I thought I'd fill everyone in on the details of my latest medical adventure.
First, let's briefly recap just how crappy January was. Shortly after New Year's, I came down with something that was giving me sporadic, mild fevers at night. This lasted about a week, then it went away. Then it turned into a lung infection: my lungs filled up with goo, and I spent a week coughing it up. But then a course of antibiotics cleared that up. After that, I had a sinus infection, but it wasn't that bad, and (more importantly), it wasn't infectious, so I could go about my business.
I had a good ten days or so where I was pretty much normal. I'd cough maybe a half-dozen times per day. I'd use the neti pot in the morning and at night. But generally, I felt fine and life was normal.
Then around Thursday I started coughing a bit more. Oddly, it wasn't a productive cough -- not trying to clear any mucus out of my panicked lungs, just a shallow, "coughing for the sake of coughing" cough. But it wasn't too bad -- I took some cough medicine to take care of it. I had also developed some mild congestion issues, so I figured this was another sinusitis complication. The cough got a bit worse on Friday, but it was still nothing that medication couldn't handle.
Then on Saturday, the fevers set in. Around midday, my temperature hit 99.3° -- nothing too worrying, but it was enough to give me chills and a strong sense that something was Not Right. So I sat around my apartment, wondering what this latest complication was. I skipped out on Sara Farr's puppet-construction workshop.
Then that evening, things got much, much worse. I got lightheaded. I got nauseous, to the point where I was only eating little nibbles of candied ginger and taking small sips of water. The congestion got bad to the point where my nose would pack itself with fluid and then mucus would start leaking out my nostrils. I got tired to the point of, "I could blow my nose right now, but that would require reaching two feet away to the box of Kleenexes." My temperature hit 102°, then 103°.
And that was the point where I asked if somebody could drive me to the hospital.
Fortunately, Sara Gray volunteered to take care of that. The hospital is only about five minutes away, so we were there in no time. I signed some forms, and then I lay down on the carpet in the waiting room. Then, three hours passed. (Perhaps if something like this happens again, I should go to the Urgent Care Clinic instead?)
They were three difficult hours. The nausea hadn't gone away, so I spent a lot of time carefully concentrating on breathing in and breathing out and not puking. I puked anyway -- but I'd eaten so little that day (on account of the nausea) that there was nothing to puke up. After the vomiting, I would lay there and wait for the nausea to set in again. Also, the fever hadn't gone away, so I spent a lot of time shivering, in spite of having a heavy coat. I tried reading stuff on my phone, but my concentration was shot.
Finally, the receptionist called my name. I waved and moaned, "I'm over here!" The receptionist didn't hear me, and I was too lightheaded and fatigued to even get up and walk. (In retrospect, I figure this was a combination of flu symptoms and a lack of food and water.) "Could somebody tell her I'm over here?" I asked the other patrons. An old man walked up to the receptionist, explained the situation, and wheeled a wheelchair over to me.
I gathered up my stuff and slowly clambered into the wheelchair. The triage nurse wheeled me in. ("Whee!" I said softly.) I recapped my medical story to her, and she checked some basic stats. To my surprise, my fever had broken while I was lying on the floor in the waiting room. While she was trying to get me triaged, another patron kept asking her how long he'd have to wait -- her basic reply was, "Longer, if you keep interrupting me -- now let me take care of this guy who's been here for three hours."
Then I got wheeled into a patient room. A doctor arrived. "How are you doing?"
"Not so good, actually."
I recapped the medical story again for him. He used his stethoscope to check my breathing, and then pressed on my various sinuses. "This is probably just complications from sinusitis. But we'll run a flu test, just to be sure."
Maybe twenty minutes later, a nurse came in. He gave me a couple of nausea pills, and shortly afterwards, some warm blankets and a cup of water (which I drank greedily). Maybe twenty minutes after that, he came in to gather some goo from my nose for the flu test. Then I had half an hour to sit and wait for the flu test to run. I lay on the bed and tried to sleep.
Half an hour later, a second, less friendly nurse arrived. "Your flu test was positive. You have influenza type A." She handed off an informational printout and a prescription for Zofran (for nausea), Robitussin AC (for the cough), and Tamiflu (an antiviral that could shorten the infection time by maybe a day).
And with that, I was pretty much done. I asked for a surgical mask, they provided me one, and I put it on. I called up Sara, and she came by the hospital to pick me up (even though it was two in the morning). She dropped me by the 24-hour Walgreens, where they filled the prescriptions in ten minutes. Then she dropped me home. I took the meds and went to sleep.
I suspect that last night was the worst of it for this disease. Today I feel normal across the board. No nausea. No lightheadedness. My temperature has been a rock-steady 98.6°. Granted, this may be because of the meds I'm on. But even when the Zofran wore off this morning, the nausea didn't come back, and even when the Ibuprofen wore off this afternoon, my fever didn't return. Then again, it could be that the symptoms only hit me at night and mostly leave me alone during the day.
In any case, the doctor told me to rest, so I'm resting. This hasn't been a problem today -- one lingering symptom of this disease is that I want to sleep all the time. (After I post this I'm going back to bed.)
So I feel a lot better today. The problem is, I'm still going to be infectious for a long time -- perhaps a week or two. I'm absolutely horrified to think that I might have been infectious on Friday. I went to work. I went to an improv show. Hell, I went *dancing*. And even though I was washing my hands fairly frequently that day (if I have even the slightest cough, I get paranoid), viral diseases are infectious liek whoa.
So: if you were in contact with me on Friday and you start coughing in the next day or two, try & get a flu test.
That said, I don't think I've been infectious for the whole month of January. When I first came down with these fevers at the start of the month, I checked in with the on-site clinic at work. The first thing they did was to run a flu test, which came back negative. As far as I can tell, the bronchitis ran its course, and then I was pretty much normal, and then I caught the flu from somebody.
I suppose I'll call up the on-site clinic tomorrow, and see (1) how long I should keep resting, (2) how long I should stay away from the office, and (3) how long before I can safely touch people again. In the meantime, I'm going to spend some quality time lolling around in bed.
Mood: sick · Music: none