Last Sunday, mid afternoon, I went from feeling maybe a little tired from cooking and cleaning all day, to feeling seriously ‘need-to-lay-down-now’ ill. It felt almost instantaneous. I could actually feel the precise moment the fever rolled in through my body. A sudden crushing weight of fatigue and body aches. Throughout the night I would wake up alternately sweating with fever and shaking violently with chills. Weirdly, by morning, the lymph nodes under my arms feel so swollen and tender that it hurt to move my arms. My throat hurt, but not in that streppy way. I can’t really describe it. Really, everything hurt.
I stayed home Monday. Went in to work on Tuesday only because it was my last day (more on that later). Bare knuckled it through a New Year’s Eve/Anniversary dinner with D hopped up on a triple dose of Advil, Tylenol, and DayQuil which probably did dreadful things to my liver (not recommended for those of you at home), but I was desperate and nothing I had taken so far seemed to be working. On Wednesday I was back to sleeping all day through ocean waves of fatigue, body aches, fevers and chills. The thought of getting up even briefly to use the bathroom made me consider death a viable alternative.
In other words: I’ve been kind of sickly.
Every time I’m feeling sick, I’ve always been able to think back to Christmas 2003, where I was the sickest I’ve ever been, and take solace in the fact that whatever I’m feeling right now could feel a whole lot worse.
What happened that year was a combination of extreme fatigue and shitty timing. I was taking 18 hours that fall semester, 6 of them with a delightfully sadistic studio instructor, and I was only making it by limiting my sleep to every other day (have I told this story on the blog before? I don’t remember. Bear with me. I’m kinda sickly at the moment). Knowing that I was setting my body up for certain derailment, I had actually gotten a flu shot for the first time that fall. Hahaha. Ha. Like that was going to save me. The flu shot is not a miracle worker, kids. Stupidly, I refused to get a flu shot again for five years. Because the flu shot was clearly what I was doing wrong that semester.
As finals week kicked off, I got hit with the flu. Due to clinical levels of sleep deprivation, my body was too tired to put up any sort of fight. I hadn’t realized anyone could be that sick. I lost days (over a week?) in a fever-induced haze of miserableness. I must have gotten Ms. B. off to my mom’s before the worst of it set in because I don’t remember her being there, but truth be told, I don’t remember.
What I do vaguely remember is D coming in and out. He was in that sadistic studio with me and we were partners for the project that needed to be finished that week. Thank God, he must have loved me, because he carried a work load carefully designed to kill two people across the finish line all by himself. And he did it from my house so he could keep me in Popsicles and chicken noodle soup (assuming I was actually conscious long enough to consume either).
D grew up in a family that thinks you go to the doctor when you’re sick (Amateurs). I also remember, after I refused to vacate the couch voluntarily, him picking me up, carrying me to the car, and taking me to the student health center. I remember thinking, “Aw, it’s kinda sweet that he’s so concerned he’s being pushy about this whole taking care of me thing,” and also, “Geez, D. So. Annoying.” Because after a humorously short examination, the doctor (premed major?) said, “Well, I’m guessing you already know this, but you have a particularly nasty case of the flu. You really should be home resting. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids.”
This. This is exactly why I hate going to the doctor. Think of all the time I spent feeling miserable sitting in a waiting room when I could have been feeling miserable at home on a soft horizontal surface. I think I could go to the doctor with my arm actually detached from my body and, after dropping a small fortune on an X-ray and blood work, the doctor would say, “Well, it looks as though your arm has become detached from your body. What you need to do is rest it. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids.” Someone give me a white coat and a stethoscope. I’m ready.
I’ve gotten off topic (see reference to illness, above, for further explanation). The point of that whole detour was to say, I usually can say of any subsequent illness that it is not as bad as that semester. But by Wednesday night I was feeling very shades of 2003. And when I woke up Thursday morning still feeling horrible, I thought (1) Seriously!? Who has time for this shit? and (2) perhaps I should go to the doctor just to make sure this isn’t something more serious.
I don’t go to the doctor. I don’t. The only time I’ve been on an antibiotic in my adult life was for a sinus infection that has gotten so bad it hurt to move my eyeballs. I hate going to the doctor. But I’ve been married to D long enough that I guess he’s starting to rub off on me, damnit, so I decided I would go.
I looked up the hours for the urgent care clinic near my house, spent several hours working up my energy levels for the trip, and drove to the clinic. Only to discover it was closed. Lesson learned. Don’t let the sick person Google clinic hours. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and determined that I was too worn out to go back again when the clinic was actually open.
So I decided to Google my symptoms instead. Which is usually a sure way to learn that you have polio or scurvy and only have a few days to live. And I probably should have learned my lesson with the whole clinic hours mishap. But I did it. And the top search result that came up, the description that sounded pretty spot on, was Mono.
“Crap,” I thought.
Not, “crap, I could feel this way for upwards of a month.” But, “Crap, D is never going to let me live this down.”
The winter before we started dating, D had mono. It must have been really traumatic for him because throughout that first year, every time I felt a bit tired or puny, he became really concerned and we had to go through this conversation:
D: “Maybe you have mono.”
Me: (snort) “Shut up. It’s not mono.”
I think he just didn’t realize how much I loved sleep. It happened so frequently that the line “Maybe you have mono,” became this relationship in-joke to be trotted out as a suggested diagnosis whenever one of us got the hiccups or a paper cut.
I can’t have mono. Not because it is a medical diagnosis given to me by Google. But because I really don’t have the time to be sick right now and if it’s mono, it’s just one cosmic joke too far.
Shut up. It’s not mono.