My Constitution Has Failed Me…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 | Life

…in which I talk about my loss of superhuman healing powers.

There was a time, years ago, where I would almost never get sick. During my time in college, I found that I would only get sick once per year, and even then, it was usually just a fever that burned up to 103° and then pass within 24 hours. I always figured it was my body’s way of burning up everything that could possibly infect me for the next year. Yeah, it was a stupid comic book theory, but it’s what I went with and it worked for me. In more recent years, however, that any invulnerability to illness that I once had, has passed on with age. All this means is that I am no longer guaranteed to be one of the survivors when “Captain Tripps” goes marching.

He's got a bit of a comb-over...
Even my cuts don’t heal as quickly as they used to.

This latest illness started Monday afternoon with a bit of swelling in my left tonsil. Yes, I still have tonsils. So, I occasionally get food stuck in the back of my throat and this felt about the same. However, when investigated, I found that my tonsil was obviously swollen – the left being considerably larger than the right. The comparison made it very easy to identify the source of the discomfort. I thought to myself  “well, maybe I just swallowed something badly.” Deciding it was little more than an abrasion, I ignored it. By evening, however, the swelling had spread to include the right tonsil and the uvula. It felt like my own throat was trying to choke me. I found that drinking ice cold alcoholic drinks helped the swelling a little bit, and dissuaded the oncoming associated pain. By the time we went to bed, I’d taken a number of ibuprofen and kept some ice water on the night stand to help deal with the discomfort. I didn’t realize how closed off my throat was until Heather woke me up in the middle of the night, insisting that I roll over to stop from snoring, not realizing that I was already completely on my side (I snore when I sleep on my back). Sadly, I eventually drove her from the bed and I woke up alone, in pain, and having trouble breathing.

I have a lot of work to do before the semester starts, so I went to work, anyway. I even rode my bike, hoping that some fresh air and exercise would make me feel well enough to tackle the day, at least. I left a request with Heather to call the doctor and make an appointment for me, knowing that I would likely be too busy to call for myself. I also knew that if it was left to me, I would play down the seriousness of my condition and talk myself out of calling, anyway. Genetically, men are predisposed to not go to the doctor unless there’s missing limbs. It’s something about primitive man not being able to show fear or self concern. I don’t know, it’s stupid.

So anyway, we had lunch as we always do on Tuesdays, and I had some super salty Ramen, and then we headed over to the 2:30 appointment Heather had scored for me. I’d been feeling a bit swimmy most of the morning, and pretty much passed out on the way to the doctor. Despite the fact that, on the way to the examination room, I passed the doctor chit-chatting with his staff, I still had an excruciatingly long wait time. I’d almost rather they leave me in the waiting room until he’s actually ready for me. The seats are more comfortable out there. Nevertheless, he finally comes in to see me and reads my complaints: swelling, sore throat, trouble breathing. He mocks some disappointment in the fact that I went ahead and submitted to the same illness that everyone is getting, joking that he thought I was better than everyone else (I thought so too, honestly). Then he goes into this weird paranoid conspiracy theory about how this virus has been around for more than a year and we can’t seem to kick it. Everyone is getting it, and even if you get it and get through it, you’re likely to get it again in a few months time. He even postulates (with potential seriousness) that it’s some kind of test disease deposited here by some other country that wishes to do us harm, and that “the next one” will be deadly, rather than just annoying. I’m genuinely uncertain as to how serious he was about all that.

He finally gets off of his platform and proceeds to lay out how this infection typically runs course. It starts with a soreness of the throat, then a general sinus discomfort (ears and nose, mostly), then finally, a persistent and obnoxious cough. He was optimistic, however, that I came in early enough that we may treat the infection before we get to the cough, which I’m desperately hoping for. The treatment consists of a shot of Depo Medrol 40mg, a prescription for Cleocin HCL 300mg, and some over the counter Claritin D. He did indicate, however, that about 50% of his patients come back after 10 days with persistent symptoms, even after they’ve completed the antibiotics. I’m hoping that I’m able to be in the 50% that clears it in 10 days. Honestly, it’s only been one, I’ve taken three of the antibiotics and one Claritin and I’m already feeling pretty good. I’m dehydrated as hell (as is one of the side effects of the Cleocin), and I’ve had no less than a half gallon of water already today, but the soreness is minimal and the swelling is down.

I took the day off today, even with the amount of work I have to get done over the next 8 days, because I felt like a good day of rest (and I did sleep 12 hours last night) would help me much more over the next week than trying to push myself and making myself worse. It’s a gamble, but I’m thinking it will pay off. Besides, I really don’t want to be blamed for anyone else getting sick… I’m already pretty confident that I know where I picked it up. So, if for the next few days, I refuse to touch you, know that it’s not because I don’t like it, it’s because I’m doing my part to kill off “Project Blue.”

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