Confessions of a whiny patient

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I have two more writing-related posts half written, one of which I hoped to queue up for Tuesday, but I was cranky, exhausted, and still sick when I got home from work. So I’m just going to whine about feeling sick and how I cope and related things. Which means that this post is going to be, as one friend calls them, a “what I had for breakfast post.” I probably won’t talk about breakfast, but if you’re not interested in just mundane stuff, don’t click through:

So, I’ve written a rather large number of times about how I often can’t tell that I’m coming down with a cold or not the first several days because of almost constant hay fever due to my moderate-to-severe allergic reaction to every single pollen, spore, mold, et cetera. In Seattle’s mild climate some species is pollinating or sporing for at least 10 months out of every year. This particular illness snuck up on me another way. I didn’t have any congestion or sniffling or anything last Tuesday, instead I just felt really tired and just a little out of it, you know? And there were some oddities in the digestive tract.

Unfortunately, I’ve been on medication for certain chronic issues for about 24 years, and one of the most common side effects of that class of medications is occasional intestinal issues. So at least once I month I have a day or two where things are a bit out of sorts in that department. So I just thought it was one of those days Tuesday, and I chalked up the fatigue and more-easily-distracted-than-usualness to not sleeping as soundly (which often accompanies the other thing). It was a work-from-home day, so as soon as I finished work I took a short nap, and tried to work on some editing in the evening.

My husband, meanwhile, came home, told me he was afraid he’d caught another cold, and just went to bed.

Wednesday I still felt tired and a bit mentally scattered, but definitely not sick. So I went into the office. By midday I realized that had been a mistake, because instead of being Distracto-Boy that day, my brain was just sluggish. Getting to the end of a train of thought while I was trying to process information felt like pushing a heavy object up a ramp. It was just a constant struggle to get anything done. When I got home that evening, I told my husband I was pretty sure I was sick, and if I didn’t feel much better I was staying home the next day.

I attempted to get caught up on Runaways, but I didn’t finish the one episode I tried to watch because I kept rewinding it because I would zone out and suddenly realize I couldn’t remember anything about the last five or ten minutes I had been watching. I went to bed early.

Then woke up Thursday with my entire head feeling swollen. Every sinus membrane was screaming in pain, and my eyes were red and very itchy. My right eye wouldn’t focus at all. The preferred way to “call in sick” at my current workplace is to send an email to one’s supervisor, then create an all-day-meeting in the shared calendar informing people you are calling in and whether you will be available for any work questions during the day. I had to close my right eye to read the screen well enough to sign in and send the email, then I rather crankily tried to read some urgent messages from the software architect on my project with the current insane deadlines while I waited for antihistamines to kick in.

By the time of my daily status call-in (about two hours after I swallowed all the cold meds), I could actually see out of both eyes and breathe a bit easier, but several co-workers commented on how sniffly I sounded on the conference call.

I have one very good friend who scolds me a lot when I work from home when I’m sick. I know he has a point, but at this point I have about a day and a half of sick time available (because it’s been another of those winters and I’ve had several colds already), and besides, once the meds had kicked in, I was in a state where I felt wide away and would have just been staring at the walls or something if I hadn’t worked. Also, one of the insane deadlines required me to get a rather large book done and handed off to the other writer on the project before Sunday our time (he’s on the other side of the international dateline, and would be working on the same book all day on his Monday, then I needed to take over and take it to completion on my Monday so we could turn it over to the customer that day). So, I got work done. Fortunately, I was free of the I-can’t-think stuff most of that day. I still went to bed much earlier than usual.

Friday is ordinarily a work-from-home day, and alas, my brain turned to mush only a couple of hours into the day. But the stuff had to be finished, and I was getting last minute updates from multiple engineers until about 6pm Eastern Standard Time (so 3pm my time). I sent the document off to the writer in Australia at about 5:30, then after a quick consultation with my husband, I ran out to get carryout pizza. That was the third or fourth night in a row that we did takeout because neither of us felt like cooking.

By that point I realized that I had been sick since at least Tuesday (and my husband had confessed that he knew he had a cold when he woke up Monday morning, but decided not to say anything–and he’s got no sick time left), we both had fevers and felt like crap, so I called off a planned meeting for the weekend. And then, well, for all intents and purposes, I slept through the majority of the weekend. I went to bed earlier than usual Friday, hit the snooze alarm about a dozen times, then reluctantly got up just long enough to take my insulin a few hours late (along with my other morning meds), then crawled back under the covers and slept until 4pm. So I slept almost 18 hours.

I wasn’t feeling well by that point, but I felt better than I had in a while. There had been a call from the pharmacy in there about a refill being ready, and I knew one of my meds was about to run out, so I ran to the store and while there bought some stuff to cook that night. It was technically a step up from take-out, though I bought some pre-stuffed pork chops, bag salad, and a veggie mix in a microwave steamer bag, so it wasn’t real cooking. I took a nap after dinner, woke up for a bit, then crashed again.

Sunday wasn’t quite as bad. I hit the snooze a lot, took my morning meds an hour or so later than normal, and slept until just past noon. We decided to go out for brunch rather, half just to get out of the house for a bit. I took another nap or two before bed time.

Monday morning I no longer had a fever, and while I knew I wasn’t well, I felt a million percent better than I had on Friday. So I went into the office—to much scolding from friends online, not to mention my Product Marketing Manager. My boss and another co-worker called in sick that day. About midway through the day it was clear that I had used up all the reserves stockpiled by my body from sleeping all weekend. I left work about an hour and a half earlier than usual. I did not do my usual evening thing of walking semi-randomly around downtown until my watch said I’d walked a mile before going to the bus stop. As it is, the fastest way to the closest stop is a 6 block walk, the first two blocks of which are up an extremely steep hill (the third one is also uphill, but not nearly so steep). I actually had a slight wheeze in my lungs by the time I was waiting at the third crosswalk. I was cranky and exhausted by the time I got home. We had some leftovers from Sunday’s dinner; so that plus a can of stew was Monday’s dinner.

I tried to finish one of the two pending blog posts, but wound up typing much of the long whiny recounting above. So I plopped it into a separate blog post.

Tuesday is ordinarily a work-from-home day anyhow. I slept in until nearly my daily status call. I wasn’t sure if I would take a nap at lunch. But I’m feeling a bit too restless to sleep. So I polished this post up while eating. And maybe I’ll get to the other blog posts tonight.

One aspect I’ve left out of this is that every day my symptoms have been a bit different than the day before. My husband is experiencing a similar day-to-day change, but we aren’t having the symptoms in the same order. This caused both of us to guess that perhaps we each initially caught a different, separate virus, then each caught the other’s. He thinks the two viruses are ganging up together to fuse into a new, more powerful illness. I feel more like a battle between the two is raging in my body.

It’s also possible that we just both caught one really nasty bug that is going to take well more than a week for our immune systems to kill it.

But right now, I don’t feel any closer to well than I did last Wednesday…

3 thoughts on “Confessions of a whiny patient

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