Monthly Archives: March 2006

Rejoining the Ranks of the Living

Glory, halleluiah! I can finally swallow without having to steel my nerve!! I can be upright for more than five minutes without having to hold on to something because I’m too dizzy to stand!! I can sleep at night!!

I haven’t been that sick since I was a kid, and I hope it’s a good long time before I have to be that sick again.

I’m still not 100%, but I can function where I am now. I’m tired and still a little achey, and I had trouble focusing for much of today, but I’m no longer wishing the earth would open up and swallow me whole.

Thank you all for checking up on me. Thank you for your kind words and good wishes. Thank you for indulging me as I griped and whined about how miserable I felt.

I believe I’m done now…

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At Least I Know I Can Still Smile…


Even though I’m sick – and good and damned cranky about it, too – I know for sure that I haven’t lost my sense of humor. Go here. This shit is hysterical. (action figure photo from yogabeans.com)

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A New Personal Record

Seriously. I’ve been sick – and I mean stay-in-my-pajamas-don’t-get-out-of-bed sick – for SEVEN DAYS. SEVEN! I think the last time I was this sick was about 20 years ago when I had mono. Even THEN, I think I was up and functioning, albeit slowly, sooner than this. I pride myself in being able to deal with just about anything that doesn’t involve puking. Thankfully, this doesn’t, but it’s seriously kicked my ass, and I’m pretty flipping tired of it, I’ve gotta tell you.

I still feel like crap. My headache is mostly gone, but I’m exhausted and useless and I feel as though I’ve got an evil, giant, slimy black and malignant slug attached to my left tonsil with a spiney sucker and unrolled halfway down my throat and up into my cheek and nose. I live with the cruel catch-22 of being hungry, but not wanting to swallow anything, and a call to the doctor’s office the other day revealed that there’s nothing that can be done for me – the advice was to “rest and drink plenty of fluids.” Great. More swallowing.

When is this going to END?!?

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Stacey

(Disclaimer: I’m still really sick – I’m writing this from my bed, in my pajamas, trying desperately not to swallow. If I don’t write, though, my head will explode: there’s only so long I can go without doing something with my brain. If I don’t make any sense here, you’ll understand why…)

I teach fitness classes at a local health club and one of my participants in the Sunday morning step class is a woman I’ll call Stacey. She’s a quietly friendly person, about my age, with a bright smile and a gentle manner and a determined, tenacious streak which I love – she was hell-bent on figuring out a particularly challenging step pattern last year and insisted that I teach it every week until she got it. We chitchat a little bit before each class starts and, though I don’t really know her very well, I know enough to like her.

About four or so months ago, I noticed that Stacey had started to change. It was subtle at first – she was a little more quiet than usual, she’d lost some of her bounce and enthusiasm. When I asked after her, she’d reply that she hadn’t been feeling well but that she was really okay and I shouldn’t worry. I accepted her explanation, but kept an eye on her just the same.

It didn’t take long before the subtle changes started getting overt; she seemed sad and despondent, and she’d started dropping weight at an alarming pace. A couple of other regulars in the class noticed, too, and asked her if she was all right – she told them she was, but I wasn’t buying it anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, I cornered her in the lobby after class. I basically said “look, Stacey, I know something’s up with you. You don’t have to tell me what it is, but I know there’s something. You’re not the same person you were six months ago, you’re melting away to nothing, you look tired and scared and I’m genuinely worried about you.” I pressed a scrap of paper with all my contact information on it and told her that I’m here and available if she needed me for anything.

About a week later, I got an email from her telling me that she’d found herself in an abusive marriage and was considering getting out. The email was what I imagine is typical of abused women – she blamed herself for the behavior, she told me that he really does love her, she said that she doesn’t want to leave because that will only make things worse. My responses were always the same – she had to assure her own safety – sooner rather than later – and that I was available to help in any way that I could, up to and including picking her up and bringing her to the shelter.

She hadn’t shown up to class in a couple of weeks and I was beginning to worry. I heard from her on Sunday, though, when she told me that her parents were coming to physically remove her from the situation. She was distraught and shaking, but resolved. I assured her that this was the best thing that could possibly happen to her, that she needed someone to come to take her from this situation which she clearly wasn’t strong enough to overcome on her own, and that I was relieved to finally know that she’d be safe.

I haven’t heard much from her since Sunday. She emailed to say that she was at her parents’ home in a nearby state and that she was physically safe but emotionally wrecked.

I say that’s better than the other way around.

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Quote for the Day

Heard in my house tonight:

“If you’re awake enough to pull the stepstool out from underneath your sister, you’re awake enough to brush your own teeth.”

Truer words were never spoken.

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Adventures in Health Care


So, I woke up yesterday morning – if you can call what I did “waking up” since I really didn’t SLEEP, but rather spent the night bouncing from one hallucination to another and alternately sweating and shaking like a Chihuahua in January, but you get the idea. The first thing I did was call the doctor’s office and begged – literally begged – to be seen right away. The receptionist (I hate her) coolly informed me that she was very sorry (yeah, right) but one o’clock was the soonest I could be seen. Unmoved by my desperate pleas, she logged me in for one and hung up.

I spent the morning on the couch, pretty much recreating the night before and wishing that the earth would stop rotating and thereby end my suffering. My head ached, my body ached, my ears and sinuses hurt and the very idea of swallowing brought with it contemplations of suicide. We’re talking blinding white-hot pain, People. I had to psyche myself up to swallow. It brought up memories of the anticipation of contractions; I was struck with the same “Oh, God, here it comes” feeling then as now. I even went so far as to call the office again around ten to plead for an earlier appointment only to have the receptionist (I hate her) shut me down. I had momentary thoughts of coughing on her when I arrived.

At 12:35, I got myself upright and headed for the car. My husband had thought he’d be able to take me in, but was called to a “lunch meeting” with no lunch and missed me by about 20 minutes. It didn’t matter, though; I probably wasn’t okay to drive, but I didn’t care. If driving meant my salvation, I would have driven to freaking Anchorage.

I checked in at five of one and hallucinated in the office for about fifteen minutes before I was called in – filed under my “you learn something new everyday” heading: fish tanks are fun to watch when you’ve got a 102 degree fever. The nurse finally called my name and I followed her to a room where she took my temperature, pulse and blood pressure, then did a “quick strep” test. This involves a seven inch Q-tip and a little plastic pregnancy test-like contraption. There is nothing fun about having a seven inch Q-tip shoved down a sore throat (as if “sore” were an adequate adjective for this kind of thing). Hell, it’s hard to even OPEN my mouth, never mind sit there, jaws apart, tongue out, saying “ah” while this nurse pokes at the one part of my body I’d gleefully have cut off at that moment. To make it even better, she had to do this THREE TIMES, because she “wasn’t sure” she got a good sample the first two tries. By now, I hated her, too.

The doctor, whom I’ve never met before, came in a few minutes later and started in with all the usual questions. Headache? Yes. Body aches? Yes. Fever? Chills? Yes, yes. Nausea, vomiting? Thank GOD, no, but my kidneys ache. And on and on. She does the usual ear-nose-throat exam, squeezing just a little too hard on my swollen neck, then takes a look at the strep test on the counter which, it seems, isn’t indicating positive. “Huh,” she says, “wait here, I’ll be back.” Sure, whatever.

A few minutes later, she comes back in and says that the quick test isn’t indicating a strong positive, which surprises her given that I’m presenting a classic case. Because of this, she wants to do a lab test. Yippee! Another seven inch Q-tip. Now I can go home happy. So I psyche myself up for another minor torture session and try to pry my jaws apart. Luckily, the doctor is better at this than the nurse and it’s over pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure she managed to dislodge one of the patches on my throat because she was pleased with the sample she got, even saying “Oh, THAT’S a good one.” So happy I could make your day, Lady.

Now comes the part that amused me, even though I was about as far from my sense of humor as I may have ever been. She tells me that she’s going to write me a prescription for the antibiotics right now. “Take this and fill it, but don’t take any today. The office will call you, hopefully tomorrow sometime (she actually said this – hopefully tomorrow sometime. Way to inspire my confidence), to let you know the results of your test. If it’s positive, you can go ahead and start taking the meds. If it’s negative, that means you’ve got something viral and the antibiotics won’t help anyway. Okay?” Of course, I nod here, but all the while I’m thinking, “gee, for a doctor, you’re pretty dumb. Do you think, even for a SECOND, that I’m not going to start the medication the moment I get it in my hot (literally, remember, I’ve got a 102 fever) little hands? How about we do it MY way and I start the medication at the pharmacy counter and I’ll stop when you call to tell me, maybe tomorrow sometime, that it won’t work anyway. How’s that for a plan? Because if I DO have strep – and you think I do despite the behavior of the pregnancy/strep test thingy – then I’ll have suffered for a full day, maybe longer, when I could have been getting better.” Honestly.

So, that’s what I did. I left the office, drove across the mall to the pharmacy, dropped off the prescription and went to the grocery store next door to buy juice and a snack while I waited for the druggist to count out my pills. I took the first dose in my car in the parking lot, chasing it painfully down with some grape juice and a cereal bar because I’d taken in no nourishment all day. When I recovered my sight (remember, blinding, white-hot pain?), I drove home, crashed back on the couch, and remained there until the girls woke me up when they got home.

I’m feeling marginally better today. I managed a little actual sleep last night. I can form coherent sentences, I believe my fever is down, and I am not quite as dizzy as I was yesterday. My throat still really hurts, but I do believe that it hurts a little less than it did last night. I’m going to continue the three-pills-a-day routine until, hopefully today sometime, the office calls to either confirm or deny the diagnosis of strep. Either way, though, I’m winning. If it IS strep, then I’m already almost 24 hours into treatment. If it turns out to be viral, then I must be over the crest of it because I really am feeling a little better. Still not well enough to live a normal life, but no longer wishing for death, either.

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Off to See the Doctor…


…with the suspicion that I’m growing these…

I continued to feel crappy all day yesterday. It got to the point where Advil wasn’t helping at all – the headache and sore throat were getting worse and spreading to affect my ears and sinuses. Before I went to bed last night, and with a sinking feeling of suspicion, I grabbed a flashlight and said “ahhh” in front of a mirror.

I’ve got patches.

Strep. Dammit!

I plan to just arrive at the doctor’s office when they open the doors and beg to be squeezed in right now – I can’t be bothered to deal with the answering service. It’s pretty obvious that I’m sick – I look like hell and I’m pretty sure they’ll take pity on me. Here’s hoping that I’ll be on antibiotics in a little less than three hours…

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