I Tweeted My Way Through the ER


I spent last Saturday night in the ER, and unlike most millennials who go to the hospital on weekends, I wasn't inebriated or under the influence of any potentially harmful substances. Really. I just have terrible luck. I had food poisoning, which had caused me to pass out and face plant onto my living room floor, at 3:35 a.m.

Though I blogged extensively about the bizarre encounter last week, I don't remember much leading up to my fainting spell, which was brought about by debilitating stomach cramps I was certain were appendix-related. My roommate and I had just gotten back from interactive NYC play Sleep No More, and once I'd settled into my bed, the center of my stomach began to hurt, more specifically my navel, which is supposed to ache before the appendix bursts. The pain was so bad, I couldn't sleep, so I hobbled to the restroom, hoping that moving around would help.

I washed my hands in the sink, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor in front of my roommate's door, covered in sweat, dizzy, seeing stars, and trembling. After I pulled myself up and said I was in trouble, I made a decision to go to the ER, as I also had a black eye from apparently fainting face-first onto our hardwood floor. My eye was black, my nose was bleeding, and my cheek was burning. It wasn't a pretty sight, but I feared what was going on inside of me looked much scarier.

For better or worse, I like to partake in our "oversharing culture," so I immediately took to Twitter to explain what had happened, praying one of my 3,400+ followers would be up and willing to shed light or advice or at least send their support. Four people, two of which are awesome PolicyMic pundits, responded right away and urged me to get to a doctor ASAP, and because I'd started feeling worse (especially after scanning WebMD), I threw on some presentable clothes, left my apartment, and hailed a cab to the nearest hospital.

To my luck, it was empty and the nurses pulled me into triage right away to take my vitals and jot down my symptoms. After they moved me from red folder status to green folder status, I frantically text messaged my mom and friends, hoping someone would be awake and make me feel less alone and scared. The last time I'd been to the ER was in high school, and I'd had my mom to accompany me back then. Now I live across the country from my entire immediate family, so in the event that I'm feeling especially vulnerable, I'm on my own. Everybody was asleep when I text messaged them, but there were a ton of Twitter folks up, and a lot of these "tweeps," if you will, got me through the next few minutes and told me I was in the best place possible for what was happening to me. 

After I was taken into a private room, a nurse said she need to run a few tests on me, and the first required sticking a bunch of squares with cords onto my stomach. Seeming exhausted and perhaps a little cranky (understandably), she complained that I had "lotion" all over my torso, as if I'd had time to apply moisturizer before rushing to the ER just to perv out on everyone. At that point, I was more amused than worried, so I made a few jokes on Twitter, which the followers keeping up with my little incident seemed to appreciate.

After an hour and a half of waiting on doctors and tweeting in between tests, I learned I did not, in fact, have appendicitis, even though some of my symptoms were spot on and not to be ignored. I'd merely eaten a poorly cooked burger, and once I relayed this on Twitter, my friends and followers expressed relief that nothing serious had happened. I'd fainted due to cramps and would look banged up for a couple of days, but I was going to be fine. 

The "oversharing culture" gets a ton of flak, especially since millennials make up so much of it and previous generations like to ruffle our feathers every once in a while. Am I proud of the fact that I live-tweeted my ER visit? Absolutely not, but when I couldn't reach anyone close to me early in the morning and had to go to the ER alone, I needed something to help me feel less terrified and alone. I already spam people on Facebook, so I didn't use that. There's always someone awake on Twitter, and I like knowing many of these folks will help in any way they can, even via internet.

Twitter can be a hellscape of bullying and trolling, but it can also be surprisingly helpful, and the social media outlet doesn't receive enough credit for providing that sense of comfort to users.

Are you addicted to Twitter as well? Follow me and we can talk about how much we love the site, or you can explain why you're not so crazy about it: @LauraDonovanUA