in august, 1999 i ran up to winnemucca, nevada to help my girlfriend, joann, and the company she worked for, roadshows, with the first event i would work for the special event organizer.
this particular event was at the model t inn. coincidentally, i would eventually come to work for radio station kptl, which was owned by the casino group, holder hospitality group, which owned the model t.
on this weekend, roadshows was setting up in the casino’s parking lot for an oldies concert featuring “lil’ elmo and the cosmos.”
not yet known by roadshows for my ability to work on-stage, i was working on the stage; building backdrops, taping cables, hanging lights and stacking speakers.
the heat in northern nevada in august can sometimes be quite oppressive and this day was no exception. but the setup went fairly well. it didn’t take all that long to get the stage ready for the sound crew, which arrived just about the time we were ready for them.
this is when the problems became apparent: there was only one power source!
well, after several hours of blowing circuits in the middle of the band’s performances and dragging miles of extension cords from every corner of the casino, joann and i were finally able to make it into the coffee shop for dinner at around 2300 hours (11pm).
i had pork chops and eggs and i have no idea what joann had.
before too long, i started to feel a tugging in my right cheek: much like having a sweetart tucked between my cheek and gum.
well, since i was eating pork chops and eggs, i didn’t think this was right and put my hand to my jaw. my neck was distended way beyond my jaw.
nervously, i said to joann: “what’s wrong with my neck?”
“oh my god!” she replied. “what’s wrong with your neck?”
well, i did my best to ignore it by continuing to eat. but, it only got bigger.
i also began to get a queasy feeling and a little light-headed – even for me!
after a few more bites and not being successful at ignoring the growing growth on the side of my face (i was sure i was having an aneurysm) i told joann i thought she should take me back to the room.
she got up and said she was going to pay the bill and would be right back to help me.
well, as i sat there, continuing to think i was about to die from an aneurysm, i decided i’d better start walking back to the room. since i was certainly going to be moving at a very slow rate of speed, joann would have no trouble catching up with me to open the door for me.
i didn’t get that far.
i didn’t even get outside the coffee shop before i fell to the floor, my head hitting the tile like, according to joann and the hostess, a watermelon hitting the ground.
i had no idea i was going down until i saw the two of them over me.
at this point i was sure i was going to die.
the strange thing: i was ok with it. except for the fact that i was going to die on the floor of a casino coffee shop, i was just fine with departing this world.
i felt wonderful; never better.
i was sure i was going to die and i was happy to know that the dying part, not the cause of death but death itself, was as beautiful is i’d hoped it would be. i’d never felt so euphoric in my life.
the manager called the ambulance and, before too long, they came and carted me away to the hospital.
by this time my euphoria had subsided, but not the bulge on my neck or my concern over what it was.
when they took me into the emergency room i was greeted by a doctor who gave me a cursory exam and said: “i don’t want you to worry about what i’m about to tell you. . .”
that certainly calmed me down. about like being told by an airline pilot: “ah, this is your captains speaking. now, ah, look, ah, i don’t want any of you to panic. but, ah, they forgot to fuel the, ah, aircraft and, ah, well, we’ve, ah, got to ditch!”
the doctor continues: “. . . but, i think you have a tumor!”
“i don’t see a need in admitting you. but, i suggest you see your doctor back in fallon as soon as you get home!”
now, still not all that stable on my feet, and almost wishing i had died on the floor of a casino coffee shop instead of dying over a long period of time from the tumor, joann walked me out to the car and drove me back to the model-t.
needless to say, it was quite a while before i drifted off to a restless sleep.
the next morning, i awoke without the lump and starved since i had only been successful at eating a small portion of my pork chops and eggs before hitting the floor.
so, we went straight to the coffee shop for breakfast.
two bites into the meal and my neck began to bulge again.
oh-oh. i was ready to lie down on the floor so my head didn’t hit it like a watermelon again.
then, it went down almost immediately. no bulge, no euphoria, no light-headedness.
i was fine the rest of the day and the next time i ate there was no accompanying bulge.
doctor tim was able to get me in on monday afternoon so i didn’t have too long to freak about dying on somebody else’s floor.
i explained the incident and the symptoms and told him what the winnemucca doctor told me.
“well, first of all,” he began. “you don’t have a tumor!”
which wasn’t much of a relief as i still had no clue what i was going to die from.
“what you had was a stone in your parotid gland!”
he continuted: “saliva, like urine or any other body fluid, contains minerals. what you had was a stone much like a gallstone or kidney stone. only this one was in a duct leading from your salivary gland to your mouth.”
he explained that, as we masticate, we create saliva in much greater volume that we’re aware of. and the stone was blocking the saliva from leaving my gland. but, as i continued to chew, i just kept creating more of the fluid with no place for it to go.
he told me that it may have been there for weeks and it hadn’t dislodged until that night.
eating breakfast on sunday morning was enough to purge the gland as i passed it into my mouth and swallowed it along with my omelet and saliva.
“yeah, but why did i pass out?” i asked.
“you didn’t pass out.” dr. tim said with a wry smile. “you fainted!”
“no!” i said defiantly. “you don’t understand. i’ve picked up pieces of fiends off of race tracks; i’ve seen dead bodies; i don’t faint!”
he went on to re-describe the symptoms i had as i sat in the booth trying to ignore the growing bulge in my neck, and subsequently collapsing onto the floor of the casino coffee shop.
all, according to dr. tim, classic symptoms of fainting.
“but, why would i have fainted?” i timidly asked, now not sure if i was as sturdy as i thought i’d been all these year.
“you thought you were suffering from an aneurysm and was sure you were going to die.” he said continuing to smile. “your imagination (i barely have one, you know!) took over and you thought you were going to die in a casino coffee shop!”
he told me that since it happened once it may happen again.
it has not!
so, it became another episode in my life that has become a tale to tell.
it became “the infamous goiter incident” only after i first met ron in 2003 and told him the story before heading up to winnemucca and the model-t for a (very) remote broadcast.
it is ron who gave it the title.
which, has recently become known as “the infamous goiter incident #1” because of something that has recently occurred.
but, that’s another tale to tell.