This year, beginning in early August, I was running on full throttle from late summer straight through fall. There was the trip with the Folk Alley RV to Newport, Storycorps visit to Akron, PRPD in Cleveland, Whad’Ya Know? in Wooster, WKSU’s Fall Fund Drive and then the Kent State Folk Festival. Mix in a bunch of regional events, and I was just plain busy! My blog went quiet and there were no craft projects for September, October or November. Picture a candle burning at both ends with the wax in the middle slowly disappearing into the ether.
Then, the second Thursday of the Folk Festival, the candle went out and I got sick. Not just a little cold or case of the sniffles. Not even the swine flu (which would have been unpleasant enough). No, I got full-blown pneumonia - high fever for a week, coughing, bronchial spasms, trouble breathing.
I would say that everyone I know has heard this story, because the first words out of my mouth these days seem to be, “I’m a
little behind because I had pneumonia.” It’s boring, but (as medical events go) the illness affected my daily life like a stick in the spokes of a racing bike. Everything stopped. I couldn’t work the final two days of the festival - usually my busiest time. All I did was lie on the sofa and text my co-workers who (brilliantly) took over when they had questions that only I could answer.
The doctor listened to my symptoms on the phone, but they’ve been hammered with packed waiting rooms and - since it sounded like the flu - they suggested a wait and see approach. I didn’t want to be the whiny patient, so I waited. Every day, I would wake up and think, “Maybe today my fever will break,” but by the afternoon, it would be up around 102. My iPhone became my new best friend because I could use the stopwatch when taking my temperature and check my E-mail from the couch. The first Saturday, I tried to sit up at the laptop and my fever spiked so high that I was hallucinating.
On Tuesday, I called the doctor again and I must have sounded optimistic, because we decided that I would wait until the end of the week to decide if I needed to come into the office. My days now involved a ritual of alternating Day-Quil with Tylenol and Mucinex and drinking tons of water - food was mostly a no-go. I tried steam at night (which set off riotous spasms) and a mix of night-time cold relievers - nothing let me get more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time.
To be fair, I was afraid to sleep. The fever and coughing had me worried that if I fell asleep, it might end there (this is a hazard of living alone). And I wasn’t alone. My friends were worried, colleagues were concerned and my Mother was calling people in town to see if they would go and check on me (I hooked up Skype so Mom could see that I was still alive). With Thanksgiving coming, I skipped my annual trip to Indiana when my parents decided to load up the turkey and make the journey to my house.
After a week of not eating or sleeping and ingesting an interesting mix of over-the-counter medications, I called my doctor’s office and begged them to see me (note: crying helps in this situation). I don’t know if it made me feel vindicated when the diagnosis proved I actually was sicker than I’d ever been (in my life - I did a survey), but at least I finally got a giant pile of antibiotics that instantly brought my fever down. The worst part was going to the drugstore and being sent home for my prescription card. At least it wasn’t snowing.
The second round of antibiotics seemed to finish things off, but I lost two weeks of my life and I’m still coughing. I’ve only been to the gym a couple of times this month. My friends are filled with dire predictions about the future of my lungs. And it was really scary being alone when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Looking forward, my health issues should prove good motivation for organizing my medical information in a way that other people (ie my family) know what I know if I’m not in a position to tell them.
I’ll make that a New Year’s resolution - along with promising not to start all sentences with, “Did I tell you about my pneumonia?”