This is the second attempt by colorblindness to kill me…
It started when I began feeling oddly dizzy in the evening. I was recovering from a bug, so thought nothing of it. Two hours later, I collapsed to the floor, unable to get up. I was panting, and completely disoriented. My wife called 911. Fortunately, the paramedics arrived within minutes. My blood pressure was dangerously low, so they rushed me to the hospital.
At first, the ER doctor assumed that I was simply dehydrated. They began rapidly pumping fluids into me through an IV, causing me to shiver uncontrollably. In spite of my fogginess, I told the doctor that it didn’t make sense that I was badly dehydrated. I had been drinking normal amounts of water, and hadn’t been losing liquids the way I had the other time I’d been hospitalized for dehydration. I sensed that he’d heard similar denials before.
He became much more serious when the blood test results came back. They indicated that I was losing blood. He asked, “Have you noticed any blood in your stools?”
I said, “I’m colorblind, so I wouldn’t know.”
He seemed exasperated by that response, but I might just have been projecting my embarrassment at being unable to know such a simple thing about myself. To repay my ignorance, he stuck a gloved finger up my butt and said, “Yes, you’re definitely bleeding. We’re going to admit you and schedule an endoscopy for tomorrow morning to find out where the blood is coming from.”
My first thought was, “Yes, of course, it’s only apt that I’m in the ER again because of being colorblind. At least if I survive, I’ll have another story to write.”
During an endoscopy the next morning, they found the source of the bleeding. I had some ulcers in need of attention. A couple of cauterizations, and a couple of endoclips patched the holes.
Over the course of the three days I spent in the hospital after my procedure, I was asked at least twenty times by nurses, nurse assistants, and doctors if my stools had any blood in them. For awhile, I responded that I was colorblind. In many cases, they didn’t seem to understand what I was saying, or why it was relevant. In other cases, they didn’t seem to believe that anyone could be that colorblind. They just looked frustrated by my response to what is usually a yes or no question, then went on with their business. It got to the point where I simply told them, “No”, because it didn’t seem to change the outcome of the conversation.
In retrospect, something had been awry with my stools for several months, at least. They had been mostly black. I had assumed that diet was simply making them darker brown than usual. Because this was an upper GI bleed, the blood tends to come out mostly black, with only hints of red. A few times I had thought that my poop had looked unusual, but shrugged it off as probably my imagination. I certainly wasn’t inclined to ask others for an opinion. I am used to doing so when shopping for clothes, but this was a bit more awkward.
I had been unusually tired during this period. I couldn’t figure out why there was no pep in my step, particularly in the morning, which was unusual for me. Ironically, I assumed that my lack of energy was partially due to the fact that I had been writing about my colorblindness with renewed focus. Individually, the stories weren’t particularly monumental, but the sum of them was rather depressing. It seemed that being colorblind had affected my life’s path far more than I had imagined.
Apparently, it still does.