January 15, 2005

sickness sucks

So I'm lying in bed, complying with my doctor's bed-rest orders. I'm finally starting to feel normal again; human, not some retching, mucus-filled slug. It all began the day after New Years. I thought my nausea-inducing headache was the aftermath of a day spent watching the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back, in close quarters, inadvertently inhaling secondhand pot-smoke.

A feeling of general malaise persisted for the next few days, with some body aches, fatigue, followed by a sinking feeling my second day back at work which prompted me to leave early - not to return for two days. I don't honestly remember much of those two days. A lot of sleeping, I suppose. I know I had a fever, and remember shaking violently in my bed, trying to warm myself.

I returned to work that Friday - too early, I think - to round out the week. It was around this time the tell-tale raw throat began to emerge. I went out briefly on Saturday to see a movie. It was a nice, drizzly day, and I mistakenly thought I was on the upswing. I was wrong. I spent Sunday in bed. I believe I was out of the office Monday and Tuesday. It's weird, I'm having to strain to remember. A lot of throat and ear pain, a lot of fatigue, and the coughing... the coughing!

I felt bad for being out sick from work so much within the last two weeks, so I thought if I felt even a little bit better, I'd try going into the office on Wednesday. On Tuesday, at my boss's urging, I even made an appointment to see a doctor. See, I hate going to the doctor. Perhaps it's from having a parent who was a nurse, but now when I go to the doctor I always feel like I'm not sick enough to be there... that if I'm not bleeding profusely from the eyes or something, I'm wasting the physician's time.

So, anyways, I made the appointment. Thursday was the first day they had available. Sure, I thought - I'll probably be better by then, but I need a referral for something else anyways, so I might as well go for it.

I felt a lot better on Wednesday morning. I still felt pretty bad, but the difference between the way I felt Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning was like night and day. As the day progressed, though, my cough got worse and worse. I was talking to a client, and I started coughing, trying to talk at the same time. The coughing turned into gagging, and I felt my face redden. He asked if I was alright, and I said "Fine (cough) - sure (gag), yes (yak), I'm fine, thanks" - as I gasped for breath.

That night was even worse. I had been looking forward to the spaghetti dinner my father had made. No sooner had I sat down to eat, another coughing fit started. It was very sudden, and I didn't have time to prepare for it, you know, breathe in deeply, prepare my lungs for the onslaught. So I was denied breath as I coughed. Can I really call it a cough? It was a yak. And it wouldn't stop. It wouldn't let me stop - cough after cough after cough, without allowing me the sweet respite of an inhalation. I could feel my gag reflex going haywire.

My face felt hot - as if it were building up pressure... have you ever seen Total Recall? Remember that scene where Arnold and that chick get tossed out into the Martian atmosphere? That's what it felt like. I felt like my eyes were bulging out and there was no air. It felt like forever. I made my way into the bathroom, and between quick breaths, was vomiting. My stomach didn't feel queasy at all - the violent coughing had induced the vomiting. When I finally stopped retching and gagging, I felt myself take in a deep breath of air - frightened, teary-eyed, and upset.

My eyes were both severely bloodshot, and they hurt like hell. While I had been coughing I felt pain in the musculature of my chest, from heaving and forcing the coughs out. I felt light-headed and on the verge of collapse. I was really shaken by the whole event, and was pretty upset that neither my brother nor my father came to my aid - though they later said they didn't hear my episode. Whatever.

So the violent fit left me with these red dots under my eyes, and my eye sockets, forehead and chest felt heavy and sore into the next day. Wednesday night I had a fitful night with barely any sleep. I kept waking to my own coughs, I'd toss around, cough up what I could, and try to get back to sleep. So come Thursday morning, I was a mess. I didn't want to go in to work, but I had a doctor's appointment near my work, so I thought what the heck.

Thursday morning couldn't go by fast enough. I was so fatigued - the episode the previous night had left me utterly exhausted, and I had really no business being at the office. I was so distressed by the fit of coughing that I went online to look up coughs. Because I'm an internet geek, and that's what we do - look up our sicknesses online, along with anything else we can think of.

So I'm looking up "cough" on Yahoo! and click on the "whooping cough" link, because with a name like "whooping cough", it's gotta be at least a little entertaining reading. So ten minutes later, I've convinced both myself and my "cube mate" that I've contracted the rarely-diagnosed whooping cough.

I go to the doctor and tell her, point blank, that I think I have the whooping cough. Heh. Anyways, I explain my symptoms, and she looks in my throat and ears, listens to my chest and sends me on my way with a prescription for a powerful cough suppressant (with codeine, thank you very much) and a round of antibiotics, with strict instructions to not return to work until at least next week, and that bed rest is mandatory. She never gave me a solid diagnosis, but she seemed to humor my whooping cough hypothesis, which I think means she thinks I might have it, too.

So I race home, take my meds, and fall into a delicious slumber which goes mostly uninterrupted, except only for waking long enough to take another gulp of the lovely cough suppressant. No dinner, no breakfast, no lunch - but I finally let myself wake up long enough to eat dinner tonight.

The good news is that I feel much better right now. The coughing fits have eased, and I don't think I've coughed for at least a couple hours now - which is fantastic. But there'll be no rush to judgment, I'm still going to stay in bed and rest for as long as I can possibly manage to without getting bedsores.

posted by julie at January 15, 2005 12:31 AM

things people have said

Sorry to hear about your condition...get well soon.


so said: RB at January 15, 2005 07:08 AM

Though it's hardly necessary to say: Feel better! You'll be out motoring again in no time!

so said: Erik at January 15, 2005 09:14 AM