Several decades ago, colorblindness tried to kill me…
My fingers were bones. Nothing more. Thin, knobby, reticulated mechanisms that generally moved at my command, but… they didn’t feel at all connected to me. I touched my hands together… and felt no flesh. I looked at them. My fingers looked longer than usual… and more like claws than fingers.
It took some time for me to gain enough lucidity to realize that I was hallucinating. But… why? I wasn’t on drugs… that was for sure. Okay… I remember that I was with my girlfriend, Renee, visiting her sister. We were staying there overnight for some reason. I had came down with what felt like a nasty bug. High fever, vomiting, diarrhea. Maybe that’s why we weren’t going home. I was very weak, and needed the bathroom to be very close by, so the idea of going on a drive was quite unappealing. I could contentedly stay here… forever.
I drifted in and out of consciousness. One time, when I opened my eyes, I saw Renee hovering nearby. I thought she was trying to get my attention. I told her, “My hands are just bones. Isn’t that strange? Look.”… then waved them about. That made her concerned enough to drive me to a nearby emergency department. I don’t remember the journey. I do remember being awoken by a doctor in a waiting area. He was talking to me. No… I just wanted to sleep… didn’t like the hallucinations. He was persistent, and eventually I understood that he was asking me to do something. He was holding this clear plastic container, and telling me to provide a stool sample. The thought of doing so made me uncomfortable… all that was coming out was liquid.
He and Renee walked me over to a bathroom to perform the task. I hobbled out, handed the specimen jar to a nurse, and stumbled back to a chair. Ahhh… sleep again… but before I was able to do so, the doctor hurried out and did what I thought to be a rather unusual and embarrassing thing… he held the sample up for us to see. He said, “We have to admit him immediately.” He added in a scolding tone to Renee, “Why didn’t you bring him in earlier?”
She cringed, responding, “I didn’t know!” Other than being pure liquid, I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. It was disgusting, but what was the big deal?
Seeing my perplexed expression, the doctor asked, “You can’t see that… it’s bright red?”
Hmm… a moment of lucidity… now I knew part of the problem. I responded weakly, “No… umm… I’m colorblind.”
I remember a rush to get me a wheelchair before I collapsed. My next memory was awakening in a hospital bed, an IV in my arm. How odd… to feel clearheaded again. When a nurse came in, I asked her how long I had been there. “You’ve been a very sleepy boy. It’s been a full day since you were admitted.”
They never definitively determined what had caused the problem. They guessed that I had developed some kind of bacterial infection, causing severe lower GI bleeding. Not being aware that I was pooping blood, I assumed that I just had a regular, if severe, flu. The combination of blood and fluid loss accelerated my dehydration quickly to the point of life’s edge.
When people ask me if colorblindness has affected me much, I say, “Yes, quite a bit, actually.”