Songwriters: Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil
Original Release: Superunknown
Definitive Version: None
Until further notice, 1994 was the worst year I’ve had physically. It started (in March) with me going to the hospital in Flint for my gall bladder and ended with me going to the hospital in Columbus for, well, I have no idea what it was, but I got some kind of bug.
Debbie and I were shopping at Northland Mall right after Christmas. I wasn’t feeling too good when we had lunch at Galt’s, which was like a Friday’s, and pretty terrible actually. I was feeling oogy by the time I went to work, but it was a Thursday, and I had to lay out BT, so it wasn’t as though I could call in sick.
After a lifetime of stomach issues, I can tell when it’s just being grumpy and when something’s wrong. If I’m feeling nauseous, and Tums don’t resolve the issue, the key is what happens when I eat something. If I eat everything and I feel OK, then I’m fine. At dinner time, I went to Sbarro at City Center and got baked ziti, one of my Dispatch dinner-time staples. I had two bites … and that was it. Something was wrong.
After my dinner fling, I took my layouts up to the fourth floor to work, but it wasn’t long before I had to head to the bathroom. I went down to the mezzanine floor, where the advertising folks worked, so, of course, no one was there at 8:30. I had the bathroom—the entire floor—to myself, thank goodness. For the only time ever, I got sick at work.
This was a real problem, because I had done barely any work on BT. (I spent most of my pre-sickness worktime rubbing my tummy.) Thursday through Saturday was my big stretch, and being out would cause a real time-crunch problem for the copy desk, but there was no doubt: I had to go home.
Debbie already had planned to spend the night with me for reasons I don’t recall. When she came in (by now, she had a key to my place), she found me flopped on my bed in some state of undress.
When I get sick, I never feel better right away. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Shortly after I moved to Chicago in 2005, I had a bout of something, threw up, and … I felt better. I mean immediately and measureably. I never had experienced that before. More typical for me was what happened in Columbus in 1994: I’d throw up once and feel worse and inevitably have to do it again.
After a while, Debbie decided to take me to the hospital. She took me to Grant, which, being downtown, was the closest one to my apartment. I took a big pot for the trip just in case. It’s a good thing I did, because I had to use it while the poor admissions person tried to get my information. I threw up—I’m not exaggerating—four times.
The last time, I couldn’t believe I still had anything left, but it was more than anything before then. When I was done, my right hand clenched like I had palsy. All the fingers were mashed together, and I couldn’t move them. I was shaking, and Debbie said later she could see total fear in my eyes. I can’t move my hand! What’s happening to me?!
They took me to a room and hooked me up to an IV, and the nurse, who was a man gave me a paper bag. He said I was hyperventilating, and I should breathe into the bag, slowly and steadily. I tried, and the first time was a failure, but I kept at it, and soon I felt myself start to relax.
I lost track of time. I felt myself drift in and out of sleep. I didn’t get sick again. Finally, after a few hours, I was sent home with instructions to not eat nothing but ice chips, then soup the next day and see how I did with that.
The storm passed. I was fine although tired. I had to take the rest of the week off, however, so I bought dinner for everyone on the copy desk one day the next week to make up for my absence and the extra hours they had to put in as a result.
Debbie took good care of me—maybe too good, actually. At the hospital, she kissed me a couple times, and I didn’t think that was a good idea. It turns out I was right, because, apparently, whatever I had was communicable. Debbie got sick—almost note for note the same thing—New Year’s Eve.
This was bad, because we were having a bunch of people, including Jin, Scott and Shani, over to my apartment in German Village for a little party before going to a nearby bar to ring in the new year.
Needless to say—but I’ll say it anyway—we didn’t go anywhere. Debbie went upstairs for the night, and all our guests left before the clock struck midnight. I rang in 1995 holding Debbie’s hair in the bathroom and shattering ice cubes with a hammer—much to Debbie’s consternation—to feed her chips. The only real difference is Debbie didn’t want me to take her to the hospital.
In retrospect, 1994 couldn’t have ended more symbolically.