It started Monday night. At first it was just a tickle in my throat, nothing new. I fell asleep with a cough drop under my tongue like I’d done many a time before, believing this would be enough.
When I awoke the next morning, I still had a tickle in my throat, but it was just a tickle. And I still had work…
As my day went on, the tickle mutated, growing into pain, bad pain, and my cough drops weren’t helping. In fact, it seemed like my cough drops were triggering coughing fits. There were other symptoms: intermittant nausia and dizziness, feeling weaker than normal. None of these were good signs.
By the time we were finishing up our tear down, I had to keep myself from crying. I’d started coughing occasionally, and it hurt, really hurt, whenever I coughed. I knew, just knew, something was very wrong.
The next morning I went to Patient First. They tested me for strep and the flu, both negative. Still, the doctor thought I probably had the flu anyway; he perscribed a flu medication plus some liquid codeine. I filled the scripts, went home, changed clothes, and went back to work.
Wednesday was to be an easy day, a half day, a simple gig. But, as I worked, I could feel it. I couldn’t move, couldn’t function like I normally would. It took me much longer to perform simple tasks, and it took so much energy out of me to just get through this simplest of gigs.
That day I continued to drink fluids. Tea helped to soothe my throat. I went to sleep at 11pm having taken my first dose of the codiene, the drug giving me a nice dull haze to slip into.
And then I woke up at 2am. My throat was on fire, worse than it had been before. I chugged more ginger ale, rolled over, and made myself fall back to sleep.
And then I woke up at 5am. My throat felt even worse. I made myself a hot toddy, went downstairs, and watched random television hoping my throat would feel better. It didn’t.
I tried to stay strong. I kept hoping my pain would ease. But there came a point when I was ready to ball. I tried to speak to a roommate around 8am, and each word was a new level of pain.
I took two Tylenol, another dose of the codiene, curled up on the cough, my body in a tight ball, and cried myself to a restless sleep that lasted about an hour.
And then came the weezing. It felt like something was obstructing my airway, like mucus was half covering my throat. Every breath was a labor. I gave it sometime, thinking it would go away. With each breath, I grew more and more scared.
Finally, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I picked up my phone and typed out a note. I walked up to the kitchen, where one of my roommates was fixing something. I showed her my phone.
I’m having difficulty breathing; I think I need to go to the hospital.
She didn’t need my note to realize I was not good. You could hear every breath enter and exit my body. We rushed to get shoes on my, grab my wallet, and bundle up against the frigid cold.
By the time we had gotten to the hospital, I had hacking coughed enough that whatever was hampering my breathing had been dislodged, but I had given up on talking; it just hurt too much. I wrote out all my answers to the intake secretary.
We waited for about an hour before they took me to the back. As the nurse spoke, I just kept writing.
Before she even asked me any questions, I pointed to notes I’d already written:
Symptoms – painfully sore throat, chills, intermittant nausea and dizziness, weak.
It hurts to swallow, cough, or talk.
My pain is at an 8, a 9/10 when I cough. Yesterday it was a 7.
They put in an IV. They took blood for tests. They gave me pain meds and fluids for dehydration.
About an hour later, with the tests run, and nothing coming up again, they had a diagnosis: throat infection. They perscribed an antibiotic, more codiene in case I needed it, and gave me a doctor’s note.
I’m still to take the meds Patient First perscribed, holding onto the hospital’s codiene in case I run out.
It is so very hard for me to admit when I’m hurting, to admit when I’m in real pain. It’s incredibly difficult for me to take myself to the hospital. But the fear… That was the hardest part of all.
When you don’t know what is wrong with your body, when all the things you try that normally work no longer make you better, when you don’t understand what is wrong but you know something is wrong… The fear was the worst part.
But I’m okay now. The pain meds took me down to a 4 before I left the hospital. I’ve been hovering there or slightly below ever since, making sure to take the Tylenol and codiene regularly.
Because when I don’t, when the time comes up for me to take my next dosage, and I can feel the pain grow just a little. When it feels like a cheese grater is against my throat ready to slough off its fill, the fear comes back and I wonder if my breaths will be my last.
For being the daughter of a doctor and a medical secretary, I kind of suck at this whole health thing.
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