I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television, but an Australian doctor recently told me I had tonsillitis, so I think I’m qualified to let the world know about the effects and symptoms, assuming there’s a difference–again, I’m not a doctor–of tonsillitis (by “world,” I mean the twelve people who might read this on accident because of a weird Google search). I caught tonsillitis while questing around Australia (I noticed my throat was first sore on a train from Alice Springs to Adelaide, and I probably caught it from breathing disgusting halitosis air from a fat kid), and so even while I was back at my temporary home in Sydney, there was one last adventure to take, and it was taking place INSIDE OF MY BODY!
1. Sore Throat
This starts as simple pain. It can easily be remedied by hydrating yourself, sucking on a lozenge, or drinking hot tea–even if it has milk in it, which is this thing they do here apparently. Within a day or more, though, the soreness will occur more frequently and will become more resistant to lozenges, just like the Borg, if they were once weakened by lozenges.
2. White Pockets of Pus
The second stage of tonsillitis is the soreness taking a visible form, in the shape of a small circle made of white/yellow pus, growing like horrible mold on the side of your throat. It’s super gross. You’ll have these thoughts: “OK–no problem, I’ll just gargle salt warm salt water to kill that. And I’ll start taking vitamin C.” Neither of these things were available to me while on the train to Sydney, so I tried to drink as much water as I could, as if I could flush the pus away, which isn’t how science works at all. I started playing this fun game on the train where I tried to make my urine as clear as possible–I thought this would be a sign of healthiness, even though my urinary system is not even close to my, uh, throat system. I was hoping water would have sort of a “Wicked Witch of the West” effect on my throat, and not the “Gremlins” effect it actually had.
3. Ow. Ow! The Pain! Oh, The Pain! / See A Doctor
Water did not make the pocket of pus multiply, but it certainly didn’t cure the soreness, and the pain only became worse. The pus spread to a larger diameter, which was that much more gross. By the time I was back in Sydney, I needed to see a doctor. I had put up with the increasing soreness for around 5 days, and all the websites I checked said that a normal, no-need-to-see-a-doctor sore throat should have gone away by this point. Also, in an attempt to heal myself on my own, by this point I had started drinking orange juice, which burned my tonsil like salt on a wound, and gargling with salt water, which cleaned out my tonsil like another simile of equal or greater quality–but it was doctor time. The doctor and her cute assistant heard my symptoms, took a look with a flashlight, did not conduct a throat culture, and diagnosed me with tonsillitis, all in less than fifteen minutes. I had to pay $55 for the visit and I got a prescription for penicillin, which was only $16! Australia may have too-expensive candy, movies, and beer, but their medical care is pretty affordable.
In the night I woke up because my tonsils and uvula started competing to see who could take up the largest amount of surface area inside of my face. I could barely breathe and I could barely swallow. I had already taken two penicillin tablets that day, out of the fifty required of me to take, and I took a third after waiting an appropriate amount of time (I took it at 3:00AM), hoping and praying that the penicillin would start immediately hunting down the infection, like a more aggressive version of that episode of “The Magic School Bus.” I stayed up for the rest of the night, too afraid to fall asleep because I thought I might never wake up. As I laid awake, I started having weird at-night day dreams, which which more like day-mares, about the pus pockets growing immune to the penicillin and taking over my whole throat and mouth, and then my whole mouth would turn white and pus-covered, and then the infection would grow, like it was crawling out of my mouth, and take over my lips and then my cheeks and I would become a horrible, horrible monster, and the Australian government would have to put me down so I didn’t spread this original strain of strep-zombie-tonsillitis to the masses. I tried to lie awake and breathe through my nose and I waited until 9:00AM so I could take another pill.
5. The Silent Treatment
My throat was so swollen that I couldn’t talk. If I did, I had to put forth a lot of effort, and my throat would be in pain. I invented my own form of sign language, which was mostly “I want hot tea” or “Don’t make me talk/I can’t talk right now.”
6. Spontaneously Feeling Really Good
Out of nowhere, my throat stopped being swollen, I could speak, and I could swallow something other than tea or soup without my eyes watering. For me, this happened at the perfect time, because I had an improv show to play that night. And the next day I felt as good as new. And I still had around 30 penicillin tablets to take, one every six hours, only on an empty stomach, or all that pain and pus and paranoia might return.