After running a 5K, scuba diving in a pool for four hours, and eating and drinking too much at the Taste of the Marianas, I went to bed at around 11:30 with a full stomach and a slight buzz.
I woke up four hours later with a pain in my neck. I thought nothing of it at first. I figured I was just sleeping in a funny position, so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
No such luck. My neck really hurt. I still figured that it must hurt from sleeping in an uncomfortable position, so I started rubbing it in the hopes that the pain would subside.
That's when I noticed that there was a huge bump in my neck where the pain was originating. Being that it was now 4:15 in the morning, I didn't really want to get up, but the pain was getting worse and the bump felt pretty big, so I got out of bed to look at my neck in the mirror.
The bump wasn't discolored and it wasn't huge, but the left side of my neck, just below my ear, was noticeably bigger than the other side. This was a new experience, so I didn't really know what to do...but it really hurt. I tried brushing my teeth, but it hurt to open my mouth. It also hurt to turn my head.
I decided to consult WebMD. I navigated through their online symptom checker and their advice was to seek immediate medical attention.
Great, I was thinking. I don't have any insurance.
I hate going to the doctor. The last time I went to the doctor for a check up, it ended up costing me $120...and that was WITH insurance.
This seemed pretty serious though. You are not supposed to have big lumps in your neck. I didn't know what was going on. It felt like it could be some inflamed gland or something. It didn't feel like a sore muscle anymore. I'm not a doctor, but I knew something was seriously wrong.
I woke Emily up, who after a little grumbling, got dressed and took me to the hospital. She's a champ. I think she knew that if I felt that I had to go to the hospital, that it had to be REALLY serious. You usually have to take me there kicking and screaming. When I was attacked by pit bulls in Costa Rica, it took an hour for my professor to convince me to go to the clinic and last month when I had sun poisoning, I refused to go at all.
We got to the hospital around 4:45 and after a little wait, the doctor diagnosed that I probably overworked the styloglossus muscle in my neck while scuba diving. He deduced that I was probably chomping down on the mouth piece because I was uncomfortable underwater. Doing that for four hours caused the muscle to spasm, hence the pain and the inflammation.
Although I was freaked out when I first saw the bump, my gut told me that he was probably right.
To be on the safe side though, he scheduled me an appointment with an ETN specialist tomorrow. He told me that if the lump and the pain go away to just call and cancel the appointment. If the lump and the pain do not go away, then there is a possibility that the problem could be something much more serious, but that in a 27 year old, it is very unlikely.
He prescribed some percocet, some warm water, and a light massage.
I think I'm going to make it.