JudgeG’s week from hell

Did you have to bring that up?

Did you have to bring that up?

It was the week from hell and luckily I’m still here to bitch about it!

It all started Monday morning – I got woken up by a text message from a friend in Sweden at 6.30am. I’d gone to sleep late and the beeping sound of the phone really made me jump up. After looking at the message, I thought I’d get up, grab a quick swig of something from the fridge and go back to sleep for an hour.

But something felt really strange when I got back to bed. I started sneezing and felt quite hot and just not ‘right.’ I’m used to lots of sneezing as I’ve had really bad sinus problems and allergies since I was a kid but this felt a bit different. I took a D-D-Demazin which usually stops the sneezing and runny nose thing within a half an hour. Not this time baby! I kept sneezing and I still felt ‘not right’.

Eventually the alarm went off and I thought ‘I just can’t do this, I really need more sleep.’ So I texted work to let them know I wouldn’t be in til noon. I can do that once in a while thank god. Went back to sleep for a couple of hours but still felt strange when I got up.

Anyway, went to work, had lots to do, raced through some urgent stuff and then just felt really lethargic. I commented to a co-worker that I just couldn’t get motivated or be bothered doing anything. We chuckled. I think that was actually a warning sign that something was on the way.

On Tuesday morning, got up as normal but could feel something weird in my chest, lungs whatever. But certainly not enough to call it ‘being sick’. It just felt not right and, as someone who has had more than their fair share of URTIs and chest infections over the years, I was actually a bit suspicious. And there was one really weird thing – walking to the train station in the morning hurt – my bones hurt. That’s about the only way I can describe it.

Tuesday lunch time I felt a bit worse, a little congested and I kind of yucky – but that’s all. I did make a wise decision to leave work early and get some antibiotics from the doctor. I wanted to nip this in the bud. No days off from work and no dramas just before I’m about to fly away for a few weeks. Of course, I was still under the impression that I had control of my world! Silly me.

Went to the doctor at a medical centre in a nearby suburb who said he’d seen a gazillion people with the similar things recently and that a virus was leading to a bacterial infection and something else and so on, blah, blah, blah. Opportunistic he called it. Gave me the prescription, I had it made up and then waited 20 minutes for a bus. All fine, all normal. Feeling a bit more yucky, a bit more congested and thinking ‘I will go to bed very, very early tonight so this thing doesn’t get any worse.’ Yeah right!

By the time I got home I was shivering – yes it was a cold day but I was rugged up, sitting almost on top of my heater at this time. It didn’t stop. I was like ‘what the f*** is going on here? This aint like all the other times.’

I went right to bed after taking the first antibiotic, Panadol yada yada. Heater was on, t-shirt, warm PJs, lying under two quilts and I was freezing. Yet it took ages before I felt reasonably warm. I must have dozed off at some point because the next thing I remember is waking up and stumbling out of bed thinking ‘oh god, oh god, I can’t breathe properly.’ At this point I’m holding the wall for support, coughing, freezing again, my lungs feel like they’re full of liquid, my head feels like it is going to explode and I’m really disorientated.

First I tried the usual things. Inhaled my asthma steroid/reliever combo inhaler and tried to breathe deeply and slowly as I did. Not happening Jan. I just kept coughing, I couldn’t take any deep breaths. I began to panic.

‘I think I’m going to need an ambulance,’ suddenly came into my head. Followed by ‘it’s freezing cold out there, it’s the middle of the night, they’ll have to get up flights of stairs, Yoda will have to be woken up, it’ll be a huge drama, incredibly embarrassing,’ and so on. I think the embarrassment and drama were at the top of my ‘don’t call an ambulance’ reluctance. I did have a bad experience with really rude and awful ambulance men after a car accident and a collapsed lung in Surry Hills in ’89 – but that’s different to actually having to call an ambulance to come to my flat.

I know this is a stupid thing to even think – I mean, if I need an ambulance, I need an ambulance. Still, perhaps that’s my mother’s upbringing. About not causing a fuss, wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus etc. Old programming dies hard.

Which I thought I was about to do for real – die hard. It was so frightening. Not just the shallow breathing but all of the symptoms at once were overwhelming. And to hit so hard so quickly…it was really scary. I did think about ringing Yoda, my best and oldest (in many ways!) friend but, in the same dumb logic, I thought, ‘he’s got that new girl starting tomorrow that he’s training. His sleeping patterns are always really bad, this will just screw him up completely.’ It really does seem a crazy line of thought when I feel like I’m about to drop dead, but there you have it – we are all strange creatures 😉

Next thought was ‘If I don’t want to suffer the embarrassment of an ambulance,’ what can I do. Firstly I took the chain off my front door because – would you believe – it would make it easier for people to get in to remove my body if I did drop dead. See, the combination of being a huge drama queen and a practical thinker has really been my forte for decades.

Anyway, I did try and focus a little bit. Got the asthma spray again and took more puffs. Even with the coughing it caused, I did it several times. Then I got to the kitchen, took some more Panadol and thought ‘I’ll lie down very still and focus on slow breathing and maybe I’ll get away with it.’ So I did and eventually I did.

After the immediate crisis had subsided, I just spent the rest of the night in bed with my head propped up, coughing, sneezing, holding my head and trying to not do anything that would upset my breathing. Every time I coughed it was like someone had put a sledgehammer to my head.

I’d decided to go to the doctor first thing Wednesday but when ‘first thing’ arrived, I couldn’t do it – just getting out of bed at all was a problem. Anytime I did, I’d start shivering. Which was strange given how rugged up I was – including huge thick socks! I had to get out of bed a couple of times – to take more pills, to go to the loo – and it was just horrible each time.

By about lunchtime Wednesday I knew I had to do something about getting to a doctor because I needed a medical certificate to be off work, if nothing else. I rang them and there was an appointment just after their lunch break. How the hell I put my clothes on got outside the flat I have no idea. If you could have seen me it would have made an hilarious site – I was crouched over walking like a 99 year old man – taking a couple of steps at a time. Then stopping, taking a few breaths and continuing on. The doctor’s surgery is about a 4 minute walk but it took me a hell of a lot longer that day!

There’s a sign up at the doctor’s saying if you have flu symptoms, a fever, have been overseas etc. etc. – to tell them immediately. So I pointed to the sign up front. They asked if I had a fever and I said ‘I’m not sure, I’ve been hot, I’ve been cold but right now…” I just got told to take a seat. They had masks on the counter but they didn’t offer one to me.

When I got called in my doctor gave me the usual drive-thru treatment. I would have thought by the way I kind of hobbled in and my general look that he might have realised I was in a bad way. But no, he’s very ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am, next please!’ He did a cursory check of my chest and temperature – said I had bronchitis very disinterestedly – gave me a prescription for antibiotics and asked me if I wanted a certificate ‘for today.’ I said yes but I wanted it for tomorrow as well. I knew I wasn’t gonna making a miraculous 24 hour recovery 😉 I should have got it for the rest of the week because I had to repeat the visit on Friday….arghhh!

I coughed and sneezed and hobbled home and went straight back to bed. And that’s where I stayed for Wednesday, Thursday and most of Friday. During all of this a big pain in the arse was that the coughing and sneezing and runny nose meant I couldn’t sleep. I basically just lay in bed for several days in agony – any snatches of sleep I got were only for about 30 minutes and then the nose or the cough would wake me again.

Yoda was freaking out and a big part of it was the trip, Everything had been booked and paid and organised and we were to fly out the following week. What the hell was going to happen to the trip? How could I be on a plane at all, let alone for a couple of 11 hour stretches at a time? I couldn’t really say ‘don’t worry, it’ll all be fine,’ because I had no idea if it would. Wednesday and Thursday the antibiotics didn’t seem to be doing much at all. If it had begun as a viral thing then I guess that makes sense. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses.

The turning point in all of this was – I think it was Thursday night – about 9.30pm. After being freezing cold and shivering off and on for a couple of days, I suddenly broke into a major sweat. One minute I was cold as ice and the next I was sweating and had to get the quilts off me. I lay there sweating profusely for a few minutes and thought ‘this is weird, what does this mean?’ I could have gone in for more drama-queen thoughts when I suddenly realised something…a fictional character in series of books that I’ve read (about 10 times) – part of my Mary Jane Staples obsession (British author)…had a fever that almost killed him in a flu epidemic in the 1900s. And when he started sweating and soaked the bed, it had been a sign that the fever had broken and that he was on the mend.

Well, if it was good enough for him, then it was good enough for me. My temperature did begin to normalise and cold was cold and warm was warm again. All the other symptoms including breathing difficulties were still there – but I really felt like I’d turned the corner.

The first day I started to feel partially human again was yesterday, Saturday. The lung congestion continued but the other symptoms started to go. Yoda had given me a couple of sleeping pills so I’m sure that helped enormously in getting me back on track. A full night’s sleep was a godsend. The cough is still there but it is now about coughing up phlegm. Sorry, very graphic but, that’s life! I don’t mind coughing it up because it means it is getting out of my system and making my breathing easier.

Today I was much, much better. Able to walk and talk almost like a real, normal person 😉 Too much walking still zonks me a bit and there’s still that yucky phlegm but that’s not a big deal comparatively. Tomorrow it will be back to work and just trying to make sure I don’t overdo things. Hell, I’m supposed to be flying out later this week to the other side of the world!

It’s been really good to write all this down even though it’s made for a bloody long post. Good to get it out of my head because this last week really scared the shit out of me. It’s not like I never get sick – I do – and when I do, I go to a doctor, I’m not a martyr. It was the virulence and speed of this thing and the fact that it didn’t seem to respond to anything initially that freaked me out.

I made the doctor take a swab on Friday afternoon to see if it was swineflu. But of course, now I see on the internet that no-one cares anymore! The Government has given up trying to contain it now and accepted that everyone’s going to get it – but that most people will only have minor symptoms. They don’t want to know if you have it really – unless you die of course, then they put you in an Excel spreadsheet 😉 And anyway, it could have been this new version of the regular flu that’s now doing the rounds in Sydney which apparently will see 60% of people off work at some stage over winter.

What it was or is had pre-occupied me somewhat until earlier this evening when Yoda and I decided that wearing a mask to work tomorrow would be pointless and just freak everyone out. Whatever it was, it is finally leaving the JudgeG building and that’s all I’m concerned about now. 

But I am still bitter that I was forced to miss Wednesday’s regular pub night! (16 years is regular!). This was the first time in YEARS that I’d piked! Let’s face it, if I’m in Sydney and it’s a Wednesday night, you know I’m at the pub. This was definitely an exception and one I hope not to repeat 😉

My god, I haven’t had a beer in over a week……..I really must be sick!!! ;-p

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3 Comments

  1. OMG – you’ve done Dry July without even thinking of it!

  2. I could really identify with this post. I went through many of the same thought processes three weeks ago before finally ringing for an ambulance at 4am after a night of illness and turmoil.

    • Glad you’re still here to tell the story. And yeah, sometimes you do just need to call the ambulance. I’ll get that through my thick head next time.


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