’t look pregnant anymore. I spend hours in the bathroom, racked with cramps and pain. But the baby holds on.

My doctor brings the issue of abortion up again, very carefully.

“No. I’m having this baby. It has gone through this nightmare, so it must be extra ordinarly strong and resilient. I have faith that it will be alright.”

“If you feel really strong about it, I will do anything I can to help you. But first of all, we need you to put some weight on. You think you can do that?”

“Of course I can,” I say. But I’m not sure. I haven’t told her about the bulimia. Nobody knows but me, not even Peter. One more time, I swear to myself that I will never throw up again. One more time, I’m certain that I will keep this promise. Because it is only 11 am.



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