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Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's only allergies, BUT

Dr. Phil says that when you follow a phrase with the conjunction “but,” it negates that phrase and essentially means that the words before it are bullshit. 

I know there is never a good time to be sick and that I should just shut up and not complain, BUT I’m here to complain. It is my God-given right to bitch and moan about it as much as I please, and if you want to just stop reading right now and spare yourself the agony of hearing me whine, I will certainly understand.

Last Monday was such a sparkling day in the park that Honey and I added a loop through the fitness trail to our established route under the oaks along the river. It was warm and we were sweaty when we returned home a little out of breath, happy and feeling refreshed. We had a drink of water and both flopped down on one of the navy sofas to catch our breath. I picked up my Kindle and resumed reading Fear of Flying. Honey promptly fell asleep with her head propped on a pillow. So far, so good.

It wasn't until that night that I started to cough. It really wasn't much of a cough, just a persistent tickle in my throat , a nuisance that did not in any way foreshadow how I would feel six days later. In fact, I wrote it off as an allergic reaction to the tree pollen with which the air is thick all over The Island. 

It is, after all, Spring. I don’t care that the calendar says the Equinox won't occur for four more days; it’s Spring in The Golden Isles. The bees are in a frenzy over the azaleas that are beginning to bloom, and the pansies in pots on the balcony are wilting in the warmth of the bright sun and warming air temperatures. They need to be pulled up and replaced with heat-hearty dusty miller and petunias and portulaca and lantana. 

Cliché alert:  Spring has sprung.

So, I gave little notice to the persistent irritation in my throat and upper chest, writing it off to the change of the season, which, as anyone who lives on the coast of Georgia knows, brings hacking coughs and runny noses to many of its inhabitants.

Undaunted, on Tuesday we were back out in the park, soaking up the sun and breathing in the pollen. That night, I took a Zyrtec to combat the cough and the feeling of something fuzzy sitting in my chest. 

I woke on Wednesday feeling more congested and scratchy and announced to anyone who would listen that I had “allergies.” I haven't been sick in two years, so why think I would be now? It was hay fever, for God’s sake, nothing more. 

I had my first appointment with a new therapist that afternoon, and I went, armed with a wad tissues, to try her out. She bought the “allergy” story with good grace, and in my defense, I thought I was telling the truth. The same goes for Music Night that night, where I warned everyone off kisses and hugs, just in case, saying I thought I had “allergic” bronchitis. I played the cabasa and sang, pausing occasionally, or maybe more than occasionally, to cough into the elbow of my shirt. Relishing my time of music and friendship, I gave it my all. I left before the others because The Ex-Husband was staying with Parrish so I could have the night out.

And here’s another BUT:  I realized when I got in the car to drive home that I was inordinately tired BUT gave it little thought, being worn out as I was with my “allergies.” The cough got worse during the night and I woke with severe pain in my throat and upper chest. So I took a Lortab. (I’m never without a small bottle of them for emergencies, like pain or, God forbid, a cough.) Still telling myself I wasn’t really sick, I finally got comfortable enough to go back to sleep.

On Thursday, still deluding myself that I was not sick, only “allergic” to something, I spent the day shuffling from my bed to the refrigerator for cold water and juice. I felt like I had been hit by a bus and was coughing so deeply that I thought I would spit out my toenails. I had Parrish walk Honey, keeping myself out of the pollen and telling myself that all I needed was more Zyrtec and another Lortab and some rest. I tried to write. I tried to watch a movie on TV. I tried to read. BUT, I kept falling asleep, so exhausted was I from coughing and taking drugs.

By that night, unable to sleep except in short intervals because of the chest pain and a cough that made a hack saw sound like a lullaby, I felt as though I were coming down with pneumonia. If you’ve ever had pneumonia, you know what it feels like, and I’ve had it three times. With the rising sun, though, I thought better of things and decided another day in bed would have me back to speed. After all, the  Lortab kept the cough at pay for a couple of hours.  That’s when I slept, day and night.

I should pause here for a little background that, in your eyes, may or may not excuse my ignorant behavior and cavalier attitude about something as serious as bronchitis or pneumonia. I was married to a physician for thirty-four and a half years, and as we all know, doctors’ families are never sick. We are like cobblers’ families who never need shoes. An aspirin would pretty much fix any minor health issue we might have, and believe me, all of our ailments were minor. We needed to have arterial blood spurting from a deep wound or be unconscious in order to garner any real attention from the House Doctor. The second and third times I had pneumonia, it was under the watchful care of my husband. Both times, I had to listen to my own chest and hear the rales before he would even reach for his stethoscope.  So you see, I come by this attitude honestly.

I sat in my usual spot in my writing nook and began, well, writing. I had some thoughts for my other blog and wanted to put them on paper, telling myself that if I weren’t better by Monday, I would insert myself into the health care industry and visit the walk-in clinic that is conveniently located in my neighborhood. BUT I couldn’t stop coughing and the pain got worse. So, I brushed my teeth and fluffed my hair and trundled myself over there.

My temperature was 101 and there were patches of pus in my throat. The doctor kept saying “Tsk, tsk, you sure have some congestion there, and your throat is infected.”

He pronounced that I am suffering from bacterial bronchitis and had the nurse give me a shot of Rocephen, a potent antibiotic that is supposed to act like a carpet bomb for all sorts of infections, and a shot of Decadron to help control the inflammation and swelling in my throat and breathing tubes. I fell asleep on the examining table while I waited the obligatory twenty minutes to make sure I wasn’t allergic to the antibiotic.  

Armed with prescriptions for a potent cough syrup and another antibiotic, I went by CVS on my way home, where I have remained for forty-eight hours, in and out of bed, sleeping in two-hour cat naps and coughing.

Feel sorry for me yet? I won’t blame you if you don’t. Clearly, I am unbalanced and think I can wish away an illness that could have easily landed me in hospital. 

The birds are chirping happily now, and I’m taking my not so chirpy ass back to bed, at least for a couple of hours.

Copyright 2014 cj Schlottman


Sue said...

I hate being sick, too.
Totally get it.


Judie said...

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