How do you relieve stress? I am partial to half a joint and some chocolate followed by a bowl of Cheerios. That’s my sleep aid pretty much every night. But, one Friday I had a particularly stressful day and thought I needed a chaser with my usual cocktail. I should mention I was married to Mr. Sierra #2 at the time. I lovingly refer to him as Dumbass in polite conversation. Anyway, I came home that day to find Dumbass in the kitchen grilling on our outdoor gas grill. I said in the kitchen, did you notice that? Yes, he was INSIDE grilling with a full size outdoor gas grill. It took a helluva an argument to get him to understand that that isn’t safe and he needed to turn it off or go outside. He was pissed at me the rest of the day for ruining his cookout and did everything he could to drive me crazy.
By bedtime I was too stressed for my usual sleep aid. So, I waited for Dumbass to go to sleep and I liberated two of his Tylenol Three with codeine pills. It proved to be quite effective. I was out like a light. I woke in the middle of the night to use the restroom. As I walked to the bathroom I just didn’t feel right. I thought I must be super groggy from my medicinal cocktail. I happened to glance in the mirror above the sink. I couldn’t believe it, I looked like—I don’t even know what I looked like. I was covered in hives from the top of my head to my feet. My face was swollen beyond recognition. My eyes were nearly swollen shut. My lips were huge. I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I was certain my throat was closing and I was going to die.
I freaked out. I ran back to the bedroom and tried to wake up Dumbass. Of course, he wouldn’t wake up. I panicked. I didn’t think I should drive because my eyes were nearly closed. I thought my throat was going to shut down any minute. What if I was driving and I passed out because I couldn’t breathe? Luckily, we lived about four blocks away from the Starr Avenue fire station. I decided that was my best bet. I would walk to the fire station and the firemen would help me.
Midway through the first block cars started honking at me as they passed. That’s when I realized I didn’t change before I left the house. I was walking down Starr Avenue at 1:00 in the morning, covered in hives, face horribly swollen while wearing zebra print boy cut underwear with matching camisole. I paused for a second and wondered if I should go home and change then walk to the fire station. I was certain I was way too close to death and that would take up too much precious time. As the cars continued to honk I yelled, “yeah, yeah,” back at them. That’s the only response my brain could come up. I was concentrating on my certain death which loomed so near.
I finally got to the fire station and I started banging on the door. The firemen were all asleep and it took about five minutes for someone to answer the door. A man peered out the window at me. I said, “My name is Libby Sierra and I am having an allergic reaction. I need help.” He simply stared at me through the window for what seemed forever. Then he yelled, “Hey, guys. It’s Friday night on the East Side. Come see this.”
Well, I was indignant at his lack of concern for what I felt was obviously a life threatening situation. I yelled back through the door, “I can hear you!” I’m not sure he could understand what I said as my lips were so swollen it came out with kind of a lisp. He finally opened the door and let me in.
The other firemen gathered around as he gave me an IV with an antihistamine in it. They told me they had to take me to the hospital. They gave me a blanket and I climbed into the ambulance and went to the hospital. Once there, I got another shot of medicine through the IV and waited for the swelling to go down. Six hours later the Doctor told me I was free to leave. Oh shit, I thought. I didn’t have my phone, money or car. I had no choice, I had to do the worst thing ever, I had to call Dumbass to come and get me.
I used the hospital phone and called him. It was about 8:00 in the morning. He answered the phone by yelling, “Where the fuck are you?” “I’m at the hospital,” I said meekly. “You’re at the right place then ‘cause I’m gonna whip your ass when I get there.” He hung up and I wrapped my blanket around me tighter and stood at the entrance to wait for him. He was there in record time. He watched me walk out of the hospital in my underwear and barefoot. He was shaking his head in wonderment. I don’t think he was prepared for what he saw. When I climbed into the truck his anger was replaced with curiosity.
“What did you do?” he asked.
I hung my head and tried to figure out where to start. I just experienced the most shameful walk of shame ever, that’s all.