Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday Night Fever

Last week, I was on a vacation to Mexico to visit the overwintering monarch butterflies. I'll be sure to tell you all about it, but you'll have to wait until I have recovered from my cold. 

I knew, even before I left, that I was destined to catch a cold on this trip, since I had miraculously escaped any type of respiratory infection all winter, and I tend to get sick disproportionately often when I'm traveling. Sure enough, on the flight back home on Friday night, I noticed a faint pain in my throat. I chalked it up to having choked on my spit earlier in the flight, but in retrospect, I probably choked because my throat was already irritated from being ill. 

Saturday morning, I woke up with a fever and a steadily increasing sore throat, and I knew it was for real. My healthy streak was at an end.

Colds are no uncommon occurrence for me—I usually get one every season, almost like clockwork, and my illness is usually relatively violent for what should be "just a little" cold, but this one might have been my worst cold yet.

From the moment I woke up on Saturday morning, I was in terrible pain. I don't know for a fact that I had a fever, since I don't have a thermometer, but I do know that I was racked by chills, and every joint and muscle from my lower abdomen to my calves ached mercilessly.

Normally I prefer to leave a fever alone, since the elevation in body temperature is supposed to help you fight the infection. But I was in so much pain, I seriously considered taking some anti-inflammatory drugs. I consulted Dr. Google about whether it really is harmful to do that, and naturally got mixed messages. But by the numbers, consensus seemed to be that people who did not treat their fevers recovered faster than those who did. I took this statistic into deep consideration and then chose to disregard it. I decided that a week or more of sniffing and coughing would be better than even a few more hours of this terrible torture chamber that my body had become. 

So I popped 2 ibuprofens and soon felt well enough to sit up and (with lots of breaks) unpack my luggage from Mexico.

Ever before when I've had a fever, the discomfort has lasted for a few hours at most until I could succumb to an exhausted sleep, and then it would be gone. But not this time. This time, every time the ibuprofen wore off, I was back to writhing in pain and shivering with the chill of a lifetime. For three straight days this went on, with me trying varying doses of aspirin and ibuprofen, until finally I woke up on Tuesday morning not feeling like death. I took an aspirin anyway, just in case, and went to work, popping a single aspirin every 3-4 hours, because I felt a little sickly in between doses.

Unfortunately, I have also developed a stuffy nose, and I forgot to bring my Benzedrex inhaler, which is my nasal remedy of choice for daytime. I usually take a few hits before a meal and then suffer through the rest of the day with my congestion.

So at lunchtime, I had to decide whether to choke down my food without being able to taste it or breathe (when I say "choke," I mean that literally) or to walk to the shopping center just off campus and hope to find a suitable replacement drug. There was a risk that the latter might be a futile undertaking, but I opted to do it anyway.

In a frustrating catch-22, the walk there conveniently cleared up my nose, but also made my throat burn like fire.

CVS was out of Benzedrex, so I was left to choose between 12-hour oxymetazoline sprays (quite effective, but too powerful and risky to overuse) or the CVS brand inhaler with levmetamfetamine as the active ingredient. The word didn't sound familiar to me, so I wasn't sure if this was a generic version of the Vicks inhaler, which I had already established to be ineffective, or if it was some new product I had never tried. It was half the price of the out-of-stock Benzedrex, which wasn't a good sign, but lacking any better options, I decided to try it. Only after I had checked out, walked back to work (almost crying from my aggravated sore throat, I'll add), and taken several more sniffs of it than the recommended 2, to absolute zero effect, did I notice the words on the package: "Compare to the active ingredients in Vicks VapoInhaler." Sigh.

However, in the interest of always looking on the bright side, at least I learned something—two things actually. I can now say for sure that I'd rather endure a longer illness than a longer fever, and I can now add Levmetamfetamine to my list of worthless stuffy nose remedies.

And so the struggle continues. My sore throat is slowly, in its very leisurely way, getting better. The stuffy nose is probably at its worst today. I am already starting to feel the incessant tickle in my throat and uncontrollable coughing spasms that will probably last for a week. Then maybe, just maybe, I'll be free. After an ordeal like this, I feel like I should be exempt from any more respiratory infections for at least a year!


Dee Duncan said...

I hope you feel better! being sick is terrible xoxo

Jeanett said...
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