November 11, 2010

This Years Season Ills and My History of Dramatic (Non)Immunity

I should have seen it coming. It’s that time of year, after all. The sore throat season. The sniffles, the runny nose, the cough, the sneezes. It’s pretty much a given that anytime between late September and early January, everyone in or somewhere near your social circle will be sick – with something. And you will catch it. Or maybe you will be the source. Whatever it is or whoever first had it, it’s coming your way. Get ready.

I felt my season ills coming on sometime around Sunday afternoon. Like always, I ignored it. It was just a tiny sore throat – it would go away, I was sure of it. And then on Monday it was fairly non-existent, not even annoying. Naturally, I thought I was right and that I had won. The dastardly cold had yet to defeat me since I’d arrived in Germany in mid June. I was surprised seeing as, for most of my adult life, I have had one monstrous cold per every season. At least. I was just about to congratulate my immune system on it’s victorious accomplishment when, to my surprise, a devilish cold slipped in (not so unnoticed) late Tuesday night. Some might say I brought it on myself. I suppose that might be true seeing as I was out riding my bike in the freakishly cold weather Tuesday evening. And then I added insult to injury by riding my bike home at 12 o’clock in the morning. And maybe it doesn’t help that I sleep with my window open every night. In any case, I am now sick. Very sick. And if you know me at all, you know how well I take to illness.

When I was a kid, I used to get the 24-hour flu about once a month. Or so it seemed. I would wake up in the middle of the night, sick out of my poor eleven-year-old mind, convinced that I was going to die. I would, of course, get to skip school and my mother would be at my beck and call all day but the trade off was a day stuck at home with a giant bowl at my side and a very, very weak stomach. I couldn’t even watch the commercials amongst my Nickleodeon line-up. One look at the green-slime cake frosting or the sweet products of the new Easy Bake oven and my breakfast (or lunch) was no more. Being the smart little whip that I was,  I would simply turn over to face the back of the couch whenever commercials came up. Sometimes it worked. Most of the time I just fell asleep.

I know this next one isn’t really about me being sick but it definitely showcases my dramatics. At 12, I fell down the stairs and fractured my skull. I don’t remember much about the incident but as I was told by dad, step-mom, and 2 out of 3 of my siblings, my hysterics brought ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and half the neighborhood out to watch the scene. Hysteria continued on the ambulance ride and well into my hospital admittance period. Then I “woke up” three days later. I remember starting down the stairs with my too-big-shoes and a teen magazine and I remember waking up in the hospital room where I played video games with my dad and ate crappy hospital food. I remember nothing between those moments.

And then came puberty and the onset of my menstrual cycle. I would be out of commission for up to three days once every month. I would have cramps that made me keel over and cry. On one specific occasion in the 8th grade, I remember sitting in my choir class clutching my abdomen and crying while all my classmates (especially the boys) looked at me like I was from an alien planet. My choir teacher mercifully allowed a friend to accompany me to the nurse’s office and I spent the next twenty minutes crying hysterically about how I needed to go home while the office attendant tried very hard to understand my alien language. My mom picked me up in between her errands, handed me a bottle of generic labeled Midol, reclined my seat and said, “Sweetie, we’ll be home in a bit.” I groaned and moaned through the entire experience and then I spent the next two days on the couch, cuddled up with my cat, and a heating pad turned on to the highest heat. Thank God for the invention of birth control and it’s multiple purposes. I’d barely turned 16 when my mom put me on the pill to regulate my period. I can’t even remember what it feels like when my uterus violently revolts against my body. Amazing.

At the age of 15, I came down with bronchitis that was teetering close to the edge of full scale pneumonia. I was picked up from school due to a horrendous coughing fit that hit me sometime in the morning. My mom carried me around with her through her errands and I just laid in the car with a pathetic look on my face. Once at home, I curled up in my bed and tried to sleep but then another coughing fit attacked me. I coughed and coughed and coughed and it never seemed to let up. Until I started coughing up blood and I walked into the kitchen with blood all over my hands and shirt and pouring out of my nose. Nothing will ever surpass the look on my mother’s face when I walked into the kitchen covered in my own blood. The bleeding didn’t cease so my mom drove me to the hospital with a kitchen towel pressed to my face, which was now colored crimson red. They kept me in Urgent Care for a while and plugged my nose with a plastic pinch and sent me home about an hour later with a antibiotics and a diagnosis of severe bronchitis and borderline pneumonia. I spent the next week trying to manage crushing nose bleeds that came on with little warning. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it was spring break so I didn’t miss much school. Worst spring break ever in my opinion.

Ever since then, I’ve been hit with two to three nasty colds every  year. The reoccurrence of these horrible afflictions may have something to do with the fact that I work with contagious, sick face little children every day or maybe it’s just my immune system playing cruel jokes on me. The fact is, I don’t take sickness lightly and my body refuses to cut me a break. The nurses at my university health center started rolling their eyes when I came in once every season. The prescriptions started writing themselves by that point. And my best friends will never forget our spring break trip to Palm Springs and the day when blood started coming out of my eyes. I kid you not. I do not take well to illness. I always truck through it, unscathed and usually resentful, but during infection and up until release, I am a mess.

Last night I tossed and turned in bed for hours because the sinus pressure inside my head was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep. For 13 hours that headache plagued me yesterday and when I woke up this morning with the ability to breathe and with the headache gone, I think I actually did a victory dance.

I don’t like being sick. My body can’t handle being sick. God only knows what I’m going to go through in the (distant, distant!) future when I’m pregnant or if I someday contract a terminal illness (knock on wood). Right now I fully intend on staying in bed all day (again) and watching yet another season of Desperate Housewives and sleeping through most of the afternoon. And to think, I was convinced being in Germany was a good luck charm for my ever-crashing immune system.

Wish me luck and full health and I promise in my next post, I’ll skip over all of this.


Anonymous said...

Water, juice, airborne (if they have it over there, or something similar) and sleep! And ibuprofen. I love you, you will survive!

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